T-Shirt History

Since we love T-shirts so much, we thought we'd make the history of the t-shirt one of our first blog posts. Thanks for checking us out!

A T-shirt is a style of fabric shirt named after the T shape of its body and sleeves. Traditionally it has short sleeves and a round neckline, known as a crew neck, which lacks a collar.

The T-shirt evolved from undergarments used in the 19th century, then transitioned from undergarment to general-use casual clothing in the mid-20th century.


The T-shirt evolved from undergarments used in the 19th century. Initially, the one-piece union suit underwear was cut into separate top and bottom garments, with the top long enough to tuck under the waistband of the bottoms. They were adopted by minors during the late 19th century as a convenient covering for hot environments.

The earliest T-shirt dates back to sometime between the 1898 Spanish-American War and 1913, when the U.S. Navy first issued them as undergarments. These were a crew-necked, short-sleeved, white cotton undershirt to be worn under a uniform.  They soon became popular as a bottom layer of clothing for workers in various industries because it was easily fitted & easily cleaned, and for those reasons, it became the shirt of choice for young boys. Boys' shirts were made in various colors and patterns.

The T-shirt became fashionable in the 1950s after Marlon Brando wore one in A Streetcar Named Desire. They were finally becoming outerwear garments. The idea of them becoming general-purpose clothing took place when boys wore them while doing chores or playing outside. In the 1960s, printed T-shirts gained popularity for self-expression as well for advertisements, protests, and souvenirs.


The 1980s were a time where the T-shirt became a vehicle for self-expression. Numerous designers began producing T-shirts with large-print slogans, and during the beginning of the 21st century, slogans and designs with a slant for the ironic and/or humorous were seen on the streets. Political and social statements that are often seen on T-shirts these days have deeply permeated different levels of culture and society.