The Evolution of the T-Shirt: From Undergarment to Making a Statement

T-shirts are the most commonly worn garment in the world. It is simple and comfortable, which most people really like. It is the most no-fuss clothing item that you can wear. When you want to just stay at home, a T-shirt is the most comfortable clothing. When you want to get out of the house, a nice clean shirt will do the trick. When you want to honor someone, a T-shirt is a good way to do it. The T-shirt has come a long way from being just a simple undergarment.


With the importance of a T-shirt in today’s world, it is easy to imagine that people have been wearing T-shirts since time immemorial. In reality, T-shirts are not even 200 hundred years old. The first T-shirt—of sorts—dates back to the late 19th century. Apparently, some laborers would cut their uniform jumpsuits when the weather is hot. The standard uniform for laborers, especially miners and dockworkers, was a jumpsuit. But it became too hot so they would cut it into two pieces: a top and a pair of bottoms. The long-sleeved top would also be cut into short sleeves during summer. 

The first T-shirts manufactured were during the Spanish-American War in 1898, when soldiers used them as an undershirt. But it wasn’t until 1913 that the white crewneck T-shirt was issued as an official undergarment of the U.S. Navy. But when the servicemen are not on official duty, they are often seen in just their T-shirt and issued pants. Eventually, the entire population caught on with the simplicity and comfort brought on by T-shirts. Not only that, T-shirts are easy to clean and usually inexpensive. 

More than just an undergarment

Over the years, the T-shirt has become standalone clothing. In fact, sometimes, a simple white T-shirt is enough. Case in point: James Dean. The late actor definitely elevated the T-shirt from a simple undergarment to a classic look. Now, the T-shirt comes in every color possible aside from the plain white tee that Dean favored.

Aside from colors, the T-shirts have also evolved in style. The original shirt had a crewneck. Now, there are V-neck tees, scoop-neck shirts, wide-neck, and collared T-shirts. There is also the turtleneck for the cold weather. There are also those that come with buttons known as the Henley, a popular type of shirt for men. The sleeves of the T-shirt have also expanded from the basic half sleeves to short sleeves, long sleeves and even three-fourths. Women T-shirts include the baby tee, cropped tee, off-shoulder T-shirt, and boyfriend shirt. Other types of T-shirts that men usually favor are pocket shirts and baseball T-shirts. custom screen printing apparel

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