Monthly Archives - September 2016

About the shirt and how it turned out as it is today

Everybody has at least one shirt in his wardrobe. Some have more. They are commonly worn for every day purposes and in particular when you want to dress up. But not many people know that the shirt is one of our oldest garments.
Early shirts
Since before the Middle Ages the shirt has existed as a piece of clothing, but then only as underwear for men or as a night gown. In the early days the shirt had neither collar nor cuffs, but a hem that could be tightened and buttoned. And you always put it on by pulling it over your head. In the Middle Ages one could choose between fixed or detachable collar. The garment was often made out of linen and some times silk. In the 18th century the shirt was no longer worn only as underwear, the collar grew into enormous proportions and was decorated with embroidery and lace. Later the the collar grew back to smaller sizes again.
The golden days of tailoring
During this period of time no shirts were mass produced in factories. The well suited man bought his shirt from the tailor, just like many do today again, whilst the common man wore shirts made by his wife. For long the shirt was a garment of simple design, but in the middle of the 19th century the shirt was tailored more to the shape of the body, the fixed collar disapeared and the shirt started to show up in more colourful designs espescially as sports shirts and labour shirts. The white shirt was, until the end of the 19th century, considered to be an important attribute of prosperity.
The modern shirt
At the end of the World War 1 the shirt went through a major transformation. It was only at that time the modern shirt with buttons all along the front became popular, even if the first buttoned shirt was registered by Brown, Davies & Co as early as 1871. In the 1930’s the shirt with the fixed collar revived and it has been with us ever since. Twenty years later the nylon shirt was introduced and during the same period of time the more daring short sleeve shirt became high fashion. In the 1960’s the chest pocket was introduced as a consequence of the vest under the suit jacket becoming more and more uncommon.
Nowadays the shirt is a piece of clothing for him as well as for her even if most of the shirts are manufactured for males. The styling and design variations of modern shirts are endless. The collar comes in many different cuts and sizes and is very sensitive to fashion fads. The fabric used come in many qualities and constructions. That is the way it has always been. You can find shirts in various qualities in almost any store today including well assorted food stores. But a fine shirt – one that you wear with pride – you get custom made from your tailor.
The tailored shirt
A tailor-made shirt is a valuable garment that you treat with dignity and care and you are quick to put it on as soon as you get it in your hands. And then you long for wearing it again and again. Accompanied by a suit and a tie of superb taste or casually unbuttoned together with your favourite jeans the tailor-made shirt make your outfit complete. Your are quite simply very comfortably well dressed.

The History of the T-Shirts

The History of the T-Shirts
While t-shirts have a distinctly modern feel, their origins — as an undershirt — go back over a century.


Colorful T-shirts

T-shirts get their name from the T-shape formed by their boxy body and attached sleeves. And such T-shaped garments go back centuries; originally made from wool or silk, these sets of underwear often covered the whole body, were designed to absorb perspiration, and served as a barrier between a man’s skin and the more expensive garments he wanted to protect from bodily grime.

The original “undershirts” were united with bottoms to create a set of one-piece underwear — hence, the “union” suit. When manufacturers began creating separated, two-piece sets, the modern undershirt was born.

During the Industrial Revolution, advancements in weaving and the manufacturing of cotton fabric birthed undergarments that were more breathable and fitted than their often baggy and rough forerunners (though they were far from as soft and cool as tees are today). “T-shirts” during the 19th century commonly took the form of the tops to two-piece union suits men wore under their clothes, which miners and dockworkers took to wearing alone with trousers while they labored.

Around the turn of the 20th century, the US Navy began issuing undershirts to its sailors, and other branches of the military would follow suit in the decades to come. These undershirts were designed to be worn under one’s uniform, but soldiers, sailors, and Marines, especially those fighting in sweltering topical climates, often removed their uniform top in order to work just in their tees and trousers.

Garments specially designed to be worn as undershirts were also available to the public. Comfortable, inexpensive, and easy to clean, they were adopted by farmers, ranchers, and laborers of all kinds, as well as athletes and sporting enthusiasts. In the 1940s tees-as-outerwear also started to become popular play clothes for young boys, who didn’t have to follow as strict a dress code as older men, and who were notorious for getting dirty.

WWII lent the undershirt greater acceptance as outerwear, as well as some heroic cachet. Soldiers continued to wear them back at home around the house, and civilians adopted the practice as well. As a 1940s Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog read, “You needn’t be a soldier to have your own personal t-shirt.”

After WWII, veterans continued to wear their undershirts with trousers while working around the house. Then in the 1950s, films like The Wild Ones, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Rebel Without a Cause, popularized the undershirt as stand-alone outerwear. Marlon Brando and James Dean lent the tee an air of edgy rebelliousness, turning it into an emblem of masculine cool. And as so commonly happens, the middle-class soon co-opted as their own what had formerly been working class wear.

Worn by brooding movie stars like Brando and Dean, as well as beatnik poets like Jack Kerouac, T-shirts became a symbol of one’s allegiance with the working man, and disdain for authority and mainstream culture.

Advancements in screen-printing in the 1960s birthed a new wave of graphic tees that sported everything from band names to political slogans. T-shirts became one of the great democratizers of American clothing; while the cut, tailoring, and fabric of one’s garments had formerly signaled one’s identity and class, standardized, inexpensive tees became the new vehicles for personal expression.

Graphic tees go all the way back to the 30s and 40s, as is seen in the 1942 Life photograph on the left. But they really took off in the 60s, along with advances in screen-printing.

And so it was that a piece of clothing you wouldn’t have seen on a single person walking down the street 75 years ago, became the de facto national uniform of the United States.