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THANK YOU LADIES: A look into the V-neck T-Shirt

Cousins: Crew Neck T-Shirts, Tank Tops, Long Sleeved T-Shirts

T-shirts are one of the most popular, most functional and most iconic clothing article to come into men’s wardrobes since the start of the 20th century

In the turn of the 20th Century, the iconic T-Shirt became a regular part of Navy uniforms during the Spanish American War.

These things were a functional whirlwind of cheap, sweat-catching cotton and easy cleaning. Over time, this new garment spread to members of the working class. Moms would throw it on their sons as they played in the dirt or did chores. Construction workers built America’s most iconic buildings wearing these things. It also helped the T-shirts case when the Great Depression came around. Cheap clothing would have been a godsend back then for many Americans. x20 short years after it’s appearance in American culture, the T-shirt was assured it’s longevity when the Merriam Webster Dictionary added it into our official verbage.

Okay okay, so classic male dominating slice of history, right?NO! IT GOES FURTHER BACK!

The functional undershirt is common going back to ancient history. Roman soldiers were known to wear undershirts, a predecessor to the T-shirt in function and style.

Despite this, the most direct ancestor to the T-shirt was the union suit, a pair of lightweight long johns with similar military uses. These were common leading right up to the early 20th century when The T-shirt became popular. Now, here’s the real historical plot twist: it turns out that the union-suit, itself, (patented in New York in 1868) was based off of similar undergarments worn by Victorian Women.

Since the 20’s the T-shirt has grown in popularity. Veterans started wearing their T-Shirts more casually in World War II. Movies both in the war and non war genres depicted men wearing the T-shirt popularized it as a stand alone garment, as opposed to just a functional undergarment. Other movies, like the Wizard of Oz, displayed early examples of T-shirts with decorative designs. Soon, printing and clothing companies began offering custom printing services and the T-shirt became a staple tool in advertising, politics and fashion.

The white T-shirt has become built in to many functional and fashionable corners of society, in the US and beyond. For men, it runs the gamut of functional and fashionable, as well as casual and formal uses. Interestingly, among women,  it seems to generally hold a more casual place in their fashion repertoire. Perhaps it is appropriate; women’s fashion has seen much more in the form of technological advancement in form and function, both, when compared to men’s clothing (The comparative accelerations of men’s and women’s clothing were especially different back when the T-shirt was invented). Regardless, the White T shirt remains one of the staple technological advancements in men’s closets and we have women to thank for that privilege.

History of the T-shirt.

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