If you search anywhere about the history of T-shirts, the most common fact is that it was first manufactured between the Mexican-American War in 1898, and 1913 when the U.S. Navy began issuing them as standard undershirts.
That is so true but the fact is that T-shirts are much older than that.
It basically started in during the middle ages when men started wearing it as an undergarment that will protect the skin from the garment that they used to wear. Now believe it or not, the now so cool t-shirts, back then were large, rectangular and with a long tail tucked between the legs; the only thing that is still common is that it maintained its T shape which gives it its name.
The T-shirt boomed in the early 20th century and it went from an undergarment T to one of the greatest hits in fashion nowadays.
So if we want to have a look at the modern history of the T-shirt, this is how its gonna look like.
Late 19th century: British sailors and The British Royal Navy sailors started wearing white flannel T-shirts under their uniforms and later it was adopted by working class society especially on weekends
1880: the US Navy started wearing the flannel shirt but with a square neck with their uniform
1904: the cooper underwear company introduced the slim T-shirt but it was mainly used for undergarments
1913: The white cotton T-shirt became the official underwear for the US Navy
1920: the word T-shirt was first used by F. Scott Fitzgerald In his famous novel This Side of Paradise and appeared in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary for the first time
1938: Sears launched their own version of the T-shirt and was called the gob (slang for sailor) shirt “it’s an undershirt, it’s an outershirt”
1939: The first promotional t-shirt was printed for the movie The Wizard of Oz and it was green.
1948: political statement T-shirts entered the show with the New Yorker Thomas E. Dewey running for governor “Dew it with Dewey”
1951: Marlon Brando in “streetcar named desire” introduced the T-shirt as a clothing item and not an underwear shirt. Followed later by many stars such as James Dean (rebel without a cause) and Elvis Presley
1960’s: Tropix Togs introduced the printed T-shirt by printing Disney Characters
During this era the printed `T-shirt became very popular among singers and rock bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd, and later by activists and rebellions delivering a powerful direct statement
1977: The controversial “God Save The Queen” T-shirt and song of the same name came as a shocking movement by the Sex Pistols
1977: the famous “I love NY” T-Shirt created by Milton Glaser became so popular that it brought tourism to New York
During the 1980’s and 1990’s T-shirts continued to be popular by a lot of celebrities from the pop culture
2000: The “Keep Calm and Carry On” became a trend on T-shirts with massive varieties
2010: The Creation of the first bullet proof T-shirt by mixing cotton with boron
T-shirts in our recent days have become more associated with Internet and Technology. Customs made T-shirts are even more popular especially among organizations, charities, athletic teams/events and musical bands.
In our recent days, T-shirt has become a fashion trending hit and not only limited to underwear.