It’s hard to imagine life without the T-Shirt. Yet, “T-Shirt” didn’t become a word in the English dictionary until the 1920’s and the style didn’t enter mainstream fashion until the 1960’s.
During W.W.I, American troops wore wool uniforms during hot summer days in Europe and noticed European soldiers wearing lightweight cotton undershirts. This cool apparel caught on fast with the Americans and by W.W.II, both the Army and the Navy included them in their uniforms.
Up until the 1950’s, T-Shirts were still considered underwear, until John Wayne, Marlon Brando, and James Dean shocked Americans by wearing their “underwear” on T.V. In 1955, James Dean helped make the T-Shirt a standard item of clothing in Rebel Without a Cause.
Advances in Screenprinting gave people the opportunity to print on T-Shirts in the 1960’s. Tye dying also become popular in addition to other forms of the T-Shirt, such as tank tops and muscle shirts. In the late sixties and seventies, people began to realize that printing on T-Shirts could be a lucrative business. Rock and Roll bands and professional athletic teams started to make huge profits selling custom screen printed T-Shirts.
Since then, T-Shirts have only become more popular in the United States and are a staple in the American wardrobe. TV personalities have increased the popularity of custom T-Shirts and “message shirts” by wearing them on highly rated shows and celebrities have used them as a way to communicate with the public. Because they are both convenient and fun, it is doubtful that the T-Shirt will disappear from American culture anytime soon.