The Journey of the T-shirt

Posted by Sally McLaren on

With our love and passion for all things t-shirt, we wanted to delve a little into the history of this simple yet essential wardrobe staple.

Who knew that dating back as far as the Middle Ages, T-shaped shirts were made of woven cotton or linen and were designed to provide a hygienic under layer between the body and the garments worn over the top. 



Due to advances in knitting technology, it was in 1913 that the US Navy adopted a knitted white, cotton t-shirt as its official underwear, and not long after, the appeal for also wearing them as outerwear garments grew.





In the early 1950's, the t-shirt rose to mainstream popularity for the first time when worn by actors Marlon Brando, James Dean and Steve McQueen.











Screen Legend Brigitte Bardot established a style uniform by wearing a plain white t-shirt in ways we would emulate today, simply tucked into blue jeans or a printed skirt.   


 By the 1960s, the t-shirts inherent sex appeal was picked up by more actresses and by the 70’s it was a truly unisex garment.



Jane Birkin was a true fan and icon of the jeans and t-shirt combination in the 1970's, both on and off screen.  Taking two timeless wardrobe staple items and creating a look of effortless off-duty style.










In 1977 film The Deep, Jacqueline Bisset increased the garments sex appeal when she wore a thin white t-shirt for diving beneath the waves and positioned herself as an icon of the 70's.





Around the same time designers including Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Channel and Calvin Klein created their interpretations and gave them centre stage on the catwalk.




It didn't take long for music labels and bands to recognise the billboard potential of a slogan printed onto a t-shirt, the statement they could make and the audience they could reach.








More recently, in 2016, during her debut as the first female artistic director for Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri used a white t-shirt as her canvas to make the statement "we should all be feminists".  A simple way to execute and communicate such a powerful message at a poignant time for the house of Dior.


So, in a nutshell and just skimming the surface of endless images, ambassadors and t-shirt wearing style icons, there it is.  Following the journey from its humble beginnings, the t-shirt has come a very long way and it is hard to imagine any wardrobe today without them.

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