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T-Shirt - The Most Loved Piece of Clothing

Apr 29, 2008
The story of the beginnings of the T-Shirt is as long as its arm. You might think that it is a pretty short one but actually it is quite long like its arm was once and it sometimes now is. If Charles Darwin had been around he would have been extremely interested in its evolution.

The T-Shirt began its existence as a humble piece of clothing hidden under another layer of clothing or sometimes under layers of clothing that men wore. It spent its life hidden away, soaked in his sweat, either because of his toils or because of the climate or just because of some metabolic quirk that he had. Some times he sweated for some primeval reason.

It was also the WWI that brought it out into the open when footage of news of the war showed the soldiers clad only in this piece of cloth, to overcome the hot and humid European type of weather. But as always its popularity was really established by Hollywood when it depicted it as a piece of clothing on its own rights. By the 1950s, the popularity of the t-shirt had skyrocketed when it was worn on the silver screen by Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951) and then by James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955). As more and more icons of the film industry began sporting it as a dress on its own rights the image of the t-shirt grew in stature.

There was no stopping it. Its subsequent progress was rapid and astonishing. People just had to wear it. Taking the nation by storm it became a national happening. Age was not a constraint. Neither was sex. Men, women, infants, teenagers and senior citizens sported it. It was considered to be cool - literally and figuratively and you were not "in" if you didn't wear one, and when it became a tool for political propaganda it reached its peak exposure. It is not surprising that the Smithsonian Institute boasts ownership of the oldest printed t-shirt on record, a shirt by the then Governor of New York, Thomas E. Dewey' during his 1948 Presidential campaign. It had the phrase "Dew-IT with Dewey" emblazoned on it.

From then on its growth was phenomenal. Everybody was wearing one. It was something cool - literally and figuratively. Its history even has a political edge to it and the Smithsonian Institute boasts ownership of the oldest printed T-Shirt on record, imprinted with the phrase "Dew-IT with Dewey" from New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey's 1948 presidential campaign.

This simple and inexpensive apparel became a means of displaying opinions, jokes, one-liners, graphic messages and the like. Anything and everything printable would have at one time or another been printed on it. Further developments in printing technology only helped in increasing its overall reputation. Now that the Internet is here, customizing a t-shirt to suit one idiosyncrasies is just a matter of mouse and keyboard use.

Jokes, one-liners, graphically symbolic messages, you name it and they all appeared on the simple, inexpensive piece of dress shaped like a "T". As printing technology developed it became more and more graphical. Mass production techniques just edged it on the more.

The advent of the Internet brought customization into the realms of the design of these t-shirts. Anyone can design and wear a unique t-shirt of his own, according to his fancy. There is a saying that says that clothes make a man, but none say as much this one does. The t-shirt is a wonderful product.
About the Author
Kathy Austin is a writer for an online gallery, Red Bubble. Red Bubble sells high-quality t-shirts, funny t-shirts , framed prints, mounted prints and more.
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