Follow the T-shirt through different eras and watch how things became untucked.
Launching an Icon
US Navy issues crewneck T-shirts to be worn under uniforms. An American icon is born.
Pictured: Exercises in North Africa, 1945
T-shirt Hits the Dictionary
The word “T-shirt” is officially added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The definition of T-shirt is a collarless short-sleeved or sleeveless usually cotton undershirt; also: an outer shirt of similar design.
Making It Fashionable
Students steal T-shirts from their own football team when the University of Southern California prints “Property of USC” on the athletes’ workout clothes.
Hollywood Drops the Tee
Men everywhere follow Clark Gable’s lead in It Happened One Night. After revealing his bare chest, T-shirt sales plummet 75%.
Only 24 Cents
Sears introduces a T-shirt for less than a quarter. Known as the “gob” or sailor shirt, it is proclaimed to be either an outer garment or an undershirt.
Landing the Cover of a Magazine
The Air Corps Gunnery School logo is featured on one of the earliest printed T-shirts for the July 13th cover of LIFE magazine.
The First Political T-Shirt
New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey’s campaign presses “Dew-it-with-Dewey” for the 1948 presidential election.
Army follows the Navy by introducing the “Quarter Sleeve” shirt, keeping the boys in the Pacific theater cool in the tropical heat.
Following the popularity of Mickey Mouse, a Miami-based T-shirt company, Tropix Togs, purchases the exclusive rights to print the figure on a shirt.
Hollywood Boosts the Tee
The T-shirt gains popularity as an outer garment after heartthrob Marlon Brando wears one in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Invention of Plastisol Ink
The invention of a durable, stretchy, and comfortable new ink, Plastisol, opens the door for more designs and screen-printing on T-shirts.
Simplifying the Screen
The invention of the multi-color rotary screen-printing machine makes graphics on apparel less difficult and costly. The US screen-printing movement doubles.
Marilyn Makes Screen Printing Famous
Andy Warhol’s famous print of Marilyn Monroe popularizes screen-printing in bright colors.
Shirts Get Tie-Dyed
1969’s Woodstock positions tie-dye T-shirts as the voice for one’s individuality and the emblem for the era.
Alternative album cover for one of the best rock albums of all time, The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, the “lick” graphic quickly becomes one of rock and roll’s most recognizable symbols.
“I ♥ NY” Revitalizes City
In an almost eureka moment, designer Milton Glaser sketches “I ♥ NY” on a napkin and the logo appears on T-shirts soon after.
Iron-ons allow graphic images to make custom T-shirts on the spot. Sports teams, corporations and bands realize the power of custom T-shirts. The sports jersey has never looked better.
Pictured: The Cardinal Bar in Madison, Wisconsin
International Drug Abuse Resistance Education program spreads across the United States, providing sleep shirts for an entire generation of schoolkids.
T-shirts as Protest
To overrule censoring of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood song “Relax,” label owner Paul Morley prints “FRANKIE SAY RELAX” on T-shirts.
T-shirts for Charity
Raising money to aid famine relief in Ethiopia, “Feed the World” T-shirts are sold in conjunction with Band Aid’s 1984 single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
Inspired by grunge rockers, men wear old, unbuttoned flannel shirts over faded, un-washed T-shirts. This quickly becomes the fashion trend of the ‘90s.
In business since 1971, Hard Rock Café launches their signature T-shirt line. A collection of t-shirts from Cafes around the world becomes a must-have for the well traveled.
Heat Sensitive Tees
The Hypercolor T-shirt, created in the ‘80s, reaches its all-time peak selling more than $50 million worth of shirts in a four-month period.
Designing T-shirts Online
Two college friends start CustomInk in their apartment on a garish green sofa. The site quickly becomes the preferred site for designing custom T-shirts online.
The Deep V
Fashion forward and knowing no gender, the deep V takes America by storm. From the Jersey Shore to Malibu, men everywhere are showing a bit more skin.
A Broken Record
Sanath Bandara breaks the Guinness World Record for the “Most T-shirts Worn at Once” wearing 257.
A Second Broken Record
Gildan takes the title for the world’s largest Tee. The 281-foot by 181-foot T-shirt is displayed in Nashville on June 11th.
100th Birthday Celebration of the T-shirt!
Who knows what the next 100 years will bring? Follow us on Facebook & Twitter to watch the celebration
Jennifer Baumgartner, PsyD.
Author: You Are What You Wear
"Customized apparel is a way of expressing ourselves in a world where so much is mass-marketed. We want to be unique."
"At the same time, wearing a shirt custom made for your group is an identifier that you are part of the same clan. Throughout history, humans have dressed alike to indicate a bond. Much like tribal costumes or coats of arms, custom t-shirts give people a sense of belonging."
"We’re more likely to bond with others when we share an emotional event with them. T-shirts from groups or occasions become a concrete representation of that emotion. We infuse a spirit of a memory or time in our lives to an inanimate object."