Friday, February 1, 2013

T-shirts, American Graffiti and Long Underwear

As many of you know, I divide my time between making beads and copywriting or blogging for a multitude of clients. Many of my articles center around auto reviews, insurance, finance and marketing. Every now and then, I will pick up an article to write that has nothing to do with those things; that is when I get to learn something new.

Did you realize that the t-shirt is a result of one man getting tired of fiddling with his longjohns and cutting the top off? Apparently, the t-shirt started in the 19th century when some unnamed Joe got tired of the fit and took the scissors to a union suit. The resulting tops were cut so that they would fit inside the pants and were worn by stevedores and miners for covering. They became the slip on shirt that is familiar today once the Navy got a hold of them and  handed them out during the Spanish American War.

The reason it was called a t-shirt is because when it was laid down, it resembled the letter T. I never gave that little tidbit of trivia a thought!

Another really fun fact about the t-shirt is that it is created on a circular loom and there are no side seams. I never gave that a thought either. I had to go and pull a few of them out to see for sure.

Of course, we all know the t-shirt was the uniform of choice of the guys in the 50s and 60s, whether they were farm workers or not. I still see Milner with his cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of his white t-shirt in American Graffiti. He was kinda bad boy sexy.

T-shirts were not just for tough guys and cowboys; they were used by executives and anyone who needed a modest undercover garment when they were wearing a light dress shirt. This was a part of the bank executive’s uniform, and many guys still wear an undershirt (as they became known when they were white and had no design) when they wear a light colored dress shirt.

By the time the 60s rolled around, t-shirts were synonymous with tie-dye. They were cheap and the white ones held the dye, and everyone could make one. No matter what youth group you were a part of during the 60s, I will bet you tie-dyed something. I did screen printing in high school art on a t-shirt.

Of course, we know that the t-shirts today are used for every purpose under the sun. They are no longer just an undershirt, they have become a symbol of anything the wearer feels is important to express. Bands discovered they made great walking billboards that the fans would eat up and be willing to pay a lot of money for the privilege of wearing their favorite band’s name on their chest. A $3 t-shirt can go for over $40 when it is sold at a concert venue. Just another way for the music to live on.

Now, t-shirts are a staple of society in many different countries. They are still comfortable; and thanks to Michael Jordan, tagless.

I used a t-shirt as the backdrop for my 32 Ford hotrod photo.  This shirt is available on Zazzle and the 32 Ford is available on a lot of other products.