Today the T-shirt is a comfy wardrobe staple – an easy and versatile choice for a relaxing Saturday, a backyard barbecue, or even for work. It’s almost impossible to think of what today’s style would look like without the practicality of the T-shirt, and its origin is pretty simple: a matter of convenience.
In the early 1900s, men’s fashion involved button-down shirts, but buttons fell off from time to time. When buttons needed to be sewn back on, the man’s wife would often do the job, but what about single men? Enter the T-shirt!
The T-shirt had actually always been around, but it was primarily worn as an undershirt. In some places, it was considered indecent to wear nothing but an undergarment out in public. However, a bit of marketing genius changed this “undergarment” forever.
Dubbed “The Bachelor’s Undershirt” by Cooper Underwear Co in 1904, it stressed “No Safety Pins, No Buttons, No Needle, No Thread” which could be taken as “No Wife, No Problem!” The company was able to rebrand the garment as a comfortable and acceptable alternative to button-down shirts.
Soon after, the T-shirt gained popularity within the Navy and by the 1940s the T-shirt was seen in high school hallways everywhere. The term “T-shirt” was made famous by American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald in his 1920 novel “This Side of Paradise.”
Almost 100 years later, what started out as a product based on convenience has become couture.