“ALL Hail the High and Mighty Tee Shirt”

All Hail the High And Might Tee Shirt–100 years old and counting. According to a recent article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch by Amy Hubbard of the LA Times the following is true
* In 1913, the US Navy brought the lowly tee shirt to public consciousness by supplying a “light undershirt” to all sailors to wear under their uniforms.  
* In 1938, then fashion leader Sears sold what they called a “gob” shirt (“gob” is a slang for “sailor”) for the measly price of 24 cents which of course was when 24 cents really bought you something.
* The first use of the word, “t-shirt” was by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1920 when this hero in the book, “This Side of Paradise” set out for college and included in his wardrobe was a T-Shirt.  I imagine they fir right into the flapper image of the Roaring ’20’s”.  Be unconventional, young man!
* Also in the 1920’s, Rene Lacoste popularized the lightweight cotton knit shirt with ribbed sleeves we have come to know as the polo shirt. (Yes, there really was a Mr. Lacoste–a tennis star of the 1920’s). the tee shirt fit well into the booming demand for casual wear with Henley cut collars a staple in a man’s wardrobe.
* It looks like the first printed tee was as early as 1942 when Life magazine published a picture of  student at the Air Force Gunnery School. Can’t tell you what was on but knowing Life magazine and censorship of the time I can assure you it wasn’t dirty.  My guess it has something to do with Hitler or the Nazis. 
* The first graphic tee got it start in 1950 with guess who?  Disney of course, Mr. Master Marketer saw a way to make money off those cute cartoon characters he was creating.  The original licenses were for Mickey Mouse and Davey Crockett.      
* Credit Marlon Brando for the first tee shirt wearer to hit #1 on the “too hot” to handle chart. “A Streetcar Named Desire” came out in 1951 and featured Brando yelling for “Stella” in a ripped tee that showed off his back muscles. Tanks were in after that.  James Dean added fuel to the fire and white tee and blue denim became a “uniform” after “Rebel without a Cause in 1955.
* 1960’s brought us to tie-dye and became a symbol along with flower power and peace signs.  The ’80 and ’90’s was a time to take the edge off and designs got smoother and on the lighter side. 

And now you have the story of the lowly “gob shirt” that got used to start all kinds of movements and trends. Basically it is personal billboard that can carry a lot of messages and convey many attitudes.
All Hail the Mighty Tee Shirt!   


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