When Were T Shirts Invented

One of the most ubiquitous items in any individual's closet is the coveted T-shirt. They are comfortable, easy to purchase, and can have a variety of designs. If you were to look in your closet, you will most likely find several different T-shirts. This may include plain tees, workout shirts, and branded tees. However, despite being quite easily accessible, most don’t know the origins of these clothing items. So, when were T Shirts invented?


In this article, we will discuss when T-shirts were invented and who invented them.


When Were T Shirts Invented and What Are Shirts Made of?


Dating back to 1898, the T-shirt was first introduced during the Spanish-American War. Due to intense heat, workers cut their jumpsuits to help stay cool. This trick would be implemented by coal mine workers or dockers. However, the now-famous clothing item made waves in 1913. The United States Navy included the T-shirt as part of its standard uniform. The clothing item evolved from the previously-used long-john pajama sets. Again, they were meant to help prevent sailors from exhaustion and overheating. 


Interestingly, it was solely meant to be worn as an undergarment. In fact, it would take decades for the T-shirt to be considered appropriate outside attire. 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire, a film adaptation of the stage play, played an integral part in popularizing the clothing item in American culture. Marlon Brando, the lead character, wore T-shirts during the film and iconized the item as a sign of fashionable rebellion. A few years later, James Dean properly cemented the T-shirt as a staple of American clothing with his performance in 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause.


Who Invented T Shirts?


There are varying reports about the first company to invent T-shirts. The P.H. Hanes Knitting Company started producing short-sleeved versions of the long-john pajamas in 1901. Shortly thereafter, the Cooper Underwear Company, now known as Jockey, introduced the “bachelor undershirt” in 1904. Its primary selling points were the lack of buttons and no need for sewing. At the start of the following decade, Fruit of the Loom began mass-manufacturing and advertising clothing items that most commonly resemble T-shirts. 


The T-Shirt’s Literary Beginnings


While many can debate as to who properly introduced T-shirts, there is no argument as to who created the name. Famous author F. Scott Fitzgerald first coined the term “T-shirt” in his 1920 novel This Side of Paradise. The word was later formally inducted into the English dictionary. 


Cultural Icons Popularized T-Shirts


Throughout the 30s and 40s, T-shirts were commonly worn by college athletes or as part of school uniforms. After its meteoric rise in popularity due to Brando and Dean, the clothing item became extremely common outerwear items.  


However, it was still primarily viewed as men’s clothing. T-shirts truly became unisex during the late 60s and early 70s. Thankfully, these items are now easily accessible to everyone. 


What are T-Shirts Made of?


Typically, T-shirts are made from cotton, and for good reason. This type of fabric is quite durable and breathable. Since these types of shirts are made from such high-quality and comfortable fabrics, they are great for everyday wear. In addition, cotton provides a perfect template for printed images and logos. The only true drawback of cotton T-shirts is their tendency to shrink. However, if you wash with cold water, you may prevent this from occurring. 


Variations in Types of Cotton


To continue, there are several different types of cotton used to make T-shirts. Regular cotton is often used as it produces high-quality items at relatively inexpensive prices. Alternatively, Pima cotton is pricier but can result in softer and more durable T-shirts. For an environmentally-friendly option, you can choose organic cotton. These shirts are made without harmful chemicals and are soft and breathable.


Polyester T-Shirts


Polyester T-shirts can be a great choice for exercise or outdoor activities. They are high-quality items that remain durable against stretching or wrinkling. However, since these shirts are not biodegradable, they can be harmful to the environment. 


When Should You Wear T-Shirts?


T-shirts can be worn during most times and occasions. They are perfect for home wear as they are quite comfortable and made from soft, high-quality materials. In addition, these are great outerwear items with a variety of styles and logos. However, since they are considered casual clothing, it may not be best to wear them during professional or formal events. 


Are You Ready to Buy High-Quality T-Shirts? Contact Us


With multiple warehouse locations, Wholesale Socks Deals can help you purchase comfortable and affordable T-shirts. We are open Mondays to Thursdays from 10 AM to 5 PM. Also, our Friday office hours are 10 AM to 3 PM. It is our goal to provide quality and efficient service to all of our customers. For more information, you can speak with a customer specialist by calling 855-457-6257.