One of the most versatile and comfortable items in your casual wardrobe, the humble t-shirt for men or women, could be more interesting than you think. Here is a list of ten facts you didn’t know about the humble t-shirt.
1. From man’s shirt to t-shirt
Men’s and women’s t-shirts have evolved from the man’s dress shirt which was popularised in the early nineteenth century. Men’s t-shirts became popular after they were worn by European soldiers in the World War in order to keep them cool and comfortable. In the Second World War, t-shirts were standard army issues. The popularity of women’s t-shirts eventually followed.
2. The origins of the ‘t-shirt’
The word ‘t-shirt’ first appeared in the dictionary in the 1920s. Two other best-selling books during the same time period were The Beautiful and the Damned, The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise by Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, and Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway.
3. From training shirts to t-shirts
There are a handful of theories about the origins of the word ‘t-shirt’. One simply claims it is a reference to the shape of the garment, although another believes it is abbreviated from the term ‘training shirt’ that was the name given to the t-shirts first worn by the army in 1914.
4. The birth of the promotional t-shirt
Today men’s and women’s t-shirts are widely used to promote events, causes and bands. One of the first promotional t-shirts was printed in 1939 for the classic film ‘The Wizard of Oz’, starring a 16-year-old Judy Garland.
5. T-shirts worldwide
Approximately 2 billion men’s and women’s t-shirts are sold worldwide every single year, with China being the top producer of cotton (32 million cotton bales per year), followed by India (23.5 million bales), followed by the United States (12.4 million bales). One bale is enough to make approximately 1,217 men’s t-shirts.
6. The most expensive t-shirt ever
One of the most expensive t-shirt ever sold was geekowear. originally owned by John Lennon in the 1970s. It had the word ‘Home’ printed on it, the name of a restaurant he and Yoko Ono regularly visited in New York City. It was sold for $16,400.
7. The world’s favourite tee colour
Thirty-four per cent of respondents in a recent survey said that their favourite colour tee is white, followed by blue and black. In the same survey 70 percent of men and 54 percent of women claimed to have more than ten t-shirts each.
It takes approximately six miles of cotton yarn to make one t-shirt. That’s the distance from Trafalgar Square in the heart of London to Alexandra Palace and it would take about two hours to walk that distance.
9. The most versatile item of clothing ever?
T-shirts aren’t just for the summer. Women’s tees can be layered under knitwear in the winter, teamed with a denim skirt, tights and boots. Men’s shirts can also be layered under sweatshirts and hooded jumpers for extra warmth.