PICTURE: Gosia (www.sxc.hu)

The T-shirt is these days a ubiquitous piece of clothing, spanning gender, national, and cultural boundaries across the globe. But up until 100 years ago, the T-shirt as we know it didn’t exist.

The origins of the T-shirt (aka tee shirt) are somewhat obscured in the mists of history but it’s believed that the modern T-shirt (the T refers to the shape) was created around 1913 - the start of World War I - as a light undershirt worn by US sailors (there are, however, alternative stories such as the tale that the T-shirt shape was born when, inspecting hairy armed sailors wearing sleeveless undergarments, Queen Victoria demanded sleeves to be sewn onto their shirts).

Emerging as a fashion item in the Fifties - thanks to being worn by the likes of “Rebel without a Cause” James Dean - and, in doing so, making the transition from underwear to outerwear, the T-shirt hasn’t looked back since.

It quickly became a medium for a message - one of the first T-shirts with a slogan on it was apparently created in 1948 for New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey’s campaign for president - “Dew IT with Dewey”.

Since then everyone from anti-war protesters and political activists, rock band and film promoters, major corporations and small businesses - in fact almost anyone with a message - have used T-shirts to get their point across.

Recent years have seen the development of online retail models with a print your own design philosophy and, with it, countless blogs devoted to T-shirts and their designs.

SOURCES AND FOR MORE:

~ www.t-shirtcountdown.com/t-shirts/history.html

~ www.ziggystshirts.com/history-of-t-shirts.htm

~ www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/art/howto/tshirts/history.shtml

~ www.markedixon.com/new_page_10.htm

If you have a word you'd like to know the origins of, simply send an email to [email protected].