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A T-shirt.

A T-shirt (also called tee) is a style of shirt (or undershirt), named as such because of the T shape made with the body and sleeves. It usually has short sleeves, a round neck line, and no collar. However, some variations may include long sleeves, buttons, collars or v-necks. It can be worn for several purposes, including: as casual wear, as a working attire, in schools, in sport activities, and in the military.

T-shirts are usually made of cotton and can be decorated with text and/or pictures, and they are often used to advertise, promote products, companies, movies and websites. There are many styles for both men and women, and for all age groups. They can be worn together with trousers, shorts, jeans and other garments for the lower body.


The earliest T-shirt dates back to sometime between the 1898 Spanish–American War and 1913, when the U.S. Navy began issuing them as undergarments. These were a crew-necked, short-sleeved, white cotton undershirt to be worn under a uniform. It became common for sailors and Marines in work parties, the early submarines, and tropical climates to remove their uniform jacket, wearing (and soiling) only the undershirt.

They soon became popular as a bottom layer of clothing for workers in various industries, including agriculture. The T-shirt was easily fitted, easily cleaned, and inexpensive, and for those reasons it became the shirt of choice for young boys. Boys' shirts were made in various colors and patterns. The word T-shirt became part of American English by the 1920s, and appeared in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

By the Great Depression, the T-shirt was often the default garment to be worn when doing farm or ranch chores, as well as other times when modesty called for a torso covering but conditions called for lightweight fabrics. Following World War II, it became common to see veterans wearing their uniform trousers with their T-shirts as casual clothing. The shirts became even more popular in the 1950s after Marlon Brando wore one in A Streetcar Named Desire, finally achieving status as fashionable, stand-alone, outerwear garments. Often boys wore them while doing chores and playing outside, eventually opening up the idea of wearing them as general-purpose casual clothing.

In the 1960s, printed T-shirts gained popularity for self-expression as well for advertisements, protests, and souvenirs. Current versions are available in many different designs and fabrics, and styles include crew-neck and V-neck shirts.

See also[edit]


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