Cool, Comfortable, Chic: The Classic T-Shirt

When thinking of a classic t-shirt, it’s normal to envision James Dean leaning against a Model T in jeans and a soft vintage tee. District® Clothing is one of those t-shirt companies that believes in the “Classic Tee”—a timeless shirt for both genders that can be dressed up or worn exactly as is, while made of the highest quality.

DM108L_hthrdteal_model_front_042014_4801A Brief History of the Classic Tee

Though you may have a specific image in your head about the classic t-shirt, it’s interesting to think about where the t-shirt originated, and what part specific t-shirt companies played in its creation.

Originating as an undergarment for men to wear, the t-shirt is over 100 years old and has, since its founding, been tie-dyed, worn both tight and loose, and designed for every shape. Its first form was dubbed a “union suit.” First made in New York, the union suit was a basic garment made of a single piece of cloth. It was a white button-up—simple, classic, timeless.

Soon, P.H. Hanes Knitting Company started making their own long underwear, and became one of the very first t-shirt companies to release their own version in 1902, a men’s undergarment that was similar in look to the union suit, but not as long.

1938 rolled around, and with it came the popularity of nylon. Sears introduced their own version of the t-shirt, dubbed the “gob” shirt. Sold at only 24 cents, it was very popular among customers.

Movie Stars, Politicians, and Their Tees

When t-shirt companies began producing the soft shirts that people think of today, average Joes and celebrities alike snapped them up. In Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean gave t-shirts that added cool factor, and Marlon Brando did the same in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Promotional t-shirts, which are popular today among politicians and organizations, started in 1948 with Governor Thomas E. Dewey’s slogan, “DEW-It with Dewey,” which was printed on t-shirts for his presidential campaign.

DM340_redhthr_model_front_042014_4801Popular T-Shirt Designs

Perhaps the most popular alteration to a t-shirt is screen printing—it works by separating the design into individual colors. Water-based inks or plastisol are added to the shirts via mesh screens, which limits where the ink is placed on the shirt.

With most commercial t-shirt printing, specific design colors are implemented. To get a broader color spectrum with limited colors, process printing—which only uses cyan, magenta, black, and yellow ink—or simulated process—which uses black, red, green, white, blue, and gold ink—are the most useful.

With the popularity of displaying name brands on your tees in the nineties, screen printing has become a trendy design method. Luckily, with companies like District® Clothing, you can effectively design your own look while remaining comfy and stylish. With t-shirt companies in convenient spots like the mall and online, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for!