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T-shirts were originally worn as undershirts. Now T-shirts are worn frequently as the only piece of clothing on the top half of the body, other than possibly a bra or an undershirt (vest). T-shirts have also become a medium for self-expression and advertising, with any imaginable combination of words, art and even photographs on display.[2]
A T-shirt typically extends to the waist. Variants of the T-shirt, like the tank top, crew neck, A-shirt (with the nickname "wife beater"), muscle shirt, scoop neck, and the V-neck have been developed. Hip hop fashion calls for "tall-T" T-shirts which may extend down to the knees. A 1990s trend in women's clothing involved tight-fitting "cropped" T-shirts that are short enough to reveal the midriff. Another popular trend is wearing a "long-sleeved T-shirt", then putting a short-sleeved T-shirt of a different color over the long-sleeved shirt; this is known as "layering".
The T-shirt evolved from undergarments used in the 19th century, through cutting the one-piece "union suit" underwear into separate top and bottom garments, with the top long enough to tuck under the waistband of the bottoms. T-shirts, with and without buttons, were adopted by miners and stevedores during the late 19th century as a convenient covering for hot environments.
T-shirts, as a slip on garment without buttons, originally became popular in the United States when they were issued by the U.S. Navy during or following the Spanish American War. 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. It is possible that the Navy uniform boards first discovered the T-shirt by watching dock crews.
Named the T-shirt due to the shape of the garment's outline, 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 this reason, it became the shirt of choice for young boys (perhaps more the choice of their mothers than of the boys themselves). Boys' shirts were made in various colors and patterns.
By the time of 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, and they became even more popular after Marlon Brando wore one in A Streetcar Named Desire, finally achieving status as fashionable, stand-alone, outer-wear garments.[1]
In today, many notable and memorable t-shirts produced in the 1970s have now become ensconced in pop culture.
Examples include the bright yellow happy face t shirts, the Rolling Stones tops with their tongues sticking out, and of course, the iconic "I ♥ N Y.”
Another popular shirt design among tourists is the funny phrase, “My parents went to ______ (name of place), and all I got was this lousy shirt!.”
They can also be used to carry commercial advertising, souvenir messages and protest art messages.


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