Happy birthday, T-shirt -- it's turning 100!

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

Tshirt 400

Get ready to party ... The T-shirt, one of fashion’s most basic yet most versatile staples, is marking its 100th birthday this year.

Want to brush up on your T-shirt trivia in honor of the occasion? CustomInk, which allows people to customize their own T-shirts online, has created a birthday website, complete with photos of the most popular tees and a timeline of key moments from the shirt’s life.

According to, the T-shirt had humble beginnings as an undershirt. In 1913, the U.S. Navy issued crewneck tees to be worn under uniforms. The Merriam-Webster dictionary first recognized the term in 1920, defining it as “a collarless short-sleeved or sleeveless usually cotton undershirt [or] an outer shirt of similar design.”

In the decades to come, T-shirts turned more stylish with prints and slogans. They got political in the 1940s, when New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey’s campaign designed ones with the phrase “Dew it with Dewey” printed on them when he ran for president. Even Hollywood contributed to the T-shirt’s popularity when Marlon Brando sported one in the 1951 film “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

From outlets for protest to pieces of a stylish ensemble, the T-shirt has lived a full life. Join the celebration by following CustomInk on Twitter @Customink and Facebook. Happy birthday!     

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