T-shirt evolved from the clothes 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 bottom. 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 United States Navy during or after the Spanish American War. It is a crew-necked short-sleeved, white cotton undershirt to be worn under the uniform. It became common for sailors and Marines in work parties, the early submarines, and tropical climates to remove the uniform "jacket", wearing (and soiling) only the shirt. It is possible that the Navy uniform boards first discovered the T-shirt to see the crew dock.
Named the T-shirt as an outline form the garment, they soon became popular as a bottom layer of clothing for workers in various industries, including agriculture. T-shirt with easy to install, easy to clean, and inexpensive, and for this reason it became the shirt of choice for young boys (perhaps more choices their mothers than boys themselves). Boys shirt 'made in various colors and patterns.
At the time of the Great Depression, the T-shirt is often the default garment worn when doing farm chores or farm, as well as other times when modesty called for a torso covering but conditions called for lightweight fabrics.
After World War II, became common to see veterans wearing their uniform trousers with 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, out- wear clothes.
Beginning in the late 1960s, the T-shirt became a medium for wearable art. Psychedelic art poster designer Warren Dayton pioneered several political, protest, and pop-culture art T-shirts featuring images Cesar Chavez, political cartoons, and other cultural icons in an article in the Los Angeles Times magazine in late 1969. Today, many prominent and memorable T-shirts produced in the 1970s have now become ensconced in pop culture.
Examples include the bright yellow happy face T-shirt, The Rolling Stones tops with "tongue and lips" their logo and iconic "I ♥ NY".
Another popular shirt design among tourists is the humorous phrase, "continued my parents for ______ (name of the place), and all I got was this lousy shirt".
They can also be used to carry commercial advertising, souvenir messages, and protest art messages.
T-shirts were originally worn as undershirts. Now T-shirts are often used as the only clothing on the upper body, other than possibly a bra or undershirt (vest). T-shirts have also become a medium for self-expression and advertising, with the conceivable combination of words, art, and even photographs on display.
A T-shirt typically extends to the waist. Variants of the T-shirt, like the tank top, crew neck, A-shirt (with a "wife beater" nickname), muscle shirt, scoop neck, and V-neck have been developed. Hip hop fashion calls for "Tall-T" T-shirts which may extend down to the knee. Trends in the 1990s in women's clothing involved tight "cropped" T-shirts short enough to reveal the midriff. Another popular tendency is to wear a long-sleeved T-shirt, then put a short sleeve T-shirts of different colors on a long sleeve shirt, this is known as "layering"