It’s just another morning, you’re getting ready to go to work and you take out your crisp, ironed shirt from the wardrobe, a shirt. A shirt is a an indispensable garment that you treat with uttermost care. You have an undiminishing desire and want to wear it as soon as you buy one. Aah, the feeling! And then you long for wearing it again and again. Accompanied by a suit and a tie of impeccable taste, it gives you a sleek,classy look or casually unbuttoned a little with your favourite pair of denims, it makes you look perfect for a date!
The history underlying this garment is rich. Since before the middle ages the shirt has existed as a piece of clothing, as union suits, better known as ‘long underwear’ . At the end of World War I ,they evolved into what we now know as ‘Shirts’ . This was achieved simply by separating the top and bottom halves.
Here are some interesting facts about the evolution of our staple clothing-Shirts:
1. The Collar Story
There have been so many times when we have had to retire a shirt because of a dark ring around the inner collar when the body and sleeves of the shirt are intact.Amazingly enough, until the invention of the washing machines, shirts had detachable collars and cuffs which were changed when they needed laundered.This way the main body of the shirt was worn for at least a week or so!
By the 18th century, the collar grew into enormous proportions and was decorated with embroidery and lace.Later, the collar grew back to smaller sizes again.
Button Down Collars were invented by polo players who wished to ensure their collars did not flap as they rode their horses.
2. Indecency rules
In the 18th century, if a man’s shirt was visible and not covered by a waistcoat or a jacket, he was considered to be indecently dressed. This was punishable with imprisonment.
3.White Collar Jobs
A ‘white collar’ worker is one having a professional office based occupation while a ‘blue collar’ works having a trade requiring hands-on manual labor. Historically, though, the ‘white collar’ and ‘blue collar’ workers were distinguished by the color of the cloth of the shirt that they were required to wear and this was an indication of the wearer’s social working status.
Even in today’s modern times, the 2 most popular shirt colors are blue and white where 34% Americans claim that white is their favourite shirt color.
4. Golden Days Of Tailoring
Shirts were never mass produced in factories. The wealthier men got them tailorshirt-made for a perfect fit while the common man wore the shirts stitched by their wives.
Starched high rigid collars distinguished the elite from the clerks ,who necessitated low collars for ease of movement.
5.A Loopy tale
At the back of your shirt, where the pleat meets the yoke, there happens to be a small loop. Have you ever pondered why? In the olden days when there were no wardrobes ,these loops were used to hang the shirts, without getting wrinkles on it.It was initially called the ‘Locker Loop’ . Later, however, it was coined with other terms such as fairy loop, fag tag and fruity loop. Girls would often pull at the loop of the guy they found attractive, which could result in the shirt ripping off!
6.It’s All White!
The Classic White Shirt is familiar and omnipresent in Men’s fashion. The influence of the White Shirt can be traced back to the Victorian era where it was an important symbol of wealth ,class distinction and a powerful emblem of sobriety. The pure white color fulfilled masculine ideals of resolute austerity and only a person of substantial prosperity could have to afford their shirts washed frequently.
Next time, you walk through a showroom and glance at the rows of intricately folded and exactingly boxed shirts , you may pause to consider it’s important historic connections.