If we went back to the 1950′s in a magical time-traveling bubble and showed our grandparents the stuff people wear in public today, I’m pretty sure they would choose never to have children and we would never have existed at all. This would cause a massive time paradox that could very well untangle the very fabric of reality and destroy all time and space as we perceive it today. Because of the dangers involved, I refuse to take part in any time-traveling experiments and I refuse to wear t-shirts around my grandparents.
When our grandparents were fighting World Wars and drinking whiskey for lunch, they were wearing t-shirts while they were doing it. Yes, the t-shirts were plain white, made of 100% cotton, and were worn as underwear…but they were still t-shirts. Can you imagine a time when t-shirts were seen as the same as a pair of tightie-whities? I guess we should be grateful that briefs never took off as a great form of outerwear, right? Our grandparents have seen huge changes in the world of t-shirts. The evolution of the t-shirt has been a fast one indeed.
If we think that our grandparents were strange for their fear of showing too much t-shirt, then the 60′s existed only to let us know how equally crazy our parents were. No matter what your parents say, they were probably hippies. Hippies saw how their parents hid their t-shirts and decided they would wear nothing BUT t-shirts. I suppose it was a form of rebellion, but it did have an affect on the way America looked at the lowly t-shirt. Plain white tees were replaced in kind by a rainbow of colors and a serious lack of washing.
Not much changed during the decade of disco, since hippies pretty much tarnished the common man’s image of what t-shirts were. The 80′s brought a big boom in the t-shirt industry, however, when corporations and punks waged a silent war over them. Corporations like Pepsi and Hershey made t-shirts plastered with their logo, while people who followed the punk rock scene used t-shirts as a canvas for their rage against politics and the status quo. Neither side won, but the punks made bold statement with nothing but plain-white tees and a few sharpies.
Today, people use t-shirts for all manner of purposes. There are t-shirts out there that look like stunning works of art. There are also t-shirts for sale that are so filthy that you expect the tag to say “Made of 100% Feces.” There is no real telling where the next t-shirt trend will come from or how it will change t-shirts in the future. All we can count on is that t-shirts are going to change, just like they’ve changed since the 1950′s when the Fonz was sporting them. When we are old and gray, we’re probably going to hate t-shirts too.