The Evolution of the Tee

Imagine a world without tee shirts. 

Your wardrobe would be considerably less casual, almost certainly less cool, definitely less comfortable. James Dean would have been less rebellious, Marlon Brando less swaggering. 

All of us would be a bit less ourselves. A tee shirt that you connect with on an emotional level is just as important as a great pair of jeans, couture dress or pair of designer shoes. 

The tee is beloved first and foremost for its functionality. It can be an undergarment or an outer garment; a well-constructed tee gives you more freedom of movement than most any other shirt. It is a foundation piece to any wardrobe. 

A brief history of tee

The world went a long time without tee shirts. 

Late in the 19th century, workers started cutting long underwear “union suits” in half when the weather warmed. Miners and dockworkers soon started wearing such shirts as everyday work shirts. By 1913 the U.S. Navy was issuing a crew-necked, short-sleeved white cotton undershirt as part of its standard uniform. By 1920, the term “t-shirt” entered dictionaries after writer F. Scott Fitzgerald used it in his novel This Side of Paradise: 

“So early in September Amory, provided with six suits summer underwear, six suits winter underwear, one sweater or T shirt, one jersey, one overcoat, winter, etc., set out for New England, the land of schools.”

Waves of military men during WWII further popularized tee shirts as standalone outerwear garments, so much so that the soldiers’ favorite pin-up girl, actress Veronica Lake, was shown wearing a tee in an iconic promo shot for Paramount Pictures circa 1945. And then in 1951 along came A Streetcar Named Desire, in which actor Marlon Brando’s brooding and charismatic character wore a tee shirt throughout. Finally, in 1955, James Dean, in Rebel Without A Cause, made the tee shirt downright cool. A newly hatched musical genre, rock ‘n’ roll, made the tee shirt an emblem of freedom. 

Excess would soon follow. Every trinket shop in the world would eventually sell decorative tees, made of cheap cotton and festooned with whatever declamations might attract a shopping tourist or wayward sports fan.

But the basic unadorned tee shirt endured. And now, in a time when the refinement of luxury has entered the more casual world of essential apparel, the tee has evolved. 

The Luxury Tee Shirt

Once upon a not so distant time, the prevailing notion of luxury was diamonds and furs. Luxury was about the non-essential but desirable things in life that people wanted but most would never have. And for most, luxury was about somebody else.

Things have changed. Luxury is no longer about excess, it’s about paring down to what is elevated and essential. Now, luxury is about you.

Today, luxury can be felt in the simple but essential pleasure of a beautifully made tee shirt.

Consider a Myles Price tee.  We start with the finest cotton in the world. Extra Long Staple is more durable, holds color more vividly, and grows softer with each wash throughout its entire life. The shirt is then designed with techniques once reserved for haute couture. Through numerous fittings, in concert with the natural qualities of the cotton, a tee shirt emerges that is both elegant and supremely functional.  This is a tee shirt that has achieved perfect fit.

How does this tee shirt give you luxury?

The moment you slip the shirt on, you feel its gentle touch on your skin.  You feel more yourself. 

This is luxury. This is the tee shirt, refined.