After all the cold and chill of a long winter, It’s officially summer. Today is the Summer Solstice, which means that those of us in the Northern Hemisphere will experience the longest amount of sunlight hours in the entire year. It’s already felt like Summer since May, and at least here in the Ohio River Valley we skipped straight from Winter to Summer. We’ve only just been experiencing spring the last couple of weeks. Besides the official first day of Summer, it’s also International T-Shirt Day.
I thought Summer and the solstice get enough credit, so I skipped over it in favor of the more overlooked International T-Shirt Day, a day that celebrates a part of my wardrobe around 300 days a year. T-Shirts are an almost ubiquitous style of shirt. Those who dress more formally will wear a solid plain T-Shirt as an undershirt for use under collared shirts to wick away perspiration and prevent bodily oils from disrupting the material of the collared shirts. This was the historical practice of men wearing T-Shirts during the 18th Century. The Industrial Revolution helped make Tee shaped undergarments that were more form fitted than their predecessors, as these t-shirts became popular for factory workers, miners, and other blue-collar laborers, the trend towards a stand-alone component of attire was at work. The military starting with the U.S. Navy in WWI began including undershirt T-Shirts under their uniforms, but soldiers and sailors in hot climates usually wore the T-Shirt by itself along with the standard trousers on bottom. This practice really took hold in WWII and as with many service practices in WWII became part of civilian life for returning soldiers. Mimicking the soldiers wearing T-Shirts as standalone attire were celebrities Marlon Brando and James Dean, and their popularity spurred the change in attitude of Americans regarding T-Shirts.
I like to wear the plain white T-Shirt under other shirts in the winter to provide an extra layer of warmth during those cold months, but I usually also wear a graphic T-Shirt over the undershirt as well. I’m a fan of the T-Shirt for a few reasons: 1) No time wasted on buttoning, 2) No long sleeves that restrict movement or get in my way around dinnertime, 3) No need to tuck in, and lastly 4) Means of expressing identity.
Now I know that some people see the T-Shirt as too informal and the only acceptable T-Shirt is as an undershirt or during vacation. Others see it as an acceptable article of clothing usable in ¾ of the events they attend. Still a smaller group sees it as a statement against snooty people and celebrate a feisty blue-collar humility that only undertakers and the deceased wear collared shirt and tie. I fall into the 2nd of these camps. I like to wear T-Shirts in most situations but recognize the need for more formal attire as the occasion calls for it. My mom reminded me that Monday night when I was to meet the parishioners of the two churches I would be serving to dress appropriately. I know that since it was basically a job interview, that a collared shirt tucked in, slacks, and dressier shoes were the attire of the day. I’ll admit, that during the week, these new parishioners will get used to seeing me wear T-shirts and shorts or jeans depending on the temperatures. I’m sure that if this becomes a problem, I’ll hear about it and I’ll adjust according to the expectations. I might also direct them to this blog post too. 😉
What are your thoughts on T-Shirts? Might I suggest if possible, celebrate International T-Shirt Day by wearing your favorite T-Shirt today.