The T-shirt celebrates 100 years - New York News

The T-shirt celebrates 100 years

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NEW JERSEY (MYFOXNY.COM) -

A shirt named for a letter celebrates a very big number this year.

"One hundred years," What Goes Around Comes Around store president Seth Weisser said.

Weisser carries hundreds of vintage rock and roll T-shirts in his store -- some retailing for as much as $3,000.

Born in the U.S.A. under the stewardship of New Jersey-native Woodrow Wilson in 1913, the original T-shirt sold for much less, first conquering the ranks of our armed forces.

There, before it became the ultimate symbol of dressing down, U.S. Navy leaders issued white tees to force sailors to button up: The very first T-shirts served to hide any chest hair that might poke through a uniform's V-neck collar.

"Originally the usage was more for work wear or the gym," Weisser said.

But when the Second World War ended, servicemen returned home and with them brought buttonless freedom to American forearms and biceps from sea to shining sea.

"The T-shirt's always good because it's like a second skin for you," Weisser said. "Jeans and a T-shirt is everyone's wishful wardrobe."

Hollywood heartthrobs like James Dean and Marlon Brando made a comfortable shirt a fashion statement. And from there, T-shirts evolved into political statements, ridiculously successful PR campaigns, grungy simplicity, frat-party souvenirs and memories of vacations loved ones took without us.

"I've got some shirts that should be retired at this point," Weisser said.

But whether $10 or the cost of a nice home in the 'burbs (Hermes sells a shirt for more than $91K), for the majority of us some T-shirt tucked away somewhere in some dark drawer brings back feelings of nostalgia.

"T-shirts usually have alternative meanings for a lot of people," Weisser said, "whether it's a band T-shirt or a particular time you wore the shirt or memories you had associated with it."

An American institution gone international, at 100 years old still fits just right.

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