Did you know that shirts were first worn as early as the 18th dynasty of ancient Egypt (c. 1539–1292 BCE)? Made of a rectangular folded piece of linen and sewn across the sides, it had openings left for the arms and a hole slit at the fold for the head.
Modest, to say the least.
In the West, the practice of popping a piece of clothing over your head to cover the top of your body dates back to before the Middle Ages.
While not coined “shirt” just yet, the purpose of these garments was as underwear for men or as a nightgown. They had an adjustable hem that could be buttoned, but no collar or cuffs. The garment was often made out of linen or silk, so you can imagine how luxurious these pieces felt on the body.
From the end of the Middle Ages until the end of the 19th century, shirts became quite formal and acted as a display of wealth and rank. During this time, embellished shirts made of a variety of luxurious fabrics were reserved by law only for those of high rank.
Yet, at the end of World War I, the shirt went through a major transformation. This is when the modern shirt with buttons along the front became popular. A vest worn underneath the suit jacket started to appear less often in the 1960s, which led to the introduction of the chest pocket.
This evolution has led to the classic variation of the button-up shirt we know today.
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