THE ITEM

THE WHITE T-SHIRT

The jeans and T-shirt combination is a timeless look mastered by the eternal style icon James Dean. Read on for a history lesson on the most popular fashion item of all.

THE STORY BEHIND IT
Between the final years of the 1800s and the early 1900s, the T-shirt was invented. It’s believed to have evolved from a flannel one-piece called the union suit, which was common men’s underwear during the 1800s. The one-piece was great for keeping its wearer warm but hopeless for cooling him down – so it was replaced by the T-shirt out of necessity. 

Until the middle of the 1900s, the figure-hugging T-shirt was never worn as anything else than underwear, and wearing it without a second layer on top was frowned upon. That changed in two steps: When troops returned from the Second World War it became accepted as casual wear, and in 1951 it reached fashion status thanks to Marlon Brando sporting a tight one in cult classic A Streetcar Named Desire. With James Dean’s leading role in Rebel Without a Cause, the trend exploded – and it hasn’t faded since. Wearing a T-shirt with rolled up sleeves, semi-tucked into a pair of blue jeans became an iconic and timeless look.

After its promotion from underwear to fashion item, the T-shirt arguably became the most popular garment of them all – for so many reasons.

HOW TO STYLE IT
The T-shirt is a wardrobe basic and something we all own. As with all clothes, the fit is everything – and styling is important if you want to stand out from other wearers (i.e. everyone). So find a good fit! That means tight – but not too tight – and absolutely not too short.

This season the printed t-shirt is on trend again, just like the elongated model has been for some time. The printed one is simple to pull off – unlike the latter. To pull off an elongated tee, you need to layer it under a bomber jacket or hoodie. Our favourite all-time trend is tucking it in to channel the James Dean look from the 1950s. When H&M Life stylist Columbine Smille styled the T-shirt, she went for the iconic and timeless look and rolled up the sleeves and tucked it in a pair of black jeans.

“The T-shirt and jeans combination is an everyday uniform for a lot of men, but the item goes just as well together with suit trousers. It’s perfect for dressing down a dressed up look”, she says.

 

Photographer Tobias Lundkvist’s favourite items are the classics: a black t-shirt and Chuck Taylors. Stylist Columbine Smille’s favourite item is the perfect black silk dress. Our model is super hunk Sacha M'Baye. Hair by Mette Thorsgaard and makeup by Josefin Scherdin. 

White T-shirts on Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, Johnny Depp, Sidney Poitier in Lilies Of The Field, Ryan Gosling in Only God Forgives, Michael Jackson, Paul Newman in The Hustler and James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause, Getty Images/ All Over Press.
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