The history
of men's shirt I
Shirt tips
for every day of the week.

Nothing makes a man look so good, but a white, perfectly tailored shirt. The case of women is similar. They look best in their man's white, too large shirt! Oh, yes. This is what we were taught by the James Bond films and the fashion revolution of the early twentieth century. But before it has become a symbol of true manhood and gentlemen's elegance it had undergone a long and arduous metamorphosis.

Inventors of good style 


The nomadic peoples of Central Asia are considered to be ancestors of this most comfortable garment. The Babylonians and the Egyptians also added three pennies to the history. Do you find the Greek chitons and Roman tunics amusing? They deserve special respect! They are the close relatives of the contemporary men's shirts. But let's start from the beginning. The world's oldest surviving piece of men's clothing was discovered by British archaeologist Flinders Petrie. The impeccably dressed gentleman was looking into the Egyptian tombs in search of the unknown ... and he found a real gem - an elegant linen shirt. Shoulders and sleeves were fine-pleated, which gave the body a suitable shape and allowed freedom of movement. A decorative seam was the icing on the cake. The find was extremely valuable, because it showed the fashion trends in ancient Egypt.




A shirt tells you the truth about a man 


Contemporary creators of style spend many hours developing this unique and perfectly tailored shirt. In its original version it was actually trivial to make. Two rectangular pieces of fabric (undyed linen, hemp or wool) were sewn together along the long side until the shoulder height. Then they were fastened together with fibulas, which could serve today as designer pins. Are you familiar with the saying: "Fine feathers make fine birds"? Oh, yes. Nobody is willing to admit it, but everyone does it - judge by the appearances. And basically, by the appearance of the shirt. It was no different in ancient Rome. That's where the colors and the tunic cut defined social status. 


Shirt as underwear 


Antiquity was definitely a golden age for the shirt. Unfortunately, the Christian world treated it like an unwanted gift and relegated to the function of ... underwear! Well, well. Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward with full power. It was no different in this case. Anyway, this sudden change of attitude is worthwhile explaining. First of all, it has to do with the approach to the subject of human corporeality. The times when men used to expose their muscular bodies were effectively superseded by mortification. People thought only of covering up themselves tightly and there, the shirt came into use. In the twelfth century it was a fundamental underwear garment for both women and men. Several hundred years later it was extended to reach the ankles, only to reintroduce its shorter version in the fourteenth century. But more importantly -  everyone had a shirt. Regardless of age, gender, social status or the status of prosperity.




Like a naked king


Today, walking around in just a shirt is no bad thing. Especially on a hot day. In the Middle Ages it would have been considered a faux pas, as men showing up in public in just their shirts, were perceived as completely naked! They might have as well paraded without any clothes on, and they would not have aroused greater scandal. Today we no longer understand the piquancy of the scene in the Polish epic poem "Pan Tadeusz", where the protagonist catches Zosieńka running around the garden wearing just a shirt. Today, we imagine an innocent nymph, in an ankle-length white dress. Not so long ago, a woman dressed this way was perceived as almost completely naked. In the case of men, the tradition dictated that a shirt be covered with successive layers of clothing. To this day, according to the rules of savoir vivre, when a man wants to take off his jacket and wear a shirt only, he should ask the ladies accompanying him for permission. It's actually probably the only remnant of the old world's culture, in which the shirt was not only a fundamental but also somewhat embarrassing piece of clothing.


The turbulent history of the shirt is a time of ups and downs. In this section you got to know its underwear side. Curious, what happened next? Who brought the shirt to the showrooms? You will find the second part of the story here: PART II.