Early in the medieval age a young ambitious knight felt he wasn’t performing his duties at full capacity, mainly because of the extreme discomfort he felt beneath his armor. In order to relieve this annoyance he commissioned an artisan to make him a white cotton undershirt. The young knight was Sir Jonathan T. Shirt, who would later become king.
I know that the above anecdote is grossly inaccurate and a historical abomination, but I believe that the white tee has earned this sort of origin. It is hard to believe, but some genius out there actually came up with this idea. An article of clothing so simple and perfect that, in its two-hundred-year-or-so history, it is virtually unchanged. It is used in so many variations that even the most talented designers in the world can’t help but succumb to its effortlessness.
About ten years ago I was hanging out with Lazaro Hernandez, (shortly before he rightfully skyrocketed to fame with Proenza Schouler), and a close girlfriend of his asked him for help picking out an outfit for a party that we were going to. So, of course I couldn’t help but look forward to what sort of gem he would come up with. In the bat of an eyelash he placed an oversized, slightly dirty, white t-shirt in place of whatever top she was wearing and told her she was ready… genius.
It is its simplicity that allows this wardrobe staple to get away with so much. What else do you own that you could go out to a fabulous party in, then go straight to bed, wake up, have brunch, go to the beach, and later that night put a cool blazer on and go out on a date, all the while being style appropriate.
I love you white t-shirt,
I love the way you feel as I write this,
I love how cool you made Marlon Brando look in StreetCar,
I love the way my wife looks in you,
I love that you can be really cheap or absurdly overpriced,
I love that you love NY,
I love that you were invented regardless of how it may have happened.
Photo Credits: Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire
Main Photo Credits: Tom Schierlitz