History of the Shirt
The article of clothing often symbolizing elegance and refinement
but also an expression of liberty, the shirt for centuries has accompanied
and characterized the life of men. Worn by emperors, generals and
by common people without distinction, with the passage of time it
assumes different roles and meanings.
Until the time of the Italian Republic (1860s), as can be deduced
from Latin sources, known by the term "subucula" the shirt
had the function of modern undergarments. His historians report
that Charles the Great "...wore directly on his person a shirt
and pants of linen cotton." Men and women in the city and the
country dressed in the same manner: shirt and long tunic with sleeves
of different dimensions. The popularity of the shirt continuously
increased and it became a gift object for both the privileged and
Beginning in the 1300s also art and literature give prominence to
this top garment: in the canvases of many painters among which is
Caravaggio, or in the literary works such as Boccaccio's Decameron,
where often men and women wore shirts. We suppose therefore that
its wide adoption was above all for reasons of hygiene.
Many cities became famous for their shirt production, such as Venice,
where for the wedding of noblewoman Lucieta Gradenigo a "shirt
of gold" was created. In the 1500s the true protagonist was
the collar: from the small flat collars called French to the Italian
version that took the form and name of "frill", to the
"giorgiera" that required an enormous expanse of fabric
up to 11 meters (36 ft.).
In 1843 at Montevideo in Italy the famous red shirt of the Garibaldini
The shirt, its success constantly growing, began to alter its style
according to the occasion: white without a collar and with wide
sleeves for the painter, white and at times without a right sleeve
for the sword duel, or well hidden under the jacket for pistols.
In the 20th century it was above all the American cinema that popularized
different types of shirts. Pure white shirts with flowing sleeves
worn by Rudolph Valentino, the "Oxford" of Humphrey Bogart,
the type suited for the hard life of the far west worn on screen
by John Wayne, or to finish, the mythic Hawaiian worn by Tom Sellek
in the cult series "Magnum P.I." of the 1980s.
Of the many types of shirts, how can one forget the "button
down", in particular for the varying accounts of its true origin
and authorship. The most memorable suggests that the founder of
this most famous American shirt industry, the cult following of
this leader of shirts, was inspired in England at a polo match where
the players had their collars attached to keep them from flapping
in the wind. The more credited version however is another in which
its anonymous inventor found himself on a pier in the New York harbor
during a particularly windy day and, annoyed by his collar blowing
in the wind, attached it at the ends with buttons made of mother
of pearl. Whichever is its true genesis, the "button down"
is found in formal settings, with the collar open, in moments of
relaxation, and dressed up with a tie or bowtie for important occasions,
demonstrating that it is the most versatile leader of the many models
With this brief voyage through the history of the shirt we can see
that from its first appearance in ancient times to today man has
never stopped producing it in new shapes and fashions, wearing it
in different ways and loving it with an immutable passion,
a shirt custom made for YOU in Italy...