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History of the Shirt



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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 the needy.

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 was born.
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 of shirts.

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,

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