What is the difference between Shirts and T-shirts?

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We tend to have extensive knowledge of great and academic things such as the differences between the Moon and Sun, the rotating principles of the Earth, etc but with familiar things which exist around us, we have less understanding of them. In this article, Printerval will share with you how to distinguish two common types of apparel, shirts, and t-shirts. It is true that we use them every single day but can you exactly figure out the differences between them? 

With four specific criteria including definition, history, construction, and use, Printerval ensures that the article will surely provide you with the exact and understandable information as well as the scientific arrangement.

Difference in definition

Right on the way shirts and t-shirt are defined, it is easy to figure out the difference between the two sorts of clothing. 

what is the differences between shirts and t-shirts

What is Shirt?

A shirt is defined as a fabric garment worn for the upper body (from the neck to the waist). In the early time, the shirt was known as an undergarment and worn exclusively by men. In particular, shirts can be understood separately between American English and British English. In American English, the shirt is the catch-all term used to call a broad variety of upper-body garments and undergarments. Meanwhile, according to British English, the shirt is used to denote a garment with a collar, sleeves with cuffs, and a full vertical opening with buttons or snaps, and people can wear a necktie under the shirt collar. 

( Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirt)

What is T-shirt?

A T-shirt, also known as a tee-shirt, is a style of fabric garment belonging to shirts. This type of shirt is called a T-shirt for its T shape formed by its body and sleeves. Crew neck which has short sleeves and a round neckline but is collarless is the earliest type of t-shirt appearing in ancient times. In the early time, most t-shirts were made of a stretchy, light, and inexpensive fabric and were easy to clean. Originally, t-shirts were used as undergarments and it was not until the mid-20th century that they transitioned from undergarments to general-use casual clothing.

T-shirts are usually seen as fast fashion which is inexpensive to produce and has outsized sales compared to other attire. T-shirts are really popular in the world, both sale and use. For example, it is estimated that approximately two billion t-shirts are sold annually in the United States. 

( Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-shirt)

The difference in History and Innovation

How was the shirt invented and innovated?

Shirt in the early time
Shirt in the early time

A "highly sophisticated" linen shirt from a First Dynasty Egyptian tomb at Tarban was discovered by Flinders Petrie which is seen as the world's oldest preserved garment. This old shirt dates back to c. 3000 BC. The shirt’s shoulders and sleeves were described to be finely pleated to give form-fitting trimness while allowing the wearer room to move. Its small fringe formed during weaving along one edge of the cloth has been placed by the designer to decorate the neck opening and side seam. 

Originally, this type of clothing was worn exclusively by men as underwear and that has changed since the 20th century. During the Middle Ages, shirts were plain and undyed garments worn next to the skin and under regular garments. Shirts also appeared in medieval artworks which were visible (uncovered) on humble characters such as prisoners, penitents, and shepherds. 

It was not until the 17th century that men were allowed to show their shirts. And a century later, it was widely believed that men who did not wear shirts to bed were indecent. Back in the 16th century, the shirts often had embroidery, frills, or lace at the neck and cuffs. But in the 18th century, the shirts were seen to be fashionable when they have long neck frills or jabots. 

In terms of colors, shirts began to be colored in the early nineteenth century that marked a significant milestone in shirts’ innovation. The colored shirt was seen in the paintings of George Caleb Bingham. 

Shirt in the early time
Shirt in the early time 

The 20th century witnessed a big change of shirt status when they were considered casual wear, for lower-class workers. Shirts were popular among the gentlemen class in 1920 and constituted the most commonplace event in 1980. In Europe and America, women started to wear Garibaldi shirts in 1860. The Garibaldi shirts are red shirts worn by the freedom fighters under Giuseppe Garibaldi. 

In 1827, a housewife in upstate New York named Hannah Montague invented the detachable collar. The story began with being tired of constantly washing her husband's entire shirt when only the collar needed it, Hannah Montague cut off his collars and devised a way of attaching them to the neckband after washing. The invention facilitated the popularity of this type of collar during the 1930s. 

( Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirt#History)

How was the t-shirt invented and innovated?

T-shirts in the early time
T-shirts in the early time 

The early T shape garments were called tunics, appearing in ancient times but the modern T-shirts derive from undergarments used in the 19th century. Originally, the one-piece union suit underwear was cut into separate top and bottom garments, with the top long enough to tuck under the waistband of the bottoms, and was worn by miners and stevedores in the late 19th with the aim of covering for hot environments.

In 1913, the U.S. Navy first issued crew-necked, short-sleeved, white cotton t-shirts as undergarments. These undershirts were worn under their uniforms. After that, t-shirts soon became popular as a bottom layer of clothing for workers in various industries, including agriculture for their easily fitted, easily cleaned, and inexpensive features. However, the term T-shirt just started drawing attention from the community in the 1920s. 

During the period of the Great Depression, the T-shirt was often the default garment to be worn when doing farm or ranch chores. And after World War II, it was widely worn by Navy men as undergarments and then by veterans as casual clothing, along with their uniform trousers. 

After Marlon Brando wore the t-shirt in the movie A Street Named Desire in the 1950s, T-shirts finally achieved status as fashionable, stand-alone, outerwear garments. They were widely worn by boys while doing chores and playing outside, eventually opening up the idea of wearing them as general-purpose casual clothing.

In particular, in the 1960s, printed T-shirts gained popularity for self-expression as well for advertisements, protests, and souvenirs. 

Nowadays, t-shirts are diverse in designs and fabrics, styles, and brands. If you are looking for edgy and daring t-shirts, Printerval is an attractive online shop where you can choose many exclusive and trendy items from. 

( Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-shirt#History)

T-shirt in the 1970s
T-shirt in the 1970s

Difference in Constructions

In terms of construction, there are many aspects that need making clear. Therefore, in this part, Printerval will focus on comparing the differences in shapes, types, and other details. This table tells you all:





T shape or not, depending on the length of sleeves and collar.

T shape always


Some types of shirts include:

Polo shirt, Dress shirt, Camp shirt, Dinner shirt, White shirt, Rugby shirt, Henley shirt, etc. 

A T-shirt is also a type of shirt.

Some types of t-shirts include:

Crew neck t-shirt, V-neck t-shirt, Baseball t-shirt, Turtle neck t-shirt, etc.

Other details

Shirts may contain buttons, collars, neckties, etc

T-shirts have no collar, mostly no buttons, and definitely no necktie.

The difference in Use occasions

When and where to use Shirts?

Shirts are formal wear and are mostly made up of woven fabric which is elegant and polite. People usually use shirts on many formal occasions such as business meetings, office environments, political atmosphere, etc. 

Shirts for couples
Shirts for couples

When and where to use T-shirts?

T-shirts are often made of jerseys, also known as knitted fabric, and used when people play sports or do physical workouts. Because T-shirts are comfortable and breathable that help wearers feel flexible and convenient to activate. T-shirts are also used on casual occasions such as hanging out, going to coffee shops, going camping, etc. 

T-shirts for couples
T-shirts for couples


Through this article, Printerval hopes that there will be nothing to hinder you from figuring out how different between two popular attire. It seems that they are the same but in fact, shirts and t-shirts have many differences. Also, we hope through this useful information, you can be smart while shopping for t-shirts or shirts. 

In addition, if you are looking for exclusive and trendy t-shirts, Printerval is the right place for you to choose from. Printerval is a reliable online shop that offers a variety of products including clothing, accessories, home & living at reasonable cost as well as unique designs. Printerval is committed to serving you the best satisfaction and bringing you much happiness in your shopping time. 

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Jet Jet

Printerval Blog is a blog page which shares with you a variety of knowledge about interesting fashion trends, lifestyles, and home & living decorations in order to help you shop easily with the best spending.