April 15, 2023 12:00 am ET
Articles to Listen to
Chloe Chapin is writing a dissertation at Harvard on fashion history. She said it's nearly impossible to pinpoint the outfit's origin. Ms. Chapin noted that coal miners in the late 19th century wore early versions of denim jeans, which were the precursors to jeans. White T-shirts gained popularity when sailors began receiving them from U.S. Navy around 1913. Chapin said that one thing is certain: the look started as workwear. "Bluejeans are very cheap and accessible for everyone. They were worn by dockworkers, mechanics and other workers."
This style has been popular over the years, but has always had a bad boy vibe. In the 1950s you can see James Dean and Marlon brando smoldering or the cocky T-Birds from 1978's "Grease." In the 1980s, Ms. Chapin said, teens adopted the look because it was "cool, cheap, and a little F-you" to the status quo.
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