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T-shirts & Jeans On Women

 After looking at every single Sears catalog from 1896 to 1950 (currently!) I have found some very interesting things concerning t-shirts as outerwear for women. Just look:

The earlist examples of t-shirt type tops appeared in the Sears catalog in 1944. Though these are actully "polo shirts", they still resemble the modern day t-shirt and that can't be denied.

1944. The woman on the left wears a t-shirt with slacks!

1944. T-shirts worn with playsuits!

1945. You can't even tell me this isn't a woman-cut t-shirt! lol!

The t-shirt still going strong in 1947!

There was a trend in the 1940s of girls wearing their father's or brother's clothes. They would usually pair jeans with an oversided dress shirt and then a flannel coat over that -- setting the groundwork for the 90s "grunge" look! :) Check out these girls in jeans and various oversized men's clothing, all from 1944:

And finally.....

The first printed t-shirts appear in 1948!

So here is photographic evidence that women did indeed wear jeans and t-shirts in the so-called "Golden Era." Some even purposely looked sloppy while doing it! Others look like they could be plucked from the street today. I know that women *didn't* wear these clothes to school or for going out to nice places, but for play and hanging out with their friends these rebellious duds were perfectly acceptable. So much so that Sears catalogs even cashed in on the trend!


  1. Cute post! I guess the difference would be... tuck it in!

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Amy. Great pictures.

    I recently got me a marine blue/white stripey shirt pictured above, and I love to combine it with slacks.

    I think it's what Brenna says, the difference is the 'tucking in'.

  3. I really enjoyed this post! I know of people to say "Oh they always dressed to the nines all the time" and I always knew that wasn't entirely true. Thank you for confirming it. hahahaha

  4. "All the Cats Join In" (1944) has quite a few gals wearing shlubby oversized shirts and stuff. I love it!

  5. That film sounds amazing and I must find it now!!

    But yea -- one of my pet peeves is "oh, society now is SO BAD everyone was SO PERFECT back then." LOL. I've got photographs and family horror stories to prove otherwise. ;)

  6. Great post! I've been browsing Sears Catalog excerpts lately and I was really surprised to see so much stuff that looked modern (even my pet peeve-hoodies!). It just goes to show you that people enjoyed comfy leisure clothes back in the day too. Really, all that's changed is how often people wear their leisure clothes.

  7. Whoops... it's actually from '46!

  8. Thanks for sharing all the pictures! They're great. I'm definitely not against t-shirts and jeans, but my primary problem with the style today is that no one's clothes ever fit them properly (generally tending towards two sizes too small for women).

  9. I can understand all the skinny jeans hate because of the girls who are in denile about their size. I own two pairs of skinny jeans and I actually know and buy the correct size for my ass -- size 12. Therefore I have no muffin top. It's possible!! lol ;)

  10. Thank you for sharing this! It's given me a few casual outfit ideas :-)

  11. Now you can all wear jeans and t-shirts to 40s events! ;) Print these pictures off so when the "Sunday Best" crowd gives you the stink eye you can show them that you are indeed 40s-accurate! lol.

  12. These pictures are great =D Thanks for sharing. It's one of my favourite looks, though I don't really do it myself, that often! (Mainly because my jeans are a bit, erm, snug right now and I can't afford another pair).
    -Andi x

  13. This is absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for this post. I'm definitely bookmarking this page and saving some of these photos for my style files. I just wish I could find this style of jeans for a decent price.

  14. Desiree -- GOODWILL!! Men's section! :) That's where we used to get ours in the grunge 90s.

  15. Oh man, I have no idea how I missed this post. LOVE IT. I will go on record saying these are some of my favorite 40s looks, hands down. Lots of people expect vintage just to be about the more feminine clothes but these are just as fantastic looks in my book. And in some respects equally, if not more, feminine as I'm sure it took some fashion cojones to pull it off back in the day.

    In honor of this post I pulled on a striped Old Navy tee with my high-waisted jeans. Ha!

  16. Thanks again for sharing this. I linked to your post and borrowed done of the photos in one of my own posts, which went up today. Take a look, and let me know if you want me to take the photo down

  17. I had no interesting! Thanks for the lesson in T shirts! I've been curious about how they were worn in the past :) ..I'd never think to wear one with a play suit but lo and behold!

  18. Hi, this blog is really amazing and provide me answers to all my questions. This is really informative and I will for sure refer my friends the same. The blog is really interesting.Thanks for it.


  19. For ages I've been trying to force myself into "smartening up" vintage style and not throw on the jeans everyday... My sneaky idea of compromise was 1940s shape pants in denim, you just gave me the golden ticket!

    Another thing I notice aside from the tucking in, is the choice of loafers (vs modern day trainers). I've long since switched to wearing brogues with my jeans instead of trainers (and canvas shoes in the summer). Somehow seems just that little bit smarter in itself!

  20. Such a great story, thanks for sharing!! I just finished another retro style tee in my shop, targeted to pair with jeans and shorts. We need more authentic looking everyday stuff that's casual yet flattering. Love the pics!!

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  24. Thanks for sharing this, Amy. Great pictures.I recently got me a marine blue/white stripey shirt pictured above, and I love to combine it with slacks.I think it's what Brenna says, the difference is the 'tucking......

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