In 1913, the U.S. Navy issued recruits a new piece of clothing — a crewneck T-shirt. Designed to be worn under uniforms, it quickly caught on as an essential — and sexy — piece of clothing.
A century later, T-shirts have become a closet staple as well as a fashion statement. Sometimes they even get political.
They’ve also become imbedded in pop culture. Famous wearers include James Dean, Marlon Brando and Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory.”
In honor of its 100th anniversary, we selected seven of our favorite T-shirts with Utah themes and connections.
1. Heavy Metal Shop • It’s not just local headbangers who wear this T-shirt with half of a menacing skull on the front. These shirts have been seen all over the world.
2. Vote for Pedro • This plain white tee, with blue trim and red lettering, was an unforgettable fashion symbol — along with star Jon Heder’s brown polyester suit — in the 2004 film “Napoleon Dynamite.” The comedy, shot in nearby Preston, Idaho, was co-written and directed by Salt Lake City residents and Brigham Young University alumni Jared and Jerusha Hess,
3. Polygamy Porter • Wasatch Brew Pub’s popular ale not only tastes good, but pokes fun at Utah’s polygamist past by asking, “Why have just one?”
4. SL,UT • Salt Lake City’s founding fathers likely never imagined that someone could simply abbreviate the capital city and state and make us think of promiscuous women.
5. Max Hall Hates Me • University of Utah fans didn’t suffer in silence in November 2009 when Brigham Young University quarterback Max Hall declared in a news conference: “I don’t like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, I hate their fans.” Within hours, Utes fans launched several Facebook pages as well as created all sorts of T-shirts.
6. Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for Tomorrow You May Be in Utah • When Utah’s quirky liquor laws just got too unbearable, someone decided to voice their displeasure by tweaking a phrase from the King James Bible: “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
7. Utah Centennial • In 1996, when Utah celebrated its 100th anniversary, all sorts of souvenirs, including T-shirts, could be found featuring the state’s majestic mountains.
Top 20 T-shirt designs
CustomInk, which makes custom T-shirts, put together a list of the 100 most iconic T-shirts. Here’s the top 20; see the entire list at www.tshirtbirthday.com
1 • I d NY
2 • Vote for Pedro
3 • College (variation of the sweatshirt worn by John Belushi in “Animal House”)
4 • Rolling Stones tongue logo
5 • Superman symbol
6 • Batman symbol
7 • Hard Rock Cafe London
8 • Tuxedo style
9 • D.A.R.E.
10 • Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon”
11 • Run-D.M.C.
12 • Che Guevara
13 • AC/DC
14 • Frankie Say Relax
15 • Nike’s Just Do It
16 • Bob Marley
17 • Ghostbusters
18 • My Parents Went to Las Vegas and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
19 • Tie-dye tee
20 • Grateful Dead