It seems that graphic tees are getting more popular every day. There aren’t just band shirts and product logos to choose from anymore. From the runway to everyday, we’re seeing art from contemporary artists, messages that speak to causes, and fun designs and slogans to make you laugh.
In its early days, the graphic tee was a little bit kiddish, but these days it is an adult fashion statement that can be worn to a night out, on a date, or at a casual workplace.
Like so many trends, it could be said that the graphic tee started as military fashion. In World War II, soldiers were given tee-shirts that had their branches on them to make organization easier.
When soldiers came home from war, they kept wearing their t-shirts with their branches on them. These shirts became a fashion statement as well as a declaration of military service. With the graphic tee becoming cool, it should be no surprise that the transition would be fully made into civilian life.
It is the 1950s that truly brought the graphic tee into everyday popularity. New inks were invented for screen printing, so designers were able to create more complex graphics more easily. As the marketing potential became clear, companies began printing recognizable cartoon characters, slogans, etc.
As the 50s moved into the 60s and 70s, music culture took over the evolution of the graphic tee. Fans realized that graphic tees were an excellent way to market themselves and bring income at shows. Fans love wearing t-shirts from their favorite bands.
Thus, the band t-shirt was born. These t-shirts are still popular today, and feature images from the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd. Such graphics remain some of the most iconic and common on graphic t-shirts.
Bands of all sizes continue to produce graphic tees. Many graphic tees are still made by small bands and worn by fans. However, as the 90s took hold, it became much more common to see brands like Nike and Coca-Cola on graphic t-shirts.
In the early 2000s poorly-made, mass-produced graphic tees and rejection of wearing branded clothing caused graphic tees to have something of a falling out of fashion. However, as the 2000s progressed, graphic tees featuring beautiful contemporary art again rose into popularity. Band icons, social right leaders, and cause-related slogans all became popular.
Perhaps most in-demand are graphic t-shirts with simple color palettes, bold lines, and cool designs that look great when paired with jeans or when worn under a jacket or button up with dress pants.
These graphic tees allow you to express your personality and taste in art. In many ways you can create an artwork of your entire wardrobe by pulling the colors from the design out into accessories and layers.
If you’re looking to get into the graphic tee but don’t want to accidentally end up looking like a throwback to the early 90s, there are a few simple rules to follow:
- Stick with solid backgrounds. Avoid tie-dye, patterns, and graphics that reach all over the shirt. Stick with a solid background with a clear graphic on the front.
- Bold lines. Clear, bold lines will make it obvious what your shirt is and keep it from looking like an unrecognizable mass of color.
- Pick a simple color palette. A simple color palette using only three or four primary colors, along with black, white, and shades of gray tends to look cleaner on and make it easier for you to match and accessorize.
Ever since graphic tees became possible, they have remained popular. While there has been some up and down through the years, graphic tees remain a classic, cool choice for various occasions.