A (very) Brief History of the Striped T Shirt

Our Breakout series has been a best seller ever since we introduced it into the range in 2021. It's easy to see why, you can never go wrong with a striped t shirt, they fit seamlessly into any rotation, and can be worn with ease. However, the humble striped t shirt didn't always have such everyday appeal...

Allow us to take you back to the Middle Ages, where a striped t shirt would have landed you in some hot water with the Pope, no less, as they were believed to be a sure-fire sign of the Devil (that's pretty rock'n'roll if you ask us).

Throughout the Middle Ages, striped garments became the uniform of the less fortunate, frequented by prostitutes, hangmen, lepers, court jesters, disloyal Round Table knights, heretics, adulterous wives, madmen and convicts...to name but a few! 

If the gutter is where decent striped tee's can be found, then you know where to find us.

Fast-forward to the 1920s and stripes entered a new facet of society. Introduced heavily into Women's activewear collections and favoured by famous faces of the day, including Al Capone and the Zoot Suit movement - striped garments had well and truly entered their spotlight era.

As we progress to the 1940s, the striped t shirt became much more of a statement of style, thanks to the French Navy (...of course). No longer shackled by those considered to be the underbelly of society, the French pioneered striped tee's in the form of the marinière. Consisting of 21 stripes (one for each of Napoleons victories), these t shirts were first issued to French Navy seamen. As with most military clothing, this style seeped into everyday wear and truly introduced the striped t shirt into wardrobes across Europe as we know them today - and what happens when Europe champions a certain style? America wants a piece...

Breakout -Dropout II Edition - Slackjaw Apparel

Enter the 1970s to 1980s and striped t shirts encountered a full circle moment, and were once again adopted by those on the fringes of the establishment. Punks, hippies, rockers and bikers! Worn as a badge to represent their feelings towards the status-quo, stripes had been appropriated once again by those who had first been forced to wear them as a label. 

Post 1980s, the rest is history. Stripes were seen across mainstream runways thanks to designers including Jean Paul Gaultier who still to this day offers a heavy array of striped goods. The trickle down effect meant they were now common place in highstreet retailers such as The Gap.

You could raid your Uncle's, Mum's, Dad's wardrobe and find a well worn piece to make your own right now - or, you could invest in a Slackjaw Breakout T Shirt and watch it age (beautifully, we might add). In premium 270gsm 100% cotton, available in long sleeve and short sleeve options, as well as graphic t shirt styles, the Breakout series encapsulates striped t shirt style, and adapts it into many forms.

The hard part? Finding your favourite.

Explore the Slackjaw Breakout striped t shirt series online now!

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