The t-shirt was originally a functional item which evolved from underwear in the 19th century and was later worn under a shirt. Marlon Brando wore a t-shirt in A Streetcar Named Desire. It was a rebelious, vulgar and sensual thing to do. In 1951 wearing a t-shirt would have been like walking around in your underwear. Lucinda Ballard, the costume designer, made the t-shirt especially for Brando, as fitted t-shirts did not exist at the time. Lucinda Ballard was nominated for an Oscar for Best B/W Costume Design.
In 1955 James Dean wore a white t-shirt in Rebel Without A Cause – t-shirt sales soared and the t-shirt became a rebellious fashion item.