On My Bookshelf: The Era of Disposable Shirts

"In 1872 America produced 150 million disposable shirt collars and cuffs. Men found paper clothing parts convenient because laundry services in those days were unreliable and expensive, and available mainly in large urban centers. America was still predominantly a rural culture, and before the advent of modern washing machines in the twentieth century, laundry was an onerous, labor-intensive task undertaken by women once weekly on Blue Tuesday. Single men simply lacked access to professional or spousal laundry services. They bought replacement shirt parts in bulk and changed into them whenever the most visible parts of their attire became stained or discolored. Disposing of a soiled cuff, collar, or bosom was as easy as dropping it into the nearest fireplace or pot-bellied stove." ~ from Made To Break by Giles Slade

Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

Just In