Said to be the shirt of a real man. Wear it proudly.
Originally part of the uniform of the Russian Navy, The dark color and white striped shirts were designed to be distinctive at a distance.
Over the years it has grown into a symbol of great pride for the wearer, possibly most popularly exemplified by the famed Soviet sniper Vassili Zaitsev. As a sailor in the Soviet Pacific Fleet who volunteered for army duty in the Battle of Stalingrad, he and his former Navy comrades refused to give up wearing their Navy telnyashka because of the pride it engendered.
Since then, versions have been adopted by the Marines [black], Airbourne, the Spetsnaz [light blue] and Border Guards [green] but their reasons for donning the striped shirt remained the same.
As the saying of the "real men" goes: "Нас мало, но мы в тельняшках!" (Nas malo, no my v telnyashkakh)
We are few in number, but we wear telnyashkas!