Looking through my wardrobe …

by John Q on November 29, 2008

… I have a lot of T-shirts, almost none of them bought in clothes shops. They celebrate or advertise defunct sporting teams, (mostly) unsuccessful political campaigns, obsolete versions of operating systems and long-gone folk music festivals. What’s in your wardrobe?



Beau 11.29.08 at 3:19 am

Nothing with writing or company logos on it, except for the labels and washing instructions.

Some times I think it’s about self-respect and human dignity. Other times I realize it’s probably just that you never had a chance to learn better.


Joel Turnipseed 11.29.08 at 6:16 am

Funny you should ask, as I have that same collection of T-shirts (switching folk festivals to punk bands and museum shows)–and have planned to clean them out by the Hefty bag. That, and get rid of my “middle-western, middle-aged dad” look: a look I’m not sure how I acquired (except by virtue of being a MWMAD and five years outside the corporate workforce while working on a sophomore book). You know the look: Columbia button-down shirt, Gap jeans, and ratty Nike or New Balance running shoes. Gah.

On a related note, a pal of mine and I had our bi-annual, “Should we really have 1000+ pop/rock albums in our iTunes?” discussion today, with the explicit motivation being the sneaking feeling that not only should we not drink so much now that we’re north of 40, but that we should have more than 32 jazz albums and the standard couple hundred of the classical repertoire.

But I don’t know if this feeling has life anymore: I mean, while George Trow could lament the disappearance of the Fedora–my generation is left only to lament the day when you could lament the disappearance of the Fedora (or, and better: mock the lamentation of the day when you could lament hte disappearance of the Fedora).

Of course, this entire comment is just one long excuse for linking to an article about Scott Seekins (with whom one of my good pals has actually fly-fished while Seekins was outfitted in a white tux).


Katherine 11.29.08 at 8:56 am

Pre-baby clothes that I don’t fit it into. I keep kidding myself that I’ll wear them eventually, but I fear not.


notsneaky 11.29.08 at 10:10 am

A bunch of T-shirts with no writing whatsoever on them. In fact I don’t think I own a single piece of clothing that, aside from the customary washing instructions tag etc., that advertises anything for anybody, lost cause or not, nor could ever be filed in any kind of a library. In the past friends and acquittances have made me gifts of such items and on all those occasions I’ve inadvertently but successfully conveyed that I don’t care for billboard clothes through unconscious frowns and nose scratching (or so the gift givers have told me) so that they never tried it again.

At one point in my life I did have a bunch of t-shirts of bands that hardly anyone ever listens to, but that were nice enough to play in my living room, but that was mostly out of charity (those kids needed gas money). And I’ve managed to loose or give away most of those over the years (you’d be surprised how much fans of bands that hardly anyone ever listens to covet the t-shirts of the said bands).

Actually I do own a single faded t-shirt of a college football team that’s doing very horribly this year but that has a unique chance of redeeming their god awful season tomorrow. That’s about it.

My wife’s closet is probably a lot more interesting.


Reinder Dijkhuis 11.29.08 at 10:15 am

I am slowly moving away from t-shirts and jeans to more formal attire – not so much because I feel like “at my age, I should” but because I like it and my girlfriend likes it. I think all the band shirts are gone except a Fairport Convention sweatshirt (bought in 1990) which I use for running from time to time.
I still have plenty of webcomics-related shirts but they don’t get the love they got as late as a few years ago. I’m not throwing them out until they’re too ratty to wear and too permanently smelly to use as cleaning rags though.
As for Joel Turnipseed’s conversation with his pal: why worry about that at all? Let the natural progression of your taste guide you. The only thing you should watch out for after the age of X is maintaining a taste for new things (things that are new to you) rather than getting stuck with only what you liked 20 years ago.


Michael H. 11.29.08 at 12:00 pm

Most of the band t-shirts have been retired to the cleaning rag bag, what few remain are worn only when I want to embarrass the children. I have acquired too many (that being more than zero) bbq cook-off t-shirts that, while seldom worn, bring fond memories as I shove them aside in the drawer. Nowadays I wear the LLBean flannel shirts my m-in-law gives me at Xmas, although I have noticed the last several years she seems to be shifting to fleece pullovers so I suppose I am unconsciously but steadily moving in that direction. There is of course my corporate wear but I classify that as uniform rather than clothing. I need a look.


Kieran 11.29.08 at 1:15 pm

What’s in your wardrobe?

Good lord! Who the hell are you?!


harry b 11.29.08 at 2:30 pm

Never had a band T-shirt. Some anti-apartheid T-shirts remain, for running in. My favourites; two, very old, highly colourful, T-shirts with Magic Roundabout characters on them. I wear them sparingly because they do not have much wear left in them (nearly 20 years old) and wish that I had bought the other 2 at the time. Also 2 Wallace and Gromitt T shirts. Would love to have a T-shirt with Tony Hancock glumly staring out, or Morecambe and Wise cheerfully grinning, but doubt any such things exist…


dsquared 11.29.08 at 2:35 pm

Tony Hancock might be a bit of a stretch but Eric & Ernie no probs.


dsquared 11.29.08 at 2:36 pm

Actually, no, the internet has quite literally everything on it these days.


Maria 11.29.08 at 2:53 pm

I’ve gotten a t-shirt from almost every ICANN meeting in the past 4-5 years. And a fair few 5k and 10k ones, too.

Thanks to the overbearing forces of patriarchy, they’re all either Large or Extra Large. Too big t0 run in, to small for a decent nightie. Just about right for donating to homeless men, which is just as well, really.


harry b 11.29.08 at 3:18 pm

Oh, fantastic. Kenneth Williams too. Dad’s Army for the daughters! Thanks, I’m now 40 quid poorer.


Matt McIrvin 11.29.08 at 3:23 pm

Dead software companies.


Bill Gardner 11.29.08 at 4:03 pm

My all time favorite was a yellow t-shirt with “Annapurna” in big type, a picture of said mountain, and the slogan “A Woman’s Place is On Top”. I bought it from Arlene Blum herself. I was shopping for nuts and cams in a Salt Lake climbing shop and struck up a conversation with the person next to me. She was raising funds for the climb, and she sold it to me right out of her bag.


Joel Turnipseed 11.29.08 at 4:13 pm

Reinder–No worry: my anxiety lasted well into the fourth minute of the conversation (and then switched to trying to determine which was going to happen first: the terabit home Internet connection or the petabyte wireless NAS for SOHO).

Meantime, we could pitch a show: “Gimlet Eye for the Smart Guy.” Because, you know: who wouldn’t love to spend an hour watching Kieran and Henry’s closets exhumed by Fonzworth Bentley and Carson Kressley, with catty cross-chat about Bourdieu, Veblen, and the permanent fashion forwardness of artful dishevelment. I mean… that show would be a hit, right?


Annie 11.29.08 at 4:55 pm

I’ve never been fond of t-shirts: the necklines are too confining. But I do still have a t-shirt from the Univ of Minneapolis. I was there for a conference one year and they refused to let me work out in the gym without a shirt with sleeves : I was wearing my usual tank top, but the rules of this gym were that everyone must be wearing a shirt with sleeves. So I was forced to buy a t-shirt to work out : ironically, the “large” women’s t-shirt they sold me (clearly a scam) was quite form fitting, and not very long, especially compared to my sleeveless, but blousy and longish, tank top. If the reasoning behind this rule was to prevent those working out from looking too “sexy” then why are their t-shirts so form fitting around the breasts and short enough to reveal a lower back tattoo (if I actually had one)?


Eszter Hargittai 11.29.08 at 5:09 pm

Like Maria, I have way too many T-shirts I’ve gotten for free that I’ve barely ever worn, because they’re made for men and look pretty ridiculous on most women’s bodies.

I also have a collection of T-shirt parts, that is, the front or back of shirts from college with various college groups or events on it. My long-term plan is to (have someone) make a quilt out of it. I think that would be fun, but I have yet to get around to working out the logistics of that.


Katherine 11.29.08 at 5:19 pm

I once got a T-shirt made for my husband for Valentine’s Day that said:

Roses are #FF0000
Violets are #0000FF
All my base
Are belong to you

I got many geek points, and I suspect it will be worn until the day he dies.


Bill Gardner 11.29.08 at 5:31 pm

“they refused to let me work out in the gym without a shirt with sleeves”

Yeah, what is it with athletic costume puritanism? I seem to recall a past CT rant session about tight fitting road cycling gear.


Glen 11.29.08 at 7:39 pm

My non-generic/n0n-cheapo T-shirts are from airports in the cities I’ve been through/gone to: Bermuda, Boston, Columbus, Denver, Houston, San Antonio, San Francisco…. (I will never own one from Atlanta.) Captive-market pricey, to be sure, but most have been pretty cool and usually well made. Some have lasted up to a decade.

The “free advertising/thanks for attending our conference” T-shirts I wear for sleeping. Human eyes are closed and the cat doesn’t care.


Anthony 11.29.08 at 7:51 pm

My wife and a friend came up with the idea of the “resume quilt” – making a quilt using the logo bits of all the t-shirts from previous employers, vendor partners, major customers, etc. The industry I work in isn’t so free about t-shirts, and prolebaseball caps are terrible for quilting.


dilbert dogbert 11.30.08 at 1:00 am

In 40 years of small boat sailing and racing I collected about a 6 foot by 1-1/2 foot stack of tees. This wonderful historic collection got trashed because we sold the house and cabin we are moving to does not have space for anything but my wife’s clothes. I did get to keep some of the tees from horse events and volunteer organizations. I get a duffle bag to live out of.
Moving out of house you have lived in for 35 years is and interesting experience in how much stuff Americans collect.


Alex 11.30.08 at 1:08 am

My favourite is my Balmain rugby league club shirt from 1994, not long before they got mergerised. Occasionally, people recognise it at London matches.

There’s also the Lo-Fidelity AllStarz one that’s ruined by banana sap stains.


dc 11.30.08 at 7:54 pm

Over the last year all my old punk t-shirts have migrated into my 14-year-old daughter’s wardrobe, where they seem to be enjoying a new lease of life.


Helen 12.01.08 at 2:49 am

Would love to have a T-shirt with Tony Hancock glumly staring out, or Morecambe and Wise cheerfully grinning, but doubt any such things exist…

Why ever not? You can get anything customised these days at these instant print places. Just find a picture with Google Images and get it scanned and t-shirted.


Doug K 12.01.08 at 10:06 pm

a large collection of running and triathlon t-shirts. I used to keep them all, then moved to an annual cull; now anything I don’t care for doesn’t even pause in my wardrobe, just keeps right on moving out to Goodwill. I’ve never actually bought a t-shirt.. suspect they’re breeding in there.

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