Forgive the fashion magazine-y play on words. I couldn't resist. I'm genuinely excited about styling tee shirts and finding the perfect screenprint is something to celebrate. And unlike, say, certain statement bags or statement shoes, a statement tee shirt is relatively affordable.
The very first Vintage Adoption Agency collection was about my love of random souvenir tees from places I'd never been and the sometimes ironic disconnect when statements made by t-shirts have no significance or meaning for their wearer.
I had written, 'when you wear a screenprinted shirt, you're literally wearing that image (or text or logo) across your chest and your heart...in a sense, every shirt you wear could (should?) be interpreted as something you 'heart' or love.'' And I also shared an experience where I got called out for not being terribly familiar with the athlete referenced on my vintage tee:
My most memorable t-shirt-instigated interrogation happened when I was wearing a shirt featuring a NFL player as a kitchen appliance (refrigerator) while pumping gas. I heard a guy's voice bellow from the adjacent gas pump: "Whoa, whoa! That shirt is OLD SCHOOL! Whatchu know 'bout that, honey?" (Answer: Nothing.) Apparently, William 'the Fridge' Perry was quite the football star. He even has this jam dedicated to him and his own brand of barbecue sauce.
I still wear that shirt, just not as often during football season... It's not unlike how everyone had (or wanted) a Starter jacket just because they were colorful and made of that shiny windbreaker material. (Loved those purple and teal Charlotte Hornets. Basketball, yes? Who cares.) Similarly, I appreciate these sporty tops only for their artwork:
|Gooo teams! Go check them out in the etsy shop!|
The vintage Miami Hurricanes sweatshirt is insanely soft and I love the fading on the felt print. The Lakers tee was made with that signature eighties puffy paint on the yellow and the Honolulu Marathon Clinic jersey made me think of the awesome Étoile Isabel Marant Rosa tank... Fashionable wearers can style these tops to look cozy and cool (check out these tips, too) and it'll probably (reasonably?) be assumed that they're fans of the team (or clinic) they're representing.
Naturally, I loved how the Man Repeller much more eloquently reflected on this graphic tee conundrum (plight? dilemma? hyperbole?) and compared fashion to temporary tattoos: 'A graphic t-shirt that includes words or a clear sentiment should probably crystallize the makeshift, fleeting tattoo which is why I’ve been wondering how often people actually believe in the graphics they’re wearing.' THIS! And then, 'While it seems important to remain true to your tattoo and the story you’re using your clothing to tell, what happens when irony gets lost on your audience?' THAT, TOO! Excellent question. Now readers, reflect on the meaning of dress in the context of what our t-shirts communicate. Plan your response and then write an essay... Homework: just in time for the back-to-school season.
Choosing a t-shirt is potentially complicated and fraught with all kinds of social implications. But probably not. My criteria still comes down to favorite colors, good designs, and the perfect drape-y fit and feel. And thank goodness t-shirts are temporary! Similar to how I credited PacSun for helping me look like a landlocked surfer girl in middle school, Hot Topic is responsible for helping me pay homage to every eighties and early nineties cartoon show I only vaguely remembered with dozens of colorful ringer tees (and their coordinating shoelaces, wallets, sweatbands, and patches) in high school:
Just as I've realized I can go on a vacation without buying a t-shirt as a souvenir, I've also realized I can be nostalgic about the animated shows from my childhood without owning their commemorative tees.
That's what I tell myself. (This was tempting.) In reality, I don't think I've evolved that much; I've just gotten more selective and prefer subtler references in my graphic tees. These days I'm less likely to reveal my allegiances with a particular tv show, or band, or logo. It's less of a statement and more of...a whisper. A nod that only speaks to super-fans. Except, when it's not.
I finally saw Rocky. Better late than never but a bit surprising if you consider that I've had the theme song "Gonna Fly Now" in constant rotation for years and wasn't familiar with any of the (six? seven?) Rocky movies. I was mostly in it for the famous training montages set to the theme song. (Also, conveniently, compiled in a YouTube video.)
Now, full disclosure: boxing and boxing movies* are not my jam. But I love cheering for the underdog and found myself rooting for Rocky and was genuinely surprised—shocked, I tell you, shocked!—that he didn't win the fight. No spoiler alert there because everyone else has seen it, right? Rocky not winning the fight (yeah, yeah, yeah, so he got the girl) would be like E.T. not getting away from the cops. (Not sure how well that comparison works, but I was expecting a Cinderella Man-like victory...but it was also much less traumatic than how Million Dollar Baby ended.)
So I had to watch Rocky II. And in this second installment I noticed Rocky wearing a lovely 'Win Rocky Win' muscle tee while training and naturally, logically, I found a similar design for cheap on eBay:
|Winning. With style. Loving how the vintage brocade blazer contrasts with the red font and the touch of black leather channels Rocky a little more with a bomber from Madewell.|
While searching the interwebs for a movie still of Rocky wearing said tee, I discovered that it was actually gifted to him in the first movie by his girlfriend...but the scene got cut! Same design except it was light blue with red lettering and in the second film, he's wearing a light gray version sans sleeves.
I preferred to get mine in a charcoal gray and I love how this tee looks layered underneath different jackets! I feel ready to pass my next t-shirt-instigated interrogation! Once my bit of accidentally-discovered scene trivia is shared and the rest of my Rocky-related movie knowledge exhausted, I can confidently throw some air punches and hum "Gonna Fly Now" as I jog away from the conversation, victorious.
*A few days ago I was trying to think of some movies about horses that aren't super dramatic and/or full of clichés. It's damn near impossible. Movies about boxing are the same way!