Saturday, September 30, 2017

Second Skin

I wrote recently about my Doris shorts, and how I clumsily repaired them rather than face the fact that they need to be thrown away. Well, they're not the only article of clothing in my wardrobe that is approaching the end of its days.

Here are a few more examples of things I can't bring myself to throw out -- and in fact still wear with great regularity -- even though they're looking pretty ragged and/or stretched out and/or terrible.

First, my beloved United Nations sweatshirt. Everyone who knows me has seen me in this shirt. I wear it all the time, despite the fact that it's 22 years old. (If it were a person, it would be graduating from college!) I got it on my first visit to New York City in 1995, with my friend Sue. I'd always been an admirer of the UN and when we toured the headquarters I picked this up in the gift shop.

These days it's quite thin and utterly shapeless. But so comfy!

This is the front of a t-shirt I bought when I visited the Watts Towers in Los Angeles in 2006. It's a great shirt but it's developed some holes. Great for sleeping, though!

This is another shirt I wear all the time -- a rainbow parade of Volkswagens. I bought it at a charity shop in West Hollywood about ten years ago. I think it was produced for a gay pride parade or event. It has definitely seen better days.

This poor shirt is so old and stretched out that the logo isn't even straight! I went to Tanglewood -- an outdoor music center and the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra -- in 2001, right before 9/11. By this time I lived in New York, and I drove up with some friends to spend the weekend. One evening we spread a blanket on the lawn near the amphitheater and took in an orchestral performance, sipping wine and eating cheese. My memory of that time is forever tinged with the disaster that came just a few weeks later. It seems like a sunny golden period before the horrors of the world rushed in upon us.

Finally, another stretched-out, faded t-shirt. I went to Botswana in 2006 with my friend Liz and her pal Jessica. We did a camping tour of the country and saw lots of incredible wildlife, and at the end of the tour we arranged for souvenir t-shirts to be made by a local vendor in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. I helped coordinate the t-shirt design and order, and it was a nightmare, with everyone's different design ideas and specifications for colors and styles and sizes. And then the vendor did a somewhat haphazard job of filling the order, and some people got shirts that did not make them happy. Mine, fortunately, came out fine.

I don't plan to get rid of any of these items right away. What's wrong with a few holes, after all? But I have to face the fact that, like my Seven Mile Grill shirt (which I also still have, by the way), they're going to self-destruct sooner rather than later!


  1. Like you I have several T-shirts from long ago. They have become like friends. However, my son aged 33 "borrowed" a couple of my favourite American T-shirts from the mid-seventies and they never came home.

  2. A souvenir you wear is so much better than some useless object on a shelf. I say wear them till they disintegrate!
    How fun that one of yours is from Tanglewood, which is in my corner of the country. A magical place.

  3. Let's just face it- there is nothing in this world as soft and comfy as an old t-shirt. It becomes more than a garment. It becomes a beloved second skin into which we can slip when life is just too full of everything which is not comfortable or beloved. I say yes! Wear them until they fall off your body!

  4. just about all my t-shirts are old and holey. I wear them anyway. eventually they become shop shirts or yard shirts and I still wear them. I have a new one I got in Hawaii and have yet to wear it once.

  5. I loved LOVED the story of your 7 Mile Grill T-shirt. I have been on that hi way several times and I've never spotted that place, and now, unfortunately, we fly into Key West so my chances of visiting this hallowed diner are very low. But I want a 7 Mile Grill T-shirt. I'm going to check to see if they do mail order.

    I remember that issue of National Geographic! And since then I too have been fascinated by U.S. Route 1. I've lived near it in Westchester NY and I've been off and on it from Portland, Maine thru Richmond, Va, and of course I've seen where it begins in Key West. About 25 years ago I even painted a map of it.

    T-shirts don't fit me so I when I find one that I like I have to have the neckline changed and cut off the bottom hem to add to the sleeves to make them longer, which also have to be taken in because T-shirt sleeves are usually too flappy for me. It doubles the cost of the thing, but it's the only way I'll wear my vintage Who and Bruce Springsteen Ts. Don't hate me.

  6. I think my dressers and closets would be empty if it weren't for raggedy old clothes and hand-me-downs (from my twin brother's wife). I like a good tee-shirt with history. Yours are wonderful!

  7. I love these. Surely everyone has at least one old shirt or other piece of clothing they can't seem to part with. Like you, I have several. In fact, I was wearing one that needs some mending just last night when I was watching TV.

  8. I have a whole closet full of old t-shirts, including the one I'm wearing right now: from the Spirit Room in Jerome, Arizona. It has a musical trio on the front only they are all skeletons! The back says: Where Suffering Is Optional.

  9. And when the condition of your T-shirts finally raises your own eyebrows and you reluctantly have to throw them out (or bury them with full honours in your back garden), you'll have these great photos to remember them by! I wear certain pieces of my clothing into the ground but it has more to do with the fit and how they make me feel than what pictures are on them. Same idea, though :)

  10. One beloved tee shirt is now literally a tattered rag and still I wash and care for it. So I understand.

  11. Well'there's something to be said for wearing clothes out and not just throwing them away we waste too much in this age..j

  12. Like the above comments I have a number of t-shirts most of which are on their last legs. When I take one off the shelf I usually think I can get just one more wear out of it.
    Each of these ragged,faded shirts has a history and one goes back 25 years...
    Who says I can't let things go?


  13. Well, I'm glad to hear we all have well-worn old favorites in our closets. (I'm envious of YP having stuff going all the way back to the '70s, even if his son did pinch it!)

  14. I love old, worn-out T-shirts. I don't have many.