At Original & Unrestored we live and breathe t-shirts. We created this brand because we care about what we wear, how it's made, and we obsess about quality. We've asked some of our friends to tell us what t-shirts are important to them. In the first of our blogs, writer, comedian and actor, Adrian Mackinder tells us about his favourite t-shirt and why it matters.
It’s the most valuable item of clothing I own. Not the tailor-made suit I treated myself to when I was feeling flush. Not the fancy, handmade two-tone brogues I only wheel out for weddings. Not even the ridiculously expensive watch I was given but am too terrified to wear in public for fear of theft, loss or breakage. No. I’m talking about the mighty t-shirt.
It’s such a versatile garment. It’s what you throw on bleary-eyed with tracksuit trousers or shorts when you pop down for milk first thing. It’s the official uniform of a man strolling down the aisles of B&Q on a Saturday afternoon. It’s how to offset a blazer to convey smart and stylish but retain your personality. Careful though. You roll those jacket sleeves up and you’re spiraling into Miami Vice territory. Unless that’s your thing. If so, grab those white slip-on loafers and hit the beach. There are so many ways a t-shirt can help you express yourself.
But here’s the thing. A t-shirt is so much more than an essential weapon in your arsenal. For me, the t-shirt is not just clothing. It’s a personal statement. A suit of armour. A shield. It’s how I want to be seen. We all have t-shirts that we love. That we refuse to throw out. Sweaters, trousers and shirts come and go, but a band shirt with tour dates stays. It tells a story. Here’s mine.
I’m a proud metal head. Back in 1992, I saw my favourite band, Metallica, for the very first time, live at Wembley Arena. I bought a tour t-shirt. My first band shirt. 26 years later, I still have it. Sadly, I don’t have the same physique as I did a teenager. But back then, it hung off me like a poncho. Now it fits just fine, it’s gloriously faded and I still wear it. Not ironically. I’m proud of my past. My beer-soaked, eardrum perforated allegiance to the devil horns. It’s who I am.
But that’s just me. Perhaps your favourite shirt is your team’s home strip from a season that mattered. Maybe it’s a subtle film or TV reference to be decoded only by fellow geeks. You might even have a badly-printed memento from a monstrous stag do in Amsterdam. You’ll never wear it, but you’ll always want it. It’s a memory crudely emblazoned on fabric to keep safe, out of sight but always in mind.
As I’ve got older I more appreciate well-made t-shirts. The quality of the cotton, the tailoring of the fit. How the neckline feels. Is it too boxy? Too long? Too short? I know when a t-shirt doesn’t feel right or when it’s perfect. There’s nothing like finding a shirt that’s not only well-made, but which also says something about your past, your present, your views, values, sense of humour or to which tribe you belong.
Life is about building experiences. Some make us stronger, others hack great chunks out of us. More than any other type of clothing, a t-shirt can reflect how life has defined us. We wear our scars proudly on our chest. So next time you dig out your most trusted t-shirt, take a moment to think about where it’s been, why you bought it and what it says about you. I guarantee you’ll smile. Funnily enough, next month I’m seeing Metallica for the umpteenth time. I know I’ll break out the ’92 shirt. I was there. And I’m still here..
Writer, comedian and actor Adrian Mackinder has written for The Guardian, BBC, Comedy Central and Marvel Comics to name but a few. He lives in Copenhagen with his wife and son and now spends his time wrestling with fatherhood, the unexpected culture clash and being an Englishman abroad. See what he's up to in print, online and on stage at www.adrianmackinder.com.