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#12: 1981

November 25, 2008

1981 was a good year for tee shirts. There are a few things one should know about the perfect vintage tee shirt, or at least my perfect vintage tee shirt:
1. It’s older than I am
2. It’s full of holes that in no way compromise structure, fit, integrity
3. It’s 2-4 full shades lighter than it was originally
4. Its neckband is approximately 3/4″ and rides at the collar bone
5. It soft to the touch and has perfectly capped sleeves
6. It says something about me, subtle or otherwise.

In 1980 Bruce Springsteen released The River and toured through 1981 on it. Tee shirt, Hanes 100% cotton, size small. Imagine a time when concert tees actually came in small sizes and weren’t produced in ultra heavyweight cotton! When I hold this guy up to the light, I can see through it. The graphic is amazing. If my house were burning down, I would grab this shirt.
Back (I’m so embarrassed by how blurry this photo is!):
Graphic close-up:

I practically stole this shirt from the original owner, and paid $31 a few years back. I’ve received some impressive offers on it since. But so long as wearing my tee shirt brings me a little bit closer to this, I ain’t sellin:


Tee shirt, Hanes 100% cotton, size small. 1981 Tattoo You tour. This tee shirt has been reproduced a million times and is one of best known of all Stones tees. I have a few Stones tees from ’78-81 and this is by far the crown jewel mostly for reasons of color, fit and shape. However, never will I ever divulge to a single living creature how much I paid for it when I was 19 and foolish — but at least I’ve got the best tee shirt in the world to show for it, of my favorite band in the world.
Graphic close-up:

Boy, does this video get silly at the end.

We all have our special old tee shirts that, barring the unforeseen, we’ll never let go of, which means we must take very good care of them. Starting today, never put your vintage tee shirt into the washing machine again. Buy a gentle lingerie soap and when you absolutely must wash, do so in the sink. Soak for about 20 minutes. Squeeze water out very carefully so not to exacerbate any tears or holes, and lay flat to dry. Wear and repeat, forever.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2008 12:02 pm

    Nice vintage tees, the first one is definitely boss. And Good preservation advice. We’re all for vintage tee worship. Check us out:

  2. indiansummervintage permalink*
    November 27, 2008 12:44 pm

    Thanks for stopping by and poking around. And your site is great. I recognize so many of those items from my own eBay prowls.

    Wait until you see my Maiden tee circa Powerslave/84. An ‘expert’ once told be it was the best he’d ever seen. It’s baseball style and aside from front/back, also has Eddie graphics up and down the arms. I practically stole that one as well from a shop who had no idea what kind of a gem they were stocking.

  3. defunkd permalink
    November 27, 2008 10:43 pm

    Lemme see, lemme see! Are you putting it up for sale on eBay? If you do please let me know, and I will blog about it, send some traffic your way!


  4. indiansummervintage permalink*
    November 28, 2008 8:37 am

    Oh I don’t think it will ever go on eBay! Not for a long while anyway. I think it’s safe to say that this one will remain in the archives. And it’s small!! Like, mens XS. UNBELIEVABLE! I’ll send you some pictures when I get back to Brooklyn next week. Thanks Jimmy!!

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