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!):
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.
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.