tshirt-art-chamonix-ski

During steamy New York City summer nights, I sleep in the nude, cooled by a sweeping fan. This is good for both my electric bill (I never use an air conditioner at night) and for my nightclothes budget, which pretty much hovers in the zero zone.

When fall arrives with crisper breezes and sleeping turns into a more refreshing proposition, I usually slip into an oversize cotton tee shirt. I exchange these short sleeve tees for long sleeve ones when winter storms start rattling my windows. For roomy comfort, I always buy the extra large size tees plucked from the men’s department in thrift shops. They’re dirt cheap and not only save me a bundle, but they’re also pleasanter against the skin then many of today’s synthetic nightgowns. The biggest prizes are fresh new tees or those barely used. I’m forever amazed by the terminally tattered tee shirts donated to thrifts by men under the delusion there is still life in those stretched to hell dead fibers.

An advantage New York City thrifts have over those located outside major metropolitan centers is the international variety of their tee shirt donations. New residents constantly arrive here from all over the globe bringing with them tees that can happily end up in thrifts where I eagerly await their stylish logos.

Occasionally these can present translation problems, such as a smaller size tee shirt from the city of Nice on the Cote d’azure in France. On this black tee, “Nice” is written in large white letters over the approximate center of my chest. Behind it, the accompanying “Cote d’azure” is written in small, faint, almost illegible white letters. Those with poor eyesight might miss the “Cote d-azure” entirely. Add these people to those who don’t speak french or recognize that city as a place located in France, and you have a group of people who might look at my chest and assume “Nice” is my rather narcissistic description of my own breasts. While I could examine the facial expressions of those checking out my chest as they walk toward me to determine how they are actually processing that lettering, I honestly prefer not to. Consequently I find myself wearing that tee less and less…

Another white design on a smaller size black cotton tee has also brought me unexpected attention. It sported a bold white graphic drawing that I interpreted as an Aztec head. As a young man approached me on the street the first time I wore it, I didn’t notice him studying it till he called out, “Nice shirt!” in an odd, appreciative tone. Then in quick succession, two African American women exclaimed, “Beautiful tee shirt!” and, “Great drawing!” It took me a bit, but I finally got it. What I saw as a powerful Aztec head, they were seeing as a strong African American head. Their appreciative remarks approximated high fives…

While I do have some smaller size tees for athletic walks around the reservoir, the majority of my collection is in the super duper size for sleeping. Unfortunately impacted by the recession, the selection of these tees has been mighty slim in thrifts this past year. So slim in fact I was actually considering going to a retail store and paying full price for a spanking new tee shirt. A Pretty radical step. I’ll give the thrift store tee shirt market a few more months to pull itself together before doing anything so rash…

For some great thrift store finds, see Wimpole Hall to Goodwill NYC and Scouting the Thrifts for Gems.