2.08.2018

An Unchronological Evolution in Graphic Tees

The piece of fashion that is aaaallll about stories.


Shirt by Lisa Says Gah (similar LSG one here). Bandana by Madewell.

We're entering that time of the year where it's really hard to get dressed in the morning. A few months ago, when winter just began, this was also true, but we used this cold to try all of our new favorite ways to beat the cold and also look really good doing it. The tried and true turtleneck can actually get exhausted to a point where I don't want anything touching my neck for at least three months, even though my instinct in the winter is to go straight for one of my three tissue turtlenecks and work from there. So instead, we just put whatever the hell we want on, hoping it looks decent, and if not, we always have our trusty winter coats and scarves to hide our looks from the outside world.

Depressing, no?

Maybe there's a way to dress however we want and make it fashion. And when I say "however we want," no rules apply—this means you can take athleisure to the next level, only wear tees for the rest of the month, or don the same pair of jeans everyday for two weeks, to the point where they're so exhaustingly stretched out that they hardly fit anymore. So we could wear our graphic tees with our favorite pair of high-waisted vintage jeans and call it fashion. I've been doing that for the past six months, as I somehow have some new sartorial connection to graphic tees. I can't put them down, can't stop buying them. Here's some history:

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Exhibit A is me wearing my favorite band tee from my first time seeing Arcade Fire (one of my favorite bands) in 2014. The shirt has got some good mems attached to it, but also looks aesthetically pleasing for those of you who don't know AF (Call Me by Your Name, anyone?). I've worn this baby probably once every two weeks for the past four years in various ways—under slips, tied at the waist with Dickies, tucked into Levi's with a blazer.


Exhibit B is the first instance I wore a graphic tee that was not a band tee—this one is the first shirt I bought from Monogram, which I discovered through Man Repeller. While I wear band tees because they have a story behind them, I wear this one for only one narrow story in mind—because it looks cool! I paired it with the jeans that I wore nonstop before I discovered vintage Levi's, as one year ago I thought the only way to wear graphic tees fashionably was to do the whole denim thing.


Exhibit C, feat. my messy kitchen and my smudgy mirror, pays tribute to the band tee again, but in a different way—no dates or names are mentioned, it's just a black and white image of Angel Olsen, which most people would assume to be a trendy tee featuring some random woman, but Angel Olsen fans would notice at second glance who it is. This was in the midst of finals week, which is why I only styled it with jeans (but really cool Ref ones) and sneakers. It looked cool at the time, but now I do the whole graphic tee with sneakers and cool pants at least twice a week. As I said earlier, some things get exhausted way too quickly.



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Exhibit D, featuring the same pants from Exhibit A, is when I used my love of graphic tees for a good cause and to be proud of my queer identity. Two birds with one stone! If you happen to live under a rock, Everlane has been making their 100% Human tees very fashionable but also impactful, as they donate part of their proceeds to various organizations. This one donated to the HRC, and I wore it when I went to NYC Pride this past summer, paired with a shit ton of color, for obvious reasons.


Pants by & Other Stories. Shoes by Adidas. Socks by Urban Outfitters (similar glitter ones here).Photos shot by Lucy in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.




































And we finally have Exhibit E, aka current time. My 100% Human tee inspired me to continue to wear shirts associated with my identity and values, so shown here is one from Lisa Says Gah that I wanted for months and finally came back in stock for a short window (which is unfortunately gone, hopefully it comes back soon!). It's not only super colorful, which helps my New Year's resolution of incorporating more (bright) color into my wardrobe, but it also holds a lot of sartorial and feminist power. As someone who studies gender and sexuality studies, I'm really over people wearing shirts that don feminist chants without knowing its origin, or simply tees that don't really hold meaning at all. The first case mainly points out to those infamous "The Future is Female" shirts that Dior had on the runway one year ago, which actually has a deep history in the lesbian movement in the '70s and became popular after being included in a slide show titled "What the Well Dressed Dyke Will Wear." So to all the straight girls wearing these shirts: know its history! The one I'm wearing now features a term developed in the '70s by second-wave feminists, as the term "woman" is derived from "man," implying that we are a sub-category of men, or the "Other" to the dominance of men, and "womyn" makes sure to get rid of this male-dependence. Women's studies and etymology lecture over.

I wear the top to both make a shoutout to feminism, but also because it looks great with a pair of black wide-leg corduroy pants with a star-bandana and really worn-in sneakers (which I've finally replaced with these!). As I said earlier, right now it's quite impossible to put effort into what we wear, so being able to wear used-to-be-white sneakers and call it fashion is more than important. If I wore this same 'fit with a plain white tee, it would result in a boring, almost-there look, but adding a meaningful graphic tee to the mix really changes the game. It does all of the work for you! Which is maybe why they're so important to me right now, when the last thing I want to do is actually try too hard with my sartorial decisions. Anyways, fashion is a lot more fun when there's a story behind it.


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