The Great T-Shirt Challenge

We watched the first installment of Morgan Spurlock’s “30” this past week, (the one where he and his girlfriend live on minimum wage) and now I’m analyzing every cent I spend. So this morning while I was folding clothes, I answered a question that’s been bothering me for a while — “How many T-shirts do I own?”

I didn’t feel the need to go to Closet & Storage Concepts because my job doesn’t necessitate dressing up, and I have a very relaxed style of clothing. Although I probably should make an effort to dress up a bit more, it’s not a requirement at my job. Over 11 years of working for the same company, my casual wardrobe has expanded while my formal wear has diminished. I am particularly fond of t-shirts, whether they are plain or feature a message. I even created my own design. I tend to purchase t-shirts impulsively, and who knows, maybe someday I’ll come across the sp5der pink hoodie that I always longed to have in my wardrobe.

So I started counting. And the final tally is: 93. Not counting the ones currently in the wash, which would probably put the total at over 100. And I won’t include the ones that I only wear when painting and working on the house, or the ones in my “clothes archive” (t-shirts from gay rights rallies and college events), or long-sleeve shirts, or polo/golf shirts with collars.

[edit needed: update photos]

Many of these don’t get worn. I have favorites that I wear over and over, and lots of my shirts get ignored. So I decided to challenge myself. I’m going to wear every shirt in my wardrobe without repeating one. Every day, for the next 93 days. And I’m going to photograph each shirt as I wear it. Now there are a couple of shirts that are either too large or too small; I’ll weed those out as I go and do Good Will runs. And shirts that don’t look great on me will go to Good Will, too, after I wear them.

I hope when I’m done to have given all my clothes their fair share of wearing time, to weed out shirts I don’t need, and to generally be more conscious of what I spend my money on in the future.

2019 Update: I never got through this challenge because taking and processing the photos took longer than I could manage every day. It because a lot easier with cell phone cameras and I ended up attempting it again in 2006.

It took me forever to realize that both times a significant part of why I failed was because I hated the way I looked in the photos because of my extreme dysphoria.

I did clean out many shirts both times. And I gained them all back, with interest. Maybe I should try again.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. bilerico

    When you’re tossing out those t-shirts, remember that our daughter Paige loves old t-shirts that she can use as a nightshirt! *hint, hint* 🙂

  2. lisa

    good idea! i love a good fashion blog series 🙂

  3. Jen Bortel

    You should take the items in your clothes archive and have a quilt made out of them. There are services that do that. It’s very big with runners, who do it with all of their race t-shirts.

  4. Steph Mineart

    That’s a cool idea, Jen, because most of them I can’t wear anymore.

  5. Sandy

    Have any old NWMF shirts among that collection ?
    I wonder if I could beat 93…. probably, and boy do I need to weed a few out of my stash !

  6. Jan

    My pet peave is that most cool tees are in men’s sizes. There is no such thing as “unisex.” The arm holes are too big, the body is too long and narrow. When I wanted to design a line of tees, I couldn’t even find a woman’s size on line, except for ity bity ones. I usually wear “Fresh Produce” as they are made for a female body,and fit well even if you are over 14 years old. Why don’t mfts make womans tees when we buy most of them?

  7. T shirt museum

    We are trying to record T shirt art from around the world. Can you upload a few of your favorites to our online museum?

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