[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]
The problems began as soon as Roz showed up for a round of drinks before a New Order concert. She appeared at the table wearing a vintage “New Order Substance 1987” T-shirt. Julia was the first to pounce.
“Uncool!” she exclaimed, aghast. “Shirt-to-show faux pas! You’re not supposed to wear a band’s T-shirt to a show featuring that band! That’s terrible form. It looks like you’re trying too hard. Rookie error! You need to go home and change.”
Roz was nonplussed. “What? I can’t show my support and my years-long love for the group? I kept this 30-year-old T-shirt in pristine condition specifically for nights like this!”
They both looked at me. Where did I stand on the shirt-to-show debate? I stammered something non-commital but was saved by the people at the next table who had opinions to express the matter — and on both sides. Then the waitress got involved. An hour later, nothing was resolved but at least no tables were toppled.
Turns out there are a series of (mostly) unwritten rules about when to wear band T-shirts, who can wear them, and why. The proper etiquette has never been standardized, which means that it’s easy to run afoul of someone’s interpretation of these rules.
First, a few facts about such shirts.