Archived Story

T-shirts bring treasured memories to mind

Published 11:59am Friday, June 28, 2013

Summertime and T-shirts make for good music.

I was driving this week and the Janna Kramer song Why You Wanna came on the radio. When Janna crooned “Why you wanna show up in an old T-shirt that I love,” it prompted me to think about how many songs reference T-shirts. The themes range from favorite T-shirts to women scorned in their cheating men’s T-shirts.

Keith Urban sings about a girl looking good in his shirt. Jessica Simpson once sang about sitting there in nothing but her T-shirt.

The classic T-shirt is an androgynous wardrobe staple. I constantly steal John’s T-shirts.

Everyone has favorite T-shirts. T-shirts remind us of certain people, certain times, events and most importantly: the way we felt when we wore them.

How many T-shirts have been thrown out, or kept, that represented old boyfriends or girlfriends? Memories you want to forget or remember. There is something romantic about T-shirts.

One such T-shirt I have kept through the years is a white one with the MTV logo stamped across it. It represents my first trip to New York when I was 19. It was 2005, and I was in college, feeling wild and uninhibited. It’s perfectly worn, and I even wear it to work occasionally, tucked in a pair of slacks.

John and I conducted a T-shirt cleanse when we moved in together. Entire dressers would have been filled with T-shirts alone. Our frat and sorority collection, amassed from our time at Auburn and Alabama, respectively, was out of control.

We knew we would never make a quilt out of them (we are not that proactive) and decided to dig deep and keep only the ‘special’ ones.

We would hold one up and say “Oh that was the night that…,” or “I wore this when…” It was a walk down memory lane, resulting in John keeping his first SAE party tee while I kept my KD Halloween party tees. Only because they had the best graphics.

Nothing projects as much emotion as John’s Camp Tuckabatchee T-shirt. I’ll be honest – I have hidden it before. It is probably from 1994, thread bare and pit stained. You can barely read the print on it, and he refuses to part with it. One of my friends ended up with it on Memorial Day weekend, and I had to make a huge deal of taking it off her person.

“I’m sorry, it is his absolute favorite,” I explained.

Ultimately it represents boyhood adventures. I suppose it will fall off his body one day.

All this being said, have you bought a SunFest tee yet? Designed by Jim Denney, these shirts are working the hip factor. The state of Alabama is prominent. From a distance, there will be no doubt about what it is representing, and we are making a lasting first impression with this shirt

The rooster is a nod to our southern agriculture heritage. We may have the lake, but do not forget we have a lot of farmland too. The shirts are that faded vintage wash with pockets. The tank tops are summer cool. They will catch the eye and hopefully prompt people to wonder…What is SunFest?

The goal is for SunFest to become a festival that people will plan for and travel to from far and wide, year after year. Gulf Shores has the Hang Out. Dothan has the Peanut Festival. We have SunFest! It will evolve, and some things will stick and others won’t. Share what you love about other places, and let’s focus on what we can do similar here.

I believe this T-shirt will represent the first SunFest well and will someday evoke the memory of a turning point in Alexander City. When people re-experienced their town for the first time.

A faded and holey SunFest T-shirt will be pulled from a drawer, years from now, and it will be perfectly broken in. It will sound like a 2013 hit, smell like lake water, feel like a sunburn and taste like watermelon.

I’d love to hear your T-shirt stories.

Howell works as an advertising representative for Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc., in addition to writing this column. Contact Howell at to keep her In the Loop of events.