Advice please: T-shirt refashion

As a teenager in the ‘90s, I was a real little indie kid.

My best friend lived near the infamous Old Trout pub in Windsor, gig venue for every indie band ever on their way up to success (and many who would never again reach such heady heights as the 250-capacity audience at the Old Trout).

We went there religiously, every weekend, taking in all our favourite bands: Supergrass, Blur, Pulp, Oasis, Elastica, Sleeper, Suede, Echobelly… I could go on. Oh, we were obsessed.

Pulp, one of the greatest bands of the ’90s for sure…

Every spare minute that wasn’t spent actually attending gigs was devoted to obsessively checking gig listings and writing extensive dramatic renditions of implausible scenarios where we met Damon from Blur (my friend) or Alex from Blur (me) and they realised they were desperately in love with us and took us away on tour with them. (Genuinely. Going “on tour” with them was pretty much the pinnacle of our teenage longings…)

Well, either that or hopelessly stalking Peter, from Iver Heath, who had curtains*, was two years older than us and drove a VW Beetle. I was dedicated to finding out his surname, somehow, in order to practice writing Mrs Sabrina So-and-so on all my science books.

But, just as much time and effort was focused on our wardrobe. Looking back now, I see that the sartorial choices of the mid-90s indie kid were somewhat formulaic, but at the time they seemed daring, shocking, and hugely individual…

You could put together a standard gig-going outfit like this:

Top, select either: (All must be very tight-fitting and expose a good amount of navel)

  • “Ironic” Disney T-shirt, bought from the children’s section of M&S
  • Silver vest
  • Band T-shirt

Trousers, select either:

  • Black leather trousers
  • Combats

Shoes, select either:

  • Doc Martens (any colours preferred above black)
  • Army boots (I sprayed mine silver. Uh-huh.)

Accessorise with colourfully-painted nails, lots of black eyeliner, a few children’s hair clips and a lot of silver jewellery (ideally bought from “Kenny market” or Camden).**

But of all these ingredients, the most important, the one that conveyed the most respect and adoration among envious friends was the Band tee. Any of my newpaper-round money that wasn’t spent on attending gigs was spent on purchasing T-shirts at gigs.  I had hundreds, I am pretty sure, but over the years they’ve all been lost / discarded / used as dusters / thrown away in disgust.

And then, the other day, going through some clothes that had been packed away in a suitcase for years, I came across this crumpled Pulp “I’m common” T-shirt.

Pulp T-shirt
Ah I really should have ironed this before photographing…

Bought from Glastonbury in the summer of 1995.

I had just finished my GCSEs, and as a reward was allowed to go to Glastonbury for all four days with my best friend and boyfriend. We all shared one tent, though when it came to putting it up, we discovered that the inside was mouldy, so spent three nights sleeping under an open triangle. It was a scorching hot weekend, so warm that I burnt my hands so badly that my fingers swelled up to the size of sausages. My friends could spot me in any crowd with my bright red sausage hands up the air, the blue fingernails contrasting against the almost exploding skin.

We saw so many bands I can barely remember them all. I think we circled the programme to make sure we got the optimum route planned between each performance.

The Stone Roses were scheduled to headline, but they dropped out at the last moment. Instead, Pulp stepped in, one of my all time favourite bands, and started their set with their new song, Sorted for Es and Whizz.

As Jarvis, one of my ultimate heroes, took his gangly-framed body to the stage, the crowd cheered and cheered and the applause became deafening as he sang the first line:

“Oh, is this the way they say the future’s meant to feel? Or just 20,000 people standing in a field?”

That moment – the heat evaporating off the crowd, the sun setting, Pulp on stage, my best friend and I pogoing up and down like crazed things – is undoubtedly one of the greatest memories of my teenage years.***

And this little sunny yellow T-shirt, that now looks so small to me it could surely be worn by a seven-year-old, brought all those wonderful memories flooding back.

So, extensive reminiscences over, we come to the crux of this blog post. What should I do with the T-shirt?

I would like to refashion it into something that could be vaguely usable in some way, but I can’t think of anything suitable.

Pinterest is full of T-shirt refashions (of course), but the two most frequently recurring options don’t quite work for me. A popular choice is to turn your old T-shirt into a new summer dress for your daughter (this sun dress, for example, is gorgeous). Though I love the idea, in this instance this provides me with three problems: my old T-shirt is tiny, I don’t have a daughter, and even if I did, you wouldn’t want your daughter wandering round with this on her front, would you:

Pulp T-shirt
It’s only now, 20 years later, that I get why my Mum didn’t love me wearing this top.

The second alternative is to turn it into a cushion (like this Chuck Norris cushion), but again, I’m not really sure that I want a faded yellow cushion anywhere in my house.

So, dear readers, any thoughts? Genius brainwaves? All suggestions most welcome! Please drop me a comment and let me know…

For now, the T-shirt is going back into a suitcase, still crumpled, while I wait for inspiration to strike.

P.S. After the frenzied sorting and organising of a few weeks ago, the packing was stepped up a notch last week as we put all of our possessions into boxes and all of our furniture into a storage unit at the weekend and drove down to spend a month or so living with my Mum. Hence the recent radio silence. A little more sorting and organising this weekend and hopefully I will be in a position where I can actually find some clothes to put on in the mornings and normal life can resume again…

*I mean the classic ‘90s haircut, of course, not the window coverings. I wasn’t that easily impressed.

**Thinking back now, I can also remember some other slightly less formulaic outfits. There was a pair of red tartan trousers, which I matched with a blue V-neck t-shirt that said “Hooker” on the front. That was the name of a band. As I told my Mum repeatedly every time I tried to wear it out of the house. Now I think about it, I suspect the band – who certainly never made it past Old Trout status – probably only chose that name so idiotic 15-year-olds just like me would walk around with a T-shirt that said Hooker on the front…

Less sleazy, I also had a pair of purple dungarees with tye-die black moons and gold printed suns on them. Oh, they were a look! I wore them with a green combat shirt tied round the waist and a small T-shirt underneath (but of course, of course) and a permanent grimace. I actually have photographic evidence of this look, but I think it is evidence I should take to the grave.

***I feel obliged to point out, just in case my Mum is reading (she’s not) that we were not sorted for Es or whizz or any other sort of chemical stimulation. Indeed, despite the freedom of being allowed to go to Glastonbury on our very own at the age of 16, I think we didn’t even touch a sip of alcohol the whole time we were there. It was all about the music, man…

17 thoughts on “Advice please: T-shirt refashion

  1. You do make me smile! How about turning your T-shirt into a peg bag? You’d get to see it and relive all those memories quite often, but it would probably live in a cupboard the rest of the time, away from disapproving glances!

  2. Oh Sabrina, I was thinking you must be in the throws of moving to have been so quiet. And how I love this post. I am a child of the 80’s so all the music references are lost on me. But I know the nostalgic rush of remembrance that you captured superbly. Sausage fingers. The moment you’ll always remember. Too cute.
    What’s a peg bag? I like the idea of framing it. But I have a dozen recycle projects that I’m not getting to so I’m the last person to advise you.

      1. Ah, a bag for clothes pins. I sold vintage ones when I had my shop. I don’t have a line outside to hang my clothes but everyone raves it’s the way to do it. All I can say is WORK. I have a good feeling that the move and remove will do wonders for your crafting prioritizing.

  3. Hey I was watching Pulp in a field in somerset too. It was the best! memories memories, also I would like to see you in tie dye dungarees and red tartan trousers please, however I am hoping the hooker t-shirt has been burnt.

    1. I don’t think the tartan trews ever got photographed, but there is definitely one of the purple tie dye dungaree look. Oh dear that was a terrible, terrible look. I remember being so delighted when I bought them!

  4. Wish I’d seen Pulp in a field in Somerset – sounds a tad more atmospheric than their first and only concert I went to – downstairs at the Wimpy on Fargate in Sheffield!

    My vote goes to framing it – or if you have enough of those band tees, how about a cool quilt??

    1. Downstairs at a Sheffield Wimpy sounds achingly cool! 15-year-old me would be seriously jealous…

      A quilt would be wonderful, but I don’t think I have any more of those T-shirts surviving (though who knows what I might find in another bag in the attic?!)

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