You can tell a lot about a person from what they choose to wear. For instance, every day on my way to work, I walk past a man who I have never spoken to.
Yet I know he is overly confident. I know this because he always wears trousers that are far to tight to be decent. He happily goes to work looking NSFW. That takes balls. Balls that we can all see pressing against his chinos like shrink wrapped quail eggs.
He also wears brown leather slip on shoes and no socks, so I can also comfortably predict he is a terrible person and has one of the jobs that has the words ‘social’ or ‘engagement’ in its title.
On his top half he is regularly attired in a fitted shirt and sports coat. He even includes a flourish of colour with a silk hanky in his top pocket. This makes his sartorial choices for his torso nearly identical to mine. However, as I match my bottom half with trousers of a less provocative cut, and shoes AND socks, it could be argued I am half as confident as him. Or half as terrible, probably with one of those horrendous jobs with ‘Marketing’ in the title.
From his attire alone I have also deduced other information about him. He is called Kelvin and would rather grind his aforementioned tightly clothed genitals into a tub of broken glass than bring homemade sandwiches to work (or carry any amount of change in his pockets).
Unlike his cock and balls, these facts are not kept in plain sight. They are based solely on a two minute evaluation I made of him as I passed him on the way to the office.
I dare anyone to say that they don’t make these same assumptions about people, based simple on a few bare guesses. Much as you would know that it will take a pair of decorators 25 minutes to put up a step ladder when you hear that first “From me to you”, as they unload the van.
Actually, you notice, they’ve arrived in some sort of pedal car, and so you also make a mental note to update your contents insurance.
The only time these guesses fail is when it comes to people wearing T-shirts with band names on.
It’s all the fault of ‘vintage’ clothing, really. That and the fact that fewer rock stars die young. This means that the retro look now incorporates bands that are still touring or at least releasing best of albums.
Are there really a horde of teenagers who think that Iron Maiden’s Live After Death live album is so good they’ve chased up T-Shirts to celebrate the fact? Or is this something that Urban Outfitters has dreamed up?
Are flute-led prog rockers Jethro Tull pulling in a huge number of 14 year old fans?
The T-shirt wearing teen population would suggest that they have a more mature musical taste than I did.
(The caveat to that is, at 14, I thought Live After Death was the best album. Ever. And required high levels of air guitar and lip syncing.)
This could be true. Music streaming services have democratised music and made discovering old music as easy as listening to the ‘hottest beats’. (A couple of years ago I spent a twenty minute bus journey listening to two teenagers try to decide if The Smiths or The Cure were the Best Band in the World. (Both we’re wrong. It’s Iron Maiden, especially their Live After Death album.))
Or all the band T shirts could just be fashion.
As I am of a certain age, I would be expected to think that this appropriation of my adolescence by this generation of adolescents is a Very Bad Thing. After all, the only people who should be allowed to wear iron maiden T-shirts should be Andy from accounts and other middle aged men. It lets you know who to aim the car at.
But I don’t think that. I think let them have the T-shirts, even if they’re modern reprints. Even if they don’t know that the monster smashing its way out of the grave is called Eddie. We’re not using these things anymore (expect Andy; come on man. Please.)
And seeing those T-shirts again, doesn’t it make you nostalgic? Didn’t you tut, shake your head sadly and mutter about the commercialisation of false nostalgia, then go home and crank out Two Minutes To Midnight with the volume turned all the way up to 7 (you’ve the neighbours to consider)?
Plus, who is to say who music belongs to? Do you like The Beatles?
And so what if to some of these teens, it’s just a cool T-shirt? After all, it is a cool T-shirt.
Plus, there’s this thing now called the internet. It makes things easy to find. So a clothing purchase, a google search and a Spotify play list could mean another Iron Maiden fan is born.
That in the olden days buying a band T-shirt came second to discovering their music is not part of the discussion. And that fact should be plain to see and upfront. Just like Kelvin’s balls, really.
This was written in response to Assumption.