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Official Article

Treasured Clothing

Every kid has that one clothing item their inexplicably attached to. Think back, did you have a pair of Reebok Pumps you wore every day because you thought they made you play like Michael Jordan? Was there a bracelet or necklace you imagined as a magic pendant that gave you special powers? What about that precious sweater made by your Grandma with the little bunny on it that you loved so much? OK, that last one probably didn't get lasting devotion from you, but I think my point is clear. Today I’d like to take you through a few of my childhood wardrobe items I just couldn't live without.

It is very clear from the wardrobe of my youth that Spider-Man had spun a web around my young imagination from the start, as the majority of my childhood photos from age 2-4 captured me in a shirt featuring the wise-cracking wall-crawler. I know these fashion selections were at my insistence as a toddler, because no one in my family was a comic book fan besides yours truly and the other outfits selected by my Mom were always polo shirts and preppy sweaters. This shirt in particular appears in photos from birthday parties, visits to the park with my sister and other home-based adventures, so I can only imagine it was demanded daily and worn until it disintegrated in the washing machine. Though Spider-Man socks and underwear tried to vie for my affection over the years, they couldn't hold a candle to this masterpiece.

Yes, I am the pale, goblin looking creature in the Orlando Magic hat holding the Robin themed Pinewood Derby car and boy was that hat a source of confusion. As stated before, I loved comics and as a result, had zero interest in Basketball. I was too busy memorizing my favorite super-heroes first appearance issues to be bothered with how many assists Spud Webb had in the 1989 season. Of course most people didn't know that, so I was constantly being asked my thoughts on some guy named Shaquille O’Neal or if I “saw the game last night”. But the constant badgering from sports fans wasn't enough to stop me from unknowingly misrepresenting myself on a daily basis.

The real story behind the hat was quite innocent. On a weekly round of garage sale shopping with my Mom, I came upon this hat that said “Magic” and I wanted in on some of that action. I don’t know what I expected, maybe some sort of mystical power to levitate playground equipment or something to impress the ladies. Truthfully, I had no idea it was even the name of a sports team at all, since I was from California, which is on the exact opposite side of the country from where they played. Still I wore the thing for a year straight and even had my mom re-stitch the size adjuster on the back, after it came loose. Oh and in case you were wondering, those magic powers never materialized. Total false advertising!

Confused yet? Yep, that’s a backwards baseball cap wearing tough guy kicking a Ninja that is simultaneously being shot by a leather jacket clad police officer with an automatic weapon. I don’t blame you for getting distracted by the action in this photo, but allow me to focus your attention on the true subject of the image, my cut-off jean shorts. The fact that I would wear them as part of a Ninja costume during this random act of imagination is a true testament to how awesome I thought they were. Let me be clear, these were not available in stores. I physically cut-off the bottom half of my jeans thinking I was the “raddest” dude on the block. I don’t even know where I got the idea, unless I was just taking the heavy metal ripped jeans look to its logical conclusion, which is actually very likely. I don’t believe I was ever cleared to wear my “cut-offs” to school, but I know they were a mainstay for summer 1992 and most weekend activities.

If you don’t remember Planet Hollywood, allow me to bring you up to speed. It was a movie themed restaurant opened in the early 90’s by the previous decade’s greatest action stars: Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Willis, that featured actual movie props on display in each location. We had a location open briefly just 5 minutes away from my house and luckily I talked my Dad into taking me in 1993 before it closed. Aside from the overpriced burgers and milkshakes, what really made me want to become a walking billboard for weeks at a time was a Batman sighting in front of their establishment.

I distinctly remember pulling into the parking lot of the shopping plaza that housed Planet Hollywood and seeing the restaurant in the distance with a black clad figure standing out front. As we pulled closer I saw that it was the 1989 Michael Keaton Batman on patrol in front of a full-sized Batmobile! I excitedly pointed him out to my Dad, and was going out of my mind thinking I would get to shake his hand or take a ride in his vicious vehicle. For some reason we had to take a roundabout route before arriving at our destination where the Dark Knight was waiting and as we pulled around the other side of the restaurant, he was gone! I was looking every direction and couldn't see him anywhere. How could he be hiding? He had pointy ears and a cape!

When we got inside, no one could confirm that Batman had been by just 5 minutes before, it was as if I had witnessed a Tim Burton inspired mirage. I tried to make the most of seeing Arnold’s torn-up leather jacket from Terminator 2: Judgement Day in a glass display case, but what I really wanted was to shake hands with Gotham’s brooding protector. Buying the shirt softened the disappointment a little and gave me the chance to tell that story for years afterwards, but I’ll always have a pain in my heart from the moment I almost met Batman.

This final photo encapsulates what most of my high school classmates knew me for, my KISS fandom. See the original band got back together my Freshman year and I totally got caught up in the hype of the Reunion Tour. My KISS-teria took many forms from singing their songs with my band at talent shows, to drawing the logo all over my schoolbooks, to wearing the merchandise. No piece of KISS clothing was more special to me than my vintage KISS belt buckle from 1976. It actually filled me with confidence, despite the fact that nobody I knew really appreciated it. I wore it every day to hold up my sagging 90's shorts and regularly called attention to it like my pose in the photo suggests. I even wore it during my high school graduation ceremony, hiding it under my robe before quickly wrapping it around the outside of the gown when I walked a across the stage to accept my diploma. Yeah, I was a little obsessed. but without a doubt, its finest moment was during my first job interview.

My buddy had been working at an SAT prep school called the Princeton Review for a few years and when I told him I was looking for work, he got me an appointment. I had never sought out employment before and at 16, I was very unprepared. To make matters worse it was a group interview and my answers to the basic questions showed my lack of experience. By the end of the interview it was clear that I was not in the running, but as I got up to walk out the interviewer pulled me aside and said, "Do you know you're wearing a KISS belt buckle?" To which I responded, "Yeah." without any hint of shame. It was only in retrospect that I realized this was not considered professional attire.

So that's MY story, tell me all about your favorite childhood fashion statements? What piece of clothing made you feel cool or comforted?

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egome2 Posted on Jan 10, 2016 at 04:28 PM

My most treasured shirt will be my nirvana live in utero shirt from 1992

pikachulover Posted on Apr 22, 2015 at 05:18 AM

I couldn't have put it on the outside. The school was very strict about what you could wear. I would have been just a graduate in a sparkly strapped bra.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Apr 19, 2015 at 04:18 PM

@Vaporman87 I have a soft spot for promotional t-shirts as well, but the comment that interests me most is the Spuds McKenzie shirt. I have always found it fascinating how lenient adults were back in the day letting kids wear shirts for products they were not old enough to consume. Like Spuds or the Budweiser frogs. Most specifically I remember a girl in my weight training class in high school who wore a shirt crammed with cartoon characters in "Inappropriate" positions, but because they were drawings, no teacher ever noticed. It was crazy.

@pikachulover At least you didn't put that on display for all to see outside your robe. That would have been B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

pikachulover Posted on Apr 18, 2015 at 03:51 AM

I loved the part about the belt buckle. I too had my concealed fashion statement under my graduation robe. A bra with sequined straps. The only reason I wanted it was because it was like the bras with the decorated straps like Gwen Stefani wore. They sold those at the mall. The tank top came with a matching bra.

I remember there was a girl at my junior high that had a shirt that said "Berlin" on it as in Germany not the band. I asked if she went to Germany, but she said she bought the shirt at the local swap meet, and she only bought it because it had Looney Tunes characters on the shirt.

Vaporman87 Posted on Apr 18, 2015 at 01:05 AM

I had several shirts and hats I treasured. No pants though. LOL. One shirt I really loved was my Subway "Put A Foot In Your Mouth" shirt. It was just a plain white t-shirt with the Subway logo and the phrase I just mentioned emblazoned across the chest in red. I wore that shirt for decades (seriously, decades). Also, there was a Batman shirt that was black and had the Dark Knight standing in the shadows wearing his classic blue and grey garb. Finally, there was my Spuds McKenzie shirt in all it's bright pastel on white glory. I have a photo of me in that shirt from many years ago. It only recently was discarded, after the armpits became a crusty mass and it could no longer be comfortably worn. LOL

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