Painfully Him: Vintage Tees and the Quest for Perfection

Hallelujah! This is Painfully Hip’s 500th post! And what are we going to do? Well, seeing that we already had our millionth visitor and 2 year anniversary landmarks this month, we thought we’d mix it up.

Awesome All Day is the funniest pop culture blog you’ve never read. That is until you read this guest post on vintage tees from an irish man with a big heart, a magnificent beard and a great collection. Before you know it, you’ll be getting a foam finger tattooed on your neck.

Thanks, Rory!

by Rory

I was born with a torso.

It’s not the biggest or the greatest torso in the world, but it’s mine and I love it. If you’ve got one of these things you know how difficult it can be to keep them covered (I’m looking at you Girls Gone Wild). Fortunately, over the years I’ve become pretty good at wearing shirts. Amber just noticed this and asked me to do a guest post sharing my phenomenal t-shirt know how.


Vintage t-shirt hunting is a lot like hunting in real life except with less needless animal slaughter. If you’re going to try to find shirts from local thrift stores, fashion boutiques, and parental closets the best strategy is to scour the racks frequently and to keep in mind three simple factors.

The Fit: By far the most important facet of a solid vintage top. No amount of ironic graphics, non-sequitur slogans, or awesome album artwork can make a t-shirt that fits like a muumuu or upper body prophylactic look cool. Great shirts are shirts that fit great, that’s what makes them attractive, not the logo or comedic value.

The Condition: Does the shirt have pit stains (before you put it on)? Are there holes around the collar/ base/ or underneath the arms? Some vintage shirts can be more expensive than a mail-order bride who knows how to cook and loves to wrestle, so it’s key to make sure that you can use them again and again without worrying about them decomposing into nothingness (the shirt, not the bride). Softee shirts seem to be the standard nowadays, but a thick cotton shirt from the late 70’s early 80’s is going to hold its shape and be a lot more durable and flattering.

The Cost: Don’t let your kids starve to death because you NEEDED that epic Metallica shirt (honestly, there are plenty of other reasons to let them starve). Shopping locally is a good way to avoid paying too much for your sartorial cravings but, if you just can’t seem to find exactly what you want, you should check out these two Ebay stores. Their prices are usually decent and you get the added bonus of outbidding suckers at the last minute.

Smith and Pooter: I don’t know which one is Smith and which one is Pooter… I think it might be like one of those things that just sounds better when you say it together, like Starsky and Hutch or Sodom and Gomorrah.

Hattrick Vintage: This is really great Ebay store that has a wide variety of t-shirt, jackets, and vintage hockey apparel (which Amber keeps trying to convince me is a real sport… Maybe a real Canadian sport).


There is also this truly massive t-shirt database called Teenormous where you can search for over 62,292 shirts (and counting) If you really want to find a particular image to adorn yourself with. Think Google but, with less porn and fashion blogs.

It’s vital that before you go online and try to restart the economy with your debit card, get yourself measured. Vintage shirts tend to run smaller then their tags let on (that or I have an eating problem and refuse to acknowledge that it affects my girth). Fortunately any online store worth its salt will give you the measurements of what they’re trying to sell. Most tailors will measure you and tell you your size for free, so go ahead and take advantage of them.

In conclusion I’ve created a short video to express the joy that my t-shirt collection has brought me.