T-shirts, those American wardrobe basics, have their own sliding scale of trendiness. Despite similar construction and cotton content, they continue to evolve with the times. Sophisticates wear them plain -- in black or white -- confident that their own wit is superior to any manufactured slogan. Then there are the folks who are so out of the loop that they actually appear in public imprinted with something that says "Foxy Lady" or "I'm with stupid."
In between, there are new entries daily, speaking up for the most current adjustments in lifestyle.
The latest on line are "Emoticons" T-shirts from Netwear. With the Internet culture developing its own language, could T-shirts be far behind? The white T's are imprinted with symbols derived from standard keyboard characters that Internet users apply to express emotions or physical characteristics. As the shirt promotion says, "Emoticons have a different way of looking at the world. Just tilt your head to the left and smile." For example, the Emoticon symbol for happy is :) a smiley face seen sideways. Bummer types up as :( .
The idea that Mr. Smiley or Mr. Yuk have entered our culture's iconography and language is pretty scary, but then so are Marilyn Manson T-shirts.
The Emoticon shirts are $16, plus shipping. For Valentine's Day, there are Hug and a Kiss and Red Rose shirts for cyber-sweethearts. Call (800) 90N WEAR.
For folks who have found the prescription for dealing with this stress-filled world there is the "Nobody Knows I'm on Prozac" T-shirt. It's the newest message from Don't Panic! Designs, the stores and catalog that cater to a gay and lesbian clientele.
Jeff Wentzel, spokesman for the company, feels "Prozac Pride" is the next wave of social evolution as more people come out and admit their need for emotional adjustment.
The T-shirts are $15.99 and can be ordered by calling (800) 45 PANIC.
The U.S. Postal Service flush with its success with the Elvis stamp, has entered into a licensing agreement to reproduce some of the best stamp designs from its 150-year history on T-shirts and other casual attire. Postmark American wear will start marketing the clothing in March.
The stamp design themes will include wildlife, sports, movie stars and the environment. American Eagle Apparel, the license holder, will have access to the Postal Service's archives as a resource, and the clothing will have tags or prints of the original stamp that inspired the design.