I have a lot of tech t-shirts. Here’s an overview of my personal style and opinions. There’s a lot of politics in t-shirt selection, much of it good, still even more of it driven by aesthetics. I’m not seeking to win any points in those games (well, except maybe that all genders should have shirts that are designed for them), just telling you what I like.
Why? I get asked for input on t-shirts at least twice a year (often more). Here’s a URL for that input. And, I end-up getting a lot of tech t-shirts. Thankfully, my mom really likes them, so about 2–3 times a year I give her a couple t-shirt grocery bags full of t-shirts, the shitty ones.
Less shit on the shirt
First, some general comments:
- I don’t like any shit on the back of the shirt, unless it’s a tiny brand name or URL right at the top.
- I don’t like those shirts with a big, sticky feeling print thing on them (with an exception for pure awesomeness as you’ll see in a couple of them). I think that means I like “screen-print” shirts.
- They, of course, have to be that super-soft material. Those “beefy-t” shirts go right into the plastic bag of shirts I give to my mom (well, actually, I just don’t pick them up in less I get tricked into doing so).
- I’m overweight — and I think most people who get tech t-shirts are (ducks)— so I don’t like those “slim fit” shirts. No one wants to see me act out the hit song, “My Humps.”
- You gotta have women sizes, of course. (Close followers will instantly notice that we don’t do that over at the podcast — need to add a card in Trello posthaste!)
- Pictures and designs instead of just words are good, but words are fine.
- In general, your company’s logo is crap on a shirt. And for God’s sake, don’t put in on the sleeve. Don’t put anything on the sleeve.
- Speaking of logos, those t-shirts where you list a bunch of sponsor logos on the back are garbage.
- Colors: this is tricky. I clearly like grey shirts instead of bright colors. Also, I generally don’t like black, as Dan Baskette put it: “I’m not at a Motley Crue concert, so don’t give me a black t-shirt.” Actual color (blue, green, red, etc.) is probably OK. But. I like grey.
Here’s a selection. These are not all, by far, t-shirts from tech conferences, but most of them could be and illustrate my taste:
Apparently, I buy a lot of (super-fucking-expensive-oh-my-God-I-should-just-be-a-dandy-fellow-and-shop-at-Nordstrom-oh-I’m-supporting-indepedent-aritsts-OK-then-here’s-my-wallet-and-ATM-PIN) Cotton Bureau shirts.
Occasionally, you get lucky and there’s a hoodie or jacket. First, hoodies and jackets are super-awesome to get at a conference. The OpenStack people are really good at this, and at Pivotal we’ve had several internal conferences that were awesome on this front too.
For me, hoodies and jackets have slightly different rules:
- I’m not in a motorcycle gang, so I don’t want any shit on the back.
- Same for the front.
- That said, there are some exceptions if it’s subtle. The two OpenStack hoodies I have are good examples of this.
- It’s OK to just discreetly put your company’s name and logo on the left breast.
- A thin-hoodie is actually pretty nice — I have an OpenStack hoodie that’s an excellent example of this, it’s a good “layering” thing versus the ultra thick ones.
- When it comes to fabric, I think “beefy-t” is fine.
- My Pivotal hoodie has a clever feature: the Pivotal name is embroidered on the rim of the hood. Nifty!
A selection (sadly, I don’t think anyone’s ever given me a jacket — you know who you are!):
T-shirt what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law
Like I said, it’s not like I have any opinions on the matter of tech conference t-shirts. Nope.