Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This I Believe: The Fun Party Shirt

I believe in the Fun Party Shirt.

It's customary on our high school campus for athletic--and academic--teammates to wear matching tee shirts, sweatshirts, or uniforms to school on competition days. In a slight twist on tradition, last week the members of the boys' lacrosse team all donned Hawaiian shirts. None of them matching, the shirts were a panoply of color, cheer, individuality, and team camaraderie.

Hawaiian shirts as a genre have evolved beyond simple floral or tropical themes; some of them almost tell the story of an experience or place. Many are outlandish in color and detail.  The lacrosse boys' outfits reminded me of the power of the Fun Party Shirt. I can't remember when it was--high school, maybe, or college--when I bought the embellished or bright or ruffled shirt I dubbed the original Fun Party Shirt. My family soon came to recognize and anticipate me and the Fun Party Shirt in attendance at social events. 

The Fun Party Shirt is an item of clothing you don't think you need. Sometimes trendy, often outdated; found on sale, in a thrift store, or inspiring a splurge, the Fun Party Shirt is always fancy. It's a departure from one's usual style, an attention getter.  It's the textile version of a huge grin. 

Cultures with their own versions of the Fun Party Shirt include the Philippines, with the barong, and Latin America and the Caribbean, with the guayabera, which appear to be influencing American men's fashion:  lately I see men wearing embroidered long-sleeved Fun Party Shirts (with varying levels of comfort and often at the suggestion of their significant others). 

To me, part of the beauty of the Fun Party Shirt is that it involves taking risks with both one's personal wardrobe and social conventions.  I think it's a worthy alternative to wearing--or buying--a dress or tie to a semi-formal occasion.  And then there's the beauty of the Fun Party Shirt itself, because by definition, it exudes joie de vivre, dabbles in iconoclasm, and boasts some form of bedazzlement, embroidery, or ruffles. It distracts from pimples and bad hair days.

It's a beautiful thing to see someone rocking a Fun Party Shirt, someone feeling good and therefore looking good. Someone planning on a good time.  I want to high-five my friends in Fun Party Shirts.

But there's a line, of course, between Fun Party Shirt and Outrageous Fashion Disaster (cue Seinfeld's Puffy Shirt, which was more fun for everyone else).  One should generally choose one's own Fun Party Shirt, with encouragement, not bullying, from a friend.  And then step lightly into the arena in which one's fashion calls attention to oneself.  I recommend an occasion for the Fun Party Shirt where the shirt itself is in attendance to honor the occasion or host.  This is how the Fun Party Shirt makes friends and spreads good cheer.  I believe sporting a Fun Party Shirt to dinner or a friend's birthday imparts special meaning to the event. Casual Friday at the workplace?  The Fun Party Shirt with jeans shouts "TGIF."  An unexpected Fun Party Shirt suggests that any day is going to be a good day.

And I believe in wearing a Fun Party Shirt to memorial services, though I'm not always brave enough to slip one on.  Memorials leave me inspired with better ways to live, communicate, and acknowledge the people around me.  Loved ones who've passed have lessons to impart, and that's cause for celebration for the rest of us; we live better for their having lived.  I wear my gratitude with optimism and resolve to appreciate all that I have.  The Fun Party Shirt declares I'm alive

But if the Fun Party Shirt doesn't feel right, isn't an extension of you, consider Fun Party Jewelry, or the Fun Party Tie.  Try Fun Party Shoes, too.  When in doubt, though, the Fun Party Smile suffices, because ultimately,  "it's what you wear from ear to ear, and not from head to toe, that matters."


Fashionista said...

Love it!

Samm said...

As an 18+ year resident of Las Vegas, I've seen more than my fair share of Fancy Party Shirts. Nary a Dakotan comes to Sin City without a sparky tee or ruffly blouse in her valise. (I think they might actually check your luggage when you land here just to make sure you have the appropriate attire).
As ridiculous as some FPS's are, I smile when I see people wearing them. You can sense which people normally would not. Some look a little uncomfortable, while others embrace their inner party girl and act a little sassy, exuding an inner confidence which they don't feel in their Cherokee perfect tees.

But I digress...

I say we should all feel a little sassy every day.

Let's stop salting away our FPS's for special occasions. Let's don those sparkly tops, set our tables with wedding Lenox and Waterford, and celebrate the shizzizle out of a Tuesday!

Betsy Noel said...

The remnants of my college wardrobe that have found their way into my adult closet are peppered with fun party shirts, inspired by my amazing big sis. A lot of them found their way to Goodwill recently, mostly because, though an outdated party shirt is certainly fun, showing your belly button at 27 is not.

fer said...

Sing it, Samm! I'm wearing sequins today. And Betsy, my navel is concealed :).

Ms. F said...

One thing I really miss about West Coast living is the color in people's wardrobes. Here in the NYC metro area, we certainly have our share of funky outfits on display, but we also seem to have a disproportionate number of frocks in grays and blacks...no fun! I'll have to make purchasing a bright-colored Fun Party Shirt a priority in my Spring wardrobe this year to bring a little Southern California to my East Coast life. Thanks for the inspiration!

Sarah said...

i love the line 'the textile version of a smile.' i had a pair of red pants that i wore for way too long that still thrill me when i think of them. your writing continues to be brilliant.