by September 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm 1,817 1 Comment

From Candida Mannozzi. You can reach her at candida[AT]


Put it out there. (Candida Mannozzi)

With the summer (at least officially) coming to a close, I was thinking of the fact that soon our tank tops and T-shirts will disappear under hoodies, sweatshirts and other clothing, no longer “messaging” others as we circulate around town.

I have always associated the many different slogans, messages and other information we can see and read on people’s clothing as a typically American phenomenon. In Europe I grew up seeing the occasional (now more ubiquitous) brand logo or designer name on someone’s jacket, pants or T-shirt, although more than just fashion designers are now creating clothing items with their company logos branded on the front.

Still, I think the United States easily holds the record in the number and variety of messages you can see on someone’s apparel. I own a few that I’m particularly fond of, such as a T-shirt saying “I’m not lazy, I’m overflowing with potential energy” (a gift from a physicist). Another is a gift from a friend who teaches film at a university in California who, celebrating our penchant for foreign movies, sent me a T-shirt saying “Not afraid of subtitles” from the Laemmle Theaters.

My bookstore T-shirt used to say “Support Independent Bookstores; Friends Don’t Let Friends Buy Books in Chain Stores.” In the TV studio where I worked as Production Manager in the Czech Republic, we designed and wore T-shirts that read ‘”Don’t interrupt us, we’re shooting!” because so many of our interviews would be botched or interrupted by gawkers and curious passers-by who could not resist coming up to a TV crew whose logos were not those of the state-run television channels. Of course, as viewers became more used to tuning in to private TV stations, those kinds of incidents didn’t occur as often.

Apart from my rather modest personal collection, I do often recall and share with friends my sightings of particularly humorous or striking slogans. One was on a woman’s tank top which read: “Karma is a bitch only if you are,” another is a workout buddy’s shirt that reads (quite aptly for a government town like DC) “Department of Redundancy Department.”

Compared to most other cultures, Americans are said to wear their hearts on their sleeves. But I find they also like to tell you a whole lot about their preferences, beliefs, pet peeves, pride in their children, alma maters, political stances and workout attitudes on bumper stickers, yard signs, baseball caps, sweatshirts, you name it. We Europeans tend not to publicize much about ourselves in this way, reserving this information for discussions among friends, or similar occasions. This trend may well be slowly changing, as my annual trips home to Italy seem to reveal.

Borderstan, before they disappear under our winter clothes or the election season is over, what are some of your favorite slogans or zingers? Share, will you?

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