Don’t ask me to name five songs—it’s just a t-shirt

Debunking the elitism of band t-shirts

There doesn’t have to be a deep meaning for wearing a band tee.

I’ll never forget my first band t-shirt. I was an awkward thirteen-year-old in seventh grade wearing an extra-large Led Zeppelin shirt from Aeropostale paired with a pair of jeggings and low-rise Converse.

I was the epitome of fashion and sophistication, and I knew it.

I strolled my confident little self into the cafeteria that day, only to have the most popular girl in school ask, “What songs do you know on that album? I guarantee you’ve only ever heard ‘Stairway to Heaven.’”

While I’d been listening to and enjoying their music for a long time, I still wasn’t entirely sure if Led Zeppelin was a singer or the name of the band, and I was nothing close to being a loyal fangirl. The illusion of myself as a vogue icon was shattered.

Unfortunately, I’ve carried that petty interaction into my adult life.

Until recently, I would only wear my Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Rolling Stones merchandise in the safety of my own home—lest some malicious passerby stop and quiz me on any lyrics.

For years I’ve refrained from wearing merch from bands I’ve adored, even when I’m equipped to defend my knowledge of them.

Ever since that day in the seventh grade, I’ve been deeply concerned about what people would think if I choked and forgot five of a band’s songs upon interrogation. It’s been an act of self-preservation, sparked by the fear of judgment from those assuming I was just wearing their label for clout.

As thrifting and 2000s-inspired street style makes its way back into current fashion, oversized band t-shirts are becoming even more popular, especially with celebrities and influencers dressing them up with blazers and oversized jeans.

If Zendaya can wear a KISS 77 World Tour shirt with paparazzi swarming her and not face any consequences, I doubt any I’ll face repercussions for wearing a cute, oversized shirt with a picture of a band I don’t religiously listen to while walking across Queen’s campus.

Sometimes the shirt ties the whole outfit together, and we can’t let a few musical gatekeepers get us down.

Because listening to and loving music can be such a personal experience, it’s not a surprise that we get defensive when people use our favourite artists merely for a stylistic purpose—especially if you’ve had posters of them in your room since you were 10.

That being said, even if you can spot three people on one floor of Stauffer wearing the same ACDC shirt from Urban Outfitters, that really shouldn’t impact or jeopardize your own love for and loyalty to ACDC.

It’s okay to wear clothing that has the name of a band you’re not crazy about—you can just love the style or look of the shirt. If the unlikely situation presents itself, in which someone accosts me for my clothing choice, I’ve simply decided to smile and say my clothes make me feel confident—and that’s enough of a reason to wear them. 

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