T-shirts for Cool Summer Cats

Summer is here and it's time to be cool! T-shirts are handy clothing items, but so often they're dull. But not anymore - here's a summer special for females who want to chuck out the roll necks and go short-sleeved with style.

T-shirts for Cool Summer CatsSummer’s here and the time is right - for wearing clothes that won't turn you into a human boil-in-the-bag!

Mod gear for the year’s warmest months can often prove a problem. When I was doing my fanzine, I was often asked by perplexed readers what I suggested for summer outfits – this is especially difficult for chaps, who feel, quite rightly in my opinion, that a suit is the ultimate, but just too hot for summer, and shorts are beyond the pale. I don’t know much in this area, but for girls, things are simpler. We have shift dresses to wear, which are fantastic on sultry days, where arms can be bared and legs can be freed. But the problem then is – to wear tights or not to wear tights or to wear fake tan! Because no-one wants to be swinging along the street and catch sight of their legs in a shop window and say ‘Oh, whose pasty whites are those?’ Dear-oh-dear.

T-shirts can come in handy, as can any nice short-sleeved top, which is probably a good way to proceed. Twinned with corduroy trousers or Farrahs, it’s a look that men and women can adopt. Knitted tops are fab, but it depends on whether or not you can find them in a charity/shrift/second-hand shop. They don’t make them like they used to. Now that the pickings are increasingly slim in the second hand field, I find myself more and more drawn to City Centre shops. You can go with simple, classic looks - for example, just a plain white T-shirt, if you're a rebel without a cause or a wild one. You'll have to choose between skinny fit or (I'm not sure what it's called, but for the sake of descriptiveness) 'baggy'. And that, my friend, will all depend on your own preferences and your physique - things you will have to decide for yourself. My other High Street finds are another story, but what I have discovered is that I don’t have to abandon my sense of style. It just means a subtle adaptation, blending the old with the new.

I adore Josh ‘Shag’ Agle’s artwork (check out the interview with him in the Culture section), and so when I saw the French Kitty T-shirts, I was bowled over! The designs are very much in the Shag mold, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the chic long-necked cats that populate his Lounge artwork. French Kitty is ‘very Audrey’ in a way, with its evocation of Parisian chic and late 50’s / early 60’s style. Check out the picture above – it’s just adorable. Although I found my French Kitty T-shirt in Yo-Yo (Ethel Street, Birmingham City Centre), there must be many more shops which sell them, and they’re also available to buy through lots of websites (there are some links below). There aren’t just T-shirts in the French Kitty range – there’s belts, skirts, tin lunchboxes, key-rings, an overnight kit (singlet and hotpants, toothbrush and flannel), a beach kit, socks, a bath mat and even a sculpture of the French Kitty herself. What more could you possibly want? It’s Hello Kitty for sophisticates.

If you’re looking for something more sinister, Fine, who are also responsible for giving us French Kitty, have a range called Scary Miss Mary. Miss Mary looks quite sweet with her big eyes and bobbed hair, but she has knives and poisons. The T-shirts emblazoned with Miss Mary’s image are black with a red trim around the neck, and I particularly like the ones with red and white stripy elbow-length sleeves.

Don’t forget Paul Frank’s designs, featuring Julius the Monkey. In a rather exciting turn of events, it just so happens that Paul Frank and Josh ‘Shag’ Agle have teamed up to bring you some very limited edition T-shirts and bags. They’re fantastic! Not to denigrate Mr Frank’s talents, though, his Julius the Monkey designs are rather cute as well.

If you’re not content with wandering about with cartoon-characters on your chest, why not go for a real person? There is a very good selection at movietshirt.com where you can choose from a vast number of famous faces to have on your T-shirt. The shirts themselves are very good quality, and there’s a choice of white skinny-fit or ordinary fit in various sizes and colours, and loads of different icons – choose from Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Sean Connery, Oliver Reed, Martin Luther King, Marlon Brando…. There’s also a selection of film posters that you can have on your T-shirt, and people from TV – even Hilda Ogden from Coronation Street. It’s different and because it’s bought over the Net, not available in the shops, everyone will ask you where you got it from and you will feel smug and cool! (these being my main aims in life).

So there you are - cool can be achieved when the sun shines blindingly in a cloudless sky and sunglasses must be worn at all times. There's more to T-shirts than a target.

© Helen Barrell 2002 - 2015
[Published 5 July 2002]
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About the author

Based in Birmingham, Helen edited Dansette fanzine for 4 years and wrote articles for other publications and websites. She is an avid collector of shoes and 50's and 60's cocktail curiosities. She attempts to mention Audrey Hepburn in every article she writes and bases her image on Anna Karina. She also has very big feet.

Helen wishes she could be a properly published novelist, having written her mod-spy novella 'Lament for a Trapped Spy' at 19. She's now working on a novel about a jazz singer, called 'The Mad Tin Rats', influenced by the art of Josh 'Shag' Agle.

More info and other articles by this authorMore about this author
Related info
Click here to visit the Movie T-shirt site.
Buy Paul Frank gear here.
Josh 'Shag' Agle meets Paul Frank - click here.
Click to buy French Kitty & Julius the Monkey
Click for French Kitty & Julius the Monkey.
Click here for Paul Frank's website
Click here for French Kitty & Scary Miss Mary
Click here for French Kitty socks!

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[Culture:Art & Design]

The world of Shag

That's the art of Josh 'Shag' Agle, the 'Easy' artist, whose paintings are talked about by hipsters everywhere 'from swingers' pads to supervillains hideouts, from the South of France to the North of Africa'.
Pip! Pip!feb 24 2003 5:16PM
Hopefully we will be designing a range of true collectable authentic t-shirts (all styles)
soonish, will keep you posted!
Helenfeb 24 2003 5:18AM
I mentioned Paul Frank purely because he'd teamed up with one of my favourite artists, Josh 'Shag' Agle. I'm not into the monkey myself, but I do love French Kitty, and will hopefully be presenting you with an article all about French Kitty, as it's delightful and it looks set to try for world domination. Oo-errr!
Nidafeb 19 2003 7:54PM
No offense, Helen, but that Paul Frank garbagio has got to go. It's overdone and tacky.
Helen the Editoraug 20 2002 5:39AM
thank you, chocoltae hat! The yumpop website is fantastic! I love the socks, and the character with the bobbed hair is really cute. Marvellous. By the way, your website is pretty good too.
chocolate hataug 18 2002 11:33PM
check out these shirts!
The Avengerjul 22 2002 8:30AM
Why not mention some hideous blue T-shirts for the men?
Helen the Editorjul 21 2002 11:56AM
Thanks for the report, Swerve64! It's such a shame that the Shag T-shirt for chaps is pants. Very disappointing - Switched on Gallery, sort your act out!

I tried looking for the Paul Frank/Shag T-shirt in Birmingham last week, but they must've sold out - none left. Hot damn diggitty dawg. Oh well, back to French Kitty, I suppose!
g uujul 20 2002 11:26AM
Course for real style, you can't the preppy, Ivy League look of a vintage Marks&Spencer wool t-shirt, the ones with the vertical stripes especially.
Built to last.
Swerve64jul 19 2002 4:51PM
Consumer Report: bought two shirts from Switched On Gallery - girl's shirt is great, but guy's Shag meets Paul Frank t was super-cheezy 50//50, design placed crookedly on the shirt, looks like it will fade with first wash. Buyer Beware - they don't give refunds!
WhiteRabbitjul 18 2002 3:48PM
No this isn't another plug, I actually found a really cute lavender gothic scooter girl shirt on ebay that you girls might find to be really cute as well.
The seller has them in different sizes and if that auction closes before you can get it you can see the person's ebay store or other auctions to get one. I just thought it was adorable!
g-uujul 18 2002 3:38PM
T-shirts? I've got some great retro 60's design t-shirts: one from Brum shop "Yo-Yo" and one from Cult Clothing(also in Brum, the style capital of the universe). Both t-shirts have 60's auto cars on them -Cult Clothing do cool 60's drag-racing shirts by FUCT, grrrreat!
ejul 18 2002 2:15PM
I think the Levi's 501s are a disgrace. Wide thighs, very high cut and really tight over the but. Not good.
Sharonjul 17 2002 5:45AM
I have a T-shirt that says "dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians", which I bought in Brighton. Last time I wore it, the Jehovah's Witnesses came to the door!
Helenjul 15 2002 9:08AM
No, Giles, no! Not the shorts and trainers! If they're nice trainers, but please be very careful with the shorts. Very careful indeed.
giles metcalfejul 12 2002 11:17AM
another big issue for me actually - i was hoping that someone would look at this from a bloke's POV...

for me, its got to be the classic Fred Perry shirt on top, 501s and desert boots, but when the temp. gets above 22 degrees its out with the shorts and trainers.
Joeljul 8 2002 7:40AM
I've got a brilliant "Masturbation Is Not A Crime" One", and another one that says "Its Not My Fault The Green Monkeys Eat People".

Quality, not quantity is my motto.
Welsh Pauljul 8 2002 6:32AM
I find the range of Super Furry Animal t-shirt gret. Good pop art designs on them and very unusual design :-)
Alos look in comic book stores, I 've got good sixties batman and robin t-shirt fom one of them !
isaac(ine?)jul 7 2002 7:15AM
this is especially difficult for chaps, who feel, quite rightly in my opinion

Sorry didn't realize...
David Steeljul 6 2002 6:50AM
Another good article Helen! A female friend of mine bought a great 'Red Or Dead' t-shirt the other week; 'Red Or Dead' written in the style of the early-70's 'Top Of The Pops' logo (that neony looking one) red/blue on black - all for £20! Looks cool with cords or dark blue jeans. Cheers! David.
Beatchikjul 5 2002 11:14AM
make your own t's, girls! modify store-bought shirts by painting your own logo, change the sleeves, whatever you like -- when others ask where you got it, you can either tell the truth or say, "i think this is the one I picked up in Japan, but I'm not sure"
Helen the Editorjul 5 2002 8:27AM
Strangely enough, Isaac (strange name for a girl, but anyway...), I'm going to do an article about stripey tops in the near future.
isaacjul 5 2002 7:32AM
Don't care much about print T-shirts myself , i must say...
Striped T-shirts rule!
The Gruesomes rule!

Er, can you wear a Fuzztones T-shirt at a mod do?...
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