Trinity Term 2019: Getting your shirt together

As the incandescent sun radiates over Oxford’s dreaming spires, Trinity term reminds all of us vitamin D-deprived, library recluses of what is good in the world.

We delight at the prospect of garden parties; resplendent black and white tie balls; and champagne (or, perhaps more realistically, Prosecco) with chocolate-coated strawberries on a serene punt. Indeed, Trinity (or ‘Trinifree’ as some fortunate souls have the pleasure of calling it) is the zenith of the Oxford experience. However, Trinity is not without its flaws- the impending menace of preliminary exams lingers. The saccharine aroma of Christchurch Meadows’ flowers is tainted by the repulsive evil of getting older. Freshers becoming expired freshers; second years becoming finalists and finalists becoming pensioners. To add to each of these tribulations, is one so great that seeing its presence in Oxford’s population of strapping young men has given me the obligation of enlightening the university on the subject. Short. Sleeved. Shirts.

Let us begin our saga of this grotesque insurgence with the prime suspect of propelling this unsightly craze into the limelight: Ryan Gosling. Heart-throb and actor, this man has a responsibility to serve as a fashion role model to those younger men who hope to rapidly pursue in his successful footsteps. Instead, Gosling has become a serial offender of the short- sleeved shirt; a look that isn’t doing it for him. Courting the look as his (unwanted) guest to the Cannes Film Festival in 2014, Gosling took a foolish step into beguiling young men around the globe into the belief that assuming the attire of a 1960s-office worker was a suave move. Here’s the thing: it wasn’t.

Having pedantically observed men in the prime of their life succumbing to the fabricated ideology that what is practical must, therefore, be fashionable, it is high time that this got a dressing down. Be you a beefy or streaky rasher of bacon, trust me when I say that no body shape will be flattered by the short sleeve shirt. Brawny men look perpetually pent up with an all-consuming rage clad in the style of a ten-year-old schoolboy amid a tantrum. Meanwhile, thin fellows assume the stance of a high school science teacher in a long term relationship with the photocopier two doors down. Neither of which, let me assure you, is a very flattering look.

Short sleeved shirts have been hailed as the vintage throwback to an era defined by an aura of cool practicality, the 1960s. Physically refreshing in the summer and comfortably occupying a no-mans-land between casual and formal, similar to an awkward advertising executive; the shirt said all the right things but didn’t quite make the right moves. The shirt ingratiatingly disappointed expectations where men’s fashion had seldom put a foot out of place before. Men in the preceding decades maintained a refined, unapproachable sense of decorum and Cary Grant-like cognition in their tailored suits and double-breasted respectability. However, the short sleeved shirt introduced an excuse for men around the world to abandon their prior standards of propriety in the tragic name of comfort.

“Be you a beefy or streaky rasher of bacon, trust me when I say that no body shape will be flattered by the short sleeve shirt.”

I often question how far the mighty can fall to wearing short sleeved shirts. Frequent sightings of impeccably well-maintained man, Chris Pine, in miniscule short sleeved shirts inspires an inherent need to send him straight to space in one of his intergalactic Star Trek spacecrafts. As to the worrying epidemic of Hawaiian style short sleeved shirts, you, my dear nemeses, are no exception. Recently polluting the pages of respected fashion classics, including Vogue, as early as March this year, the short- sleeved shirts are rearing their ugly heads once again. Like many a fashion faux pas of their period (think flower power shirts, spearpoint collar shirts, Breton T-shirts), the short sleeve shirt deserves an infinite amount of time and space to reconcile itself to the mortification it has wreaked upon the fashion world. Instead, several contemporary brands like Tombolo are insistent upon resurrecting the assemblage. Founders of the new line, Michael Sard and Chris Galasso, have honourably endeavoured to salvage the ruins of the style’s reputation in their defence that, “There’s this wild, culturally diverse mix, and it evolved so much.”

But it seems impossible for some young men to separate the laudable beach party outfit from that which is deemed to be real fashion. Frequently, few but the cynical can discern that the only acceptable time to permit the serving of the amorphous assemblage is with a side of a well-toned six-pack to detract from having to observe the offending garment. Lesson for today: unless it is well covered or overly exposed, I implore you never to allow the short sleeved shirt to enter and disrupt your fashion life. Wearing such an unprepossessing garment above the age of fourteen will go one of two ways: a nostalgic regression to 1980s drama detective, Magnum P.I. (see below) or a 1986 pre-Rambo Sylvester Stallone teenage pinup from ‘Bravo’ magazine. Needless to say, in 2019, these are not the most engaging of looks.

Numerous articles have attempted to discuss the ‘solution’ to the short sleeved shirt. I believe I have found an answer to their quandary: there is no solution. Difficult as it is, some men must learn to abandon their child-like attitude (in many things, of course, but especially) towards short-sleeve shirts. Just roll up your sleeves. It might actually surprise you and produce the rough and ready 'man of the people’ look that you’ve been searching for. So, roll back those sleeves, grin and bear it and, for this term at least, get your shirt together.

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