T-Shirts Are Everywhere Saying Everything

I am sitting in the food court of a very busy shopping mall on a Saturday with a pad of paper. What am I doing? Counting how many people are wearing t-shirts, what kind of t-shirt they’re wearing, and about how old they are. This is my 4th Saturday conducting this survey at 4 different malls.

Before I began doing this “t-shirt survey” at the malls here in Dallas, I was expecting about 30-35% of the people would be wearing a t-shirt. Was I ever wrong. I had no idea just how popular t-shirts actually are.

First, who is wearing t-shirts? I counted a total of about 4,000 people over 4 weeks in this survey. In total, about 60-65% were wearing t-shirts – twice my expectations! There was a variance in the age groups. For those under 25-years-old, about 80-85% wore t-shirts. For those 25 to 40 years old, about 60% wore t-shirts. And, for those over 40, about 35% wore t-shirts.

While I expected the younger crowd to be wearing tshirts, what I was not expecting were those ages 35 – 50 wearing them. These are mostly parents, business people, and maybe a couple grandparents. Most of their tshirts were sports or college tshirts, or a brand name like Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, or Polo – nothing crude of obnoxious.

Second, what kind of t-shirts were they wearing? I rarely saw the same t-shirt twice. There were funny t-shirts, animal t-shirts, Christian t-shirts, patriotic t-shirts, and all kinds of novelty t-shirts. And, I wasn’t surprised to see a few crude or offensive ones in the mix either.

Younger kids, those between 5 and 12-years-old, wore a lot of tshirts. That age bracket was closer to 90%. Most of them had some kind of “cute” picture or slogan (like a Disney tshirt), or something to do with sports. Most teenagers and college students wore tshirts that seem to match up closely with their identity.

More than anything, it became apparent that wearing a tshirt is a way to express oneself. Whether supporting a sports team, a university, or country, people wear tshirts to express themselves and make a statement. But, some people wear them just because it looks good, it’s trendy, and they’re comfortable. The t-shirt industry is a huge business. While I don’t have the exact statistics, it made up 60% of the tops worn at the shopping malls around Dallas, TX over the last 4 weeks.

After arriving back home, what did I do? I went to my dresser, opened the drawer, and counted about 25 t-shirts of my own. I put on my alma mater tshirt and sat down to watch the baseball playoffs.