Almanac Fashion: A Bit Shirty

If T-shirt wearing was an Olympic sport (sports climbing is, so it must be the next cab off the rank), I’d be expecting a visit from Julia Zemiro quite soon. I can picture us now as we zip along Bridge Road, Para Hills in a red 3-on-the-floor TD Cortina with a taupe vinyl roof, en route to Enterprise Road, Elizabeth East before some wistful reminiscences from the brutalist grandstand at Goodman Road, as we gazed out across the vastness of the Adelaide Plains …


Where was I?


I have two broad uses for Ts, daytime and bedtime. Over time, a daytime T may become a bedtime T, but rarely does this work the other way. There is a third classification, the keepsake T. This is usually a bedtime T that for waistlinical reasons remains in the bottom of the nighttime bottom drawer, just in case I eventually pen an article on T-shirts and their associated memories.


A riffle through my drawers (and the ironing basket) reveals a broad taxonomy of Ts.



The Music Ones


My first music related T was a Skyhooks D-I-Y job, created by the wonders of iron-on printing technology. It wasn’t the rubbery, prone to eventual flakiness type, and the ink genuinely bonded with the probably synthetic fibre to look like a bought one.



My oldest T still in service was purchased at my only visit to the St George Leagues Club, in August 1990. I took in a rollicking gig by Canadian power-poppers The Pursuit Of Happiness, supported by the Falling Joys (who were a marked improvement on the Adelaide support band, Musician Union Support). What was once fashionably black with bold white printing has taken on a gossamer thin appearance, so faded that it could be used as the template for an anonymous away strip. I loved TPOH and the shirt reminds me of the fact that I ended  up slinking into my new employer’s North Sydney offices sometime before lunch for the training course that I was up north for. I may have been an adult now, but I marvel at how childishly irresponsible I was. Thirty years later the shirt still covers enough of my top half to do the job in the bedroom (unlike its owner). Bedtime.



From a similar era is that day-glo B52s T, unfortunately unwearable due to a couple of moth holes in the midriff. It may not survive the next walk-in cull. Keepsake (just)


Two more recent acquisitions both display the late 70s knock-kneed version of Elvis Costello, a perennial fave of mine. My best ever EC T was purchased in the late 70s and featured his bespectacled mug at about 3x actual size which was quite frightening in hindsight. Daytime.


Billy Bragg only appears once on a T that celebrates his Woody Guthrie tour in 2012, where I saw the great man from a back row limited viewing seat at Adelaide Town Hall while I was on FIFO tour of duty in my home town. Daytime.


A couple of Rockwiz shirts get a regular airing, the one with the Ian McCausland print from the Myer Music Bowl celebration attracts comment a decade down the track. Daytime


My Beatles prints, two of which were from the days that I could afford Ben Sherman, elicit knowing nods from young and old alike. I’m a bit ashamed about the other one that I bought from Target, but it is very comfy. Daytime



Dominating the daytime bottom drawer is my gabba gabba of Ramones Ts. The Roberta Bayley up-against-the-wall shot (a black Fruit of the Loom) from the cover of their debut album is the best. The rest are an assortment of colours and prints of dubious licensing provenance. All of them represent my refusal to move on from my early adulthood, or as they once recorded “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”. Daytime.


My most recent purchase was The Aints one, from my one and only visit to the old Caravan Club premises adjacent Warrawee Park. Daytime.


My final word on this classification comes from the Wonder Stuff, which is proudly emblazoned with the word IDIOT. I should’ve worn it on Rockwiz. Bedtime.


The Sport Ones



A constant reminder of the receding 90s glory days are my pair of Crows premiership Ts. I also once snapped up a faux heritage one with a garish emblem in, wait for it, bright red flock/velour. Adelaide can go and get flocked for all I care. Keepsakes (why?)



Remember the 2006 Commonwealth Games? Melbourne Sports Depot went under, partially due to not enough of you lot out there, buying merch like this. Keepsake(?)


My next lot is a sport/travel hybrid of baseball related Ts, from the Giants, Dodgers and Yankees. Top quality, the lot of them. I never did get around to getting that Nick Swisher Cleveland top. Daytime.


Closer to home, I’m a proud and regular wearer of my Footy Almanac Haiku Bob goalposts number, as designed by Chris Rees. Daytime.


What SANFL loving geriatric’s summer wardrobe would be complete without two of the Chris Rees Footy Enigmas range? My Sonny Morey (in Norsworthy Blue) and Grenville Dietrich (in Pizza Burn Red) never fail to raise a chuckle and a sigh. Daytime.



I recently chucked on my Footy Park Modra scoreboard T (from Mike Hugo’s Footy Places range) before meeting the gorgeous Gilbert McAdam. Daytime.


Further Hugo niche designs that can be seen on my sunken chest/swollen belly on a Centre Road Bentleigh stroll are the Elizabeth Oval street map and my favourite, the Ponderosa grandstand (complete with Elizabeth Town Centre clock in the background). Daytime. Often.



One final Hugo design that didn’t meet universal approval at home was the SANFL grounds templates. Bedtime.



Wrapping up the sporting highlights is this terrific trifecta – my personalised 1986 AUFC Sty Council T which is a few hundred denier thicker than my 1982 Chocka Block. Keepsake. Fast forward to this decade, where  #BOBNEIL doesn’t seem to resonate this side of Bordertown. Daytime.


The Travel Ones


Nowadays travel means the 64 tram, but I wish I still had my cracking Covent Garden 87, from you guessed it, Covent Garden in 1987.

I’ve spent all of two hours in Byron Bay, but that was ample time to grab a souvenir of that wonderful 2010 lunchtime. Sadly, the collar has gone a bit saggy. Bedtime.



I spent even less time Bondi Beach when we took our German exchange student for her first ever visit to a beach. Naturally I picked out a T decked out with over a dozen assorted surf boards, even though I’ve never so much as stood on one. Ever. Daytime.


Disneyland was a while ago now, but I’ve still got the grey Dad-suitable Mickey Mouse that remains as comfortable as the day it was purchased. Daytime.


My Buffalo Dad one was a gift from daughter #1 from her uni exchange days. It serves to remind me that she once thought that I was a size Medium. Bless. Bedtime.


Mrs Swish once bought me a Coopers’ T from an Adelaide Airport gift shop. Bedtime.


The Entertainment Ones



I suppose that I’ll drag out my Merry Clarkmas T for the festive season again, but I’ll probably watch Xmas Vacation in the nuddy for some variation this time. Bedtime


Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python big foot animation made it onto a Target T a few years back. It’s not quite an ex-shirt, but it wouldn’t voom etc etc. Bedtime.


We’ve all got a T-shirted skeleton in the closet. Mine’s wearing a Summer Heights High “Tsunamarama”. Bedtime.


The Work Ones


In 1992, I was rewarded with a work trip to Oracle HQ in Redwood Shores (nr SF). I’ve kept the green T. Bedtime.


I once got sucked in by one of those online printing mobs to generate a T for my business. If I ever forget what my old phone number was, it’s there for all to see. Bedtime.


The Half Dressed Woman as Designed By A Current AFL Player Ones


You’re kidding mate.


The Plain Ones


Life’s too short.


So that’s my wardrobe exposed. Not really that Olympic is it, unless your name is Putin. Tell us about yours. Ping me a photo if you like and I’ll add it to this piece.


Disclaimer: Apart from wearing them, I’m not on the take from anyone associated with any of the above clothing ranges. Think about it, who’d want anyone to know that I wore their stuff anyway?



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About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Nice wardrobe Swish. I think everyone has had a Ramones T-shirt once in their lifetime. I think I left mine behind in a Hostel in Galway in 1987.

    Don’t quite understand the night time T-shirt. Do some people wear clothing to bed?

  2. Colin Ritchie says

    Fantastic Swish! I have dozens and dozens of t-shirts I’ve collected over many, many years, some well worn & tattered, others in pristine condition. Some are worn often, others rarely or not at all. Having just downsized into town my wife tried to convince me to cull many of my t-shirts which I refused to do. I have a feeling they will be first to go if I pre-decease her!

  3. Swish, I’m ashamed to say you beat me hands down on the subject of T-shirt ownership. However I do remember loving a Batman T-shirt I immensely enjoyed wearing until it eventually fell to pieces.

  4. Excellent stuff Swish. Keep nurturing your Outer Child. A quick reconnaissance in the dark end of the wardrobe revealed only 2 Springsteens and 1 Beatles (2 knockoffs & 1 genuine). Friends bought me an “Australian Ironman Championships” T as a thank you after I helped them out at Port Macquarie in May. Filed away under “frankly ridiculous”.

  5. Excellent! I’m eager to encourage your t-shirt collection, Swish, because then I can feel better about continuing to add to my wardrobes and drawers already overflowing with the darn things. No doubt Chris Rees and Mike Hugo have a wing of their mansions named in our honour, such is the lucrative life of a designer…

  6. Thanks for slipping me into the call of the card (gone too early and then hopelessly boxed on the turn). My house is the like VFA – no wings but its still a high flyer. But the three laundry baskets are named for you Swish, you Dave Brown and Robert Helpmann.

  7. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Love it Swish.
    How can you go wrong with a combination of the B52s and Clark Griswold ?

  8. Mark Duffett says

    Very jealous, Swish. Between work office sensibilities and climatic considerations, my t-shirts are worn more as undergarments, so they tend to fall apart before getting full aesthetic value like you have. Yours are remarkably well preserved. Nevertheless I’ve been inspired to revisit the wares of Messrs Hugo & Rees, to relieve Sonny Morey who to keep him looking tip-top is only brought out on special occasions…

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks everyone. I’m glad to have got that off my chest.

  10. John Butler says

    Had you pegged as a man of taste and distinction. Still deciding which way this piece confirms.

    I have a black Sun Records T (yellow symbol), that, despite the Richmond connotations, remains an absolute go-to. Also a Phillips Recording Services one (Sam’s business name before Sun).

    Sadly, I don’t fit a lot of my old T’s now. Many have bitten the dust. One that I cling to is a Radio Birdman (from their first reunion tour – there have been numerous since).

    Very glad to see TPOH get a mention. Now forgotten, but a very enjoyable live band.

    Surprisingly, I don’t think I’ve ever owned a Ramones T. Now everyone wears one. Even babies. Make of that what you will.

  11. Well played, Swish.
    Like yourself, I am a t-shirt collector and appreciator.
    But unfortunately, Mrs Smokie has placed an embargo on me purchasing any further tees until I divest myself of some existing ones.

  12. Do we need to start a #FreeSmokie campaign?

  13. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Smokie/JB, online correspondent Rob McLean told me yesterday that he has about 400 of them. On that basis you might be able to negotiate your way up to a couple of hundred. #freesmokie

  14. Earl O'Neill says

    Cool selection. That Crows shirt is a neat design.
    Re-opens an old wound, the disappearance of the bag full of treasured old t-shirts and jeans in the last house move. Included a Phantom (Ghost Who Walks) T I bought in 1984 that was still in reasonable nick, stacks of music, hotrod and supercoloured Ts and a pair of jeans that were tight when I weighed 130lbs.
    Goddamned ingrates could have pinched a bag of work clothes….

  15. Luke Reynolds says

    Swish, love that you have have a “Tsunamarama” T in your private collection. Got a dictation one??

  16. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    That’s Falken unlucky Earl.

    Even I knew where to draw the line Luke

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