Replica shirts

Castoff t-shirts dress you with love

If you are a rather young person who thinks about the question of children, yes or no? — let me touch on a point that is often overlooked.

One day, your children will dress you.

I don’t mean figuratively, with love and affection, or even sticky toddler kisses. I mean literal clothes.

I work from home (and have for 30 years, which makes the whole debate about going back to the office weird and confusing to me, because – why the hell would you?) Anyway, because I works from home, my everyday wardrobe is, uh, relaxed.

As in, casual jeans and t-shirts. Hoodies in autumn, winter and spring. (Note: There’s nothing on earth quite as comfy as an oversized hoodie. Take that, fisherman’s sweaters, and other high-priced catalog items.)

As I was taking clothes out of the dryer the other day, I noticed a strange thing. I hadn’t paid for any of the shirts I was folding. (And not because I’m a hardcore shoplifter.)

Of my three children, there have been (so far!) four colleges, two towns (and a small college town), six majors, and five summers of expensive college-affiliated dance programs. And every time you turn around at college – any college – someone hands you a free t-shirt.

(I’m using the term “free” a little loosely here. These clothes are free the same way the washing machines in the dorms are “free”. The same way seconds at the all-you-can-eat taco bar in the cafeteria are “free”. Anyway.)

“Are you getting rid of it?” I asked my eldest daughter a few years ago when she was sorting her clothes into ‘keep’ and ‘give away’ piles. I picked up one of his college T-shirts. It was soft and cozy and oversized.

“Yeah. I don’t really like that one,” she said. “Do you want it?”

Did I want it? Finding a T-shirt like this was like finding a folded $50 bill in an old book.

” Of course I want it. What else do you have?”

So began my second college wardrobe – the first dates back to the 1980s. My new look consists of clothes announcing events like “Spring Fling 2014!” “Rams Football Spirit Week!” and “International Summer Dance 2017”.

Somehow wearing these shirts (even if it’s a bottom layer where no one can see them) gives me a little satisfaction that we’re still getting our tuition money’s worth from the last decade. (Yes, it was tens of thousands of dollars, some of which we still owe — but look! I got a free T-shirt!) It’s like scraping the last bit of peanut butter out of the jar and knowing that you haven’t wasted any.

But there is more. College shirts keep my kids with me, in a way. Yes, they live in three different states, none of which is Pennsylvania. And no, I don’t see any as often as I would like.

Maybe they dress me in love and affection after all. Or maybe just old T-shirts. Is there really a difference?

Charlotte is a columnist for The Times. You can reach her at [email protected]