As regular readers know by now, I’m not a huge fan of novelty anything! As previous posts have made clear, novelty tees, ties and underwear make an otherwise sane, stylish guy look needlessly dreadful.

Although some people try their hardest to deny the influence of fashion in society, clothing is an external expression of ones inner self. Ironically, the detractors of this philosophy are its greatest example of the theory in action (i.e. those who say, “I don’t care about fashion” dress exactly like they don’t care about their appearance – what a confident style statement!).

Now, think about what the novelty shirt says about the inner you. You’re thinking the hilarious wordplay and primetime cartoon characters are expressing a love of humor and your fun-lovin’ personality. In fact, what it’s actually saying is, “I desperately want you to think of me as a fun guy – the class clown – the dude who you can enjoy a joke with”, and we ALL know what that person is like, don’t we…?

Sorry all you ‘novelty’ lovers out there. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy a joke-y sweater at Christmas or a pair of silly socks at the weekend – but do you honestly want to express your passion for tabloid comics with your co-workers? Does everyone in the supermarket urgently need to know ‘you’re with stupid’?

“…but I don’t wanna’ wear drab ties and plain white T-shirts!?!”

Novelty ShirtsWho said anything about doing that? If you still want to be playful with fashion without dressing like your eight year old nieces and nephews, why not try a close relative of the ‘novelty’ garment, such as the ‘graphic tee’.

Rather than baulking in terror that “Mr. Thinks-He-Is-A-Comedy-Saint” is on his way, people will see the graphic tee for what it is: a lighthearted, stylish piece of clothing that may (or may not) have humorous intent behind it.

“But what’s the difference?”

A novelty item will generally have one or more of the following attributes:

  • a wacky cartoon character
  • a modified company logo (with ‘humorous’ intent)
  • a ‘hilarious’ catchphrase or an ‘obvious’ joke
  • a celebrity or TV personality
  • an ‘over-the-top’ design or pattern

…whereas, a ‘graphic’ is defined by …

  • a subtle, but unique style
  • an intelligent approach to design
  • its playful or abstract nature
  • a lack of common novelty attributes (see above)
  • its clever detailing you wouldn’t get with more generic products

Ultimately what I’m trying to say in this article is, ‘beware the novelty garment’ because, when all is said and done, it does no style favors for anyone.

About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.

3 Responses

  1. Topics about Comics » Archive » Novelty Garments (And Their Often Misunderstood Cousins)

    […] Guy Style Guide added an interesting post today on Novelty Garments (And Their Often Misunderstood Cousins)Here’s a small readingAs regular readers know by now, I’m not a huge fan of novelty anything! As previous posts have made clear, novelty tees, ties and underwear make an otherwise sane, stylish guy look needlessly dreadful. Although some people try their hardest to deny the influence of fashion in society, clothing is an external expression of ones inner self. Ironically, the detractors of this philosophy are its greatest example of the theory in action (i.e. those who say, “I don’t care about fashion” dr […]

  2. Fashion » Blog Archive » Novelty Garments (And Their Often Misunderstood Cousins)

    […] Guy Style Guide placed an observative post today on Novelty Garments (And Their Often Misunderstood Cousins)Here’s a quick excerptAlthough some people try their hardest to deny the influence of fashion in society, clothing is an external expression of ones inner self….If you still want to be playful with fashion without dressing like your eight year old nieces and nephews, why not try a close relative of the ‘n… […]