It was a grim and rainy Saturday when I packed up my apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to join the legions of hip and relevant yuppies in Brooklyn. On a map, the change represented a linear distance of only a few miles but in the city that might as well mean different counties. The path I was to tread was filled with obstacles including limited curbside parking, closed bridges, subway changes and a far-off Uhaul outpost, but none were so great as the five flights of twisting stairs through which all of my belongings had to be shuffled.
I started the day wearing Outdoor Voices’s Merino Tee. I had been turned onto the athleisure brand by its Doing Things Tee, which I’ve been told — many hugs after I got it — is the softest shirt I’ve ever worn. I love merino wool anything, so it seemed like a solid bet that Outdoor Voices could pull off a quality t-shirt using nothing but the all-natural, quick drying, anti-stink material. Yes, the Merino Tee is 100% merino wool, which is, I suppose, to be expected.
I’d estimate the number of laps that it took me to move the contents of my less-than-400-square-foot home up and down the stairs to be less than ten but more than five (with some friendly help). The climatic change that occurred between the apartment and the Uhaul’s parking space was that of a desert and a bog. The indoor struggle produced a quantifiable volume of sweat that was then lightly washed away in the rain outside. Lather, rinse, repeat.
By the end of the ordeal, the new Brooklyn apartment was filled but not quite furnished, and I had dropped off the rented van and returned by bike. My shirt was neutrally damp when I tossed it on the floor for the evening and settled into a buffalo chicken pizza and bed. When I woke the next morning, rather than face the trial of unpacking a suitcase, I opted for the sniff test. The Merino Tee was dry, and it smelled fine.
I went through Sunday’s business as usual, waiting to see if my girlfriend would notice that I was still wearing the same sandstone-colored t-shirt as the day before. She didn’t, and when Monday morning dawned and a quick survey of the t-shirt’s smell produced positive results for a second time, a personal challenge developed in my mind.
I continued to wear the t-shirt for the entire week, covering it with various flannels and sweatshirts so as not to throw-off my friends and coworkers to the degenerate game I was playing. “I am conducting an experiment,” I told myself (“Think of the savings on laundry!” I exclaimed inwardly).
One week easily turned into two, and I had still not changed or washed my shirt. By this point, my girlfriend was sharp to the game, but my coworkers were not — or if they were, they had refrained from comment. At the end of week two, I wondered if I had proven my point. The Merino Tee certainly had — it never betrayed me with any wafting aromas, never became itchy, never appeared dirty.
I remember a time years ago when I was exploring New Zealand’s Southern Alps by foot, and for three weeks straight I had worn the same merino wool baselayer, without removing it at night. I had been hiking every day and apart from the occasional river crossing and intentional dunk, had not bathed at all. Those leggings did eventually develop a smell — not a stink, but a smell — and I continued to wear them out of the necessity for warmth in the cold.
A t-shirt is different though; it’s the most essential of basic daily apparel. A plain t-shirt can speak measures or say nothing at all, transitioning between everyday necessity and conscious style choice. Finding a great t-shirt is like finding a good friend, and a friend who will stick around with you for two weeks nonstop without making a mess of the place is someone to keep around. I stopped wearing my Merino Tee every day at some point during my third week, thinking that I could use a change of pace and that those around me could use a change of scenery. It still doesn’t smell though, and I still haven’t washed it.
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