NZ Music Day T-Shirt: How to Style a Band T-Shirt

This article was originally published last week. We’re reposting it because Friday is New Zealand Music T-Shirt Day.

As New Zealand entertainer and music champion Charlotte Ryan wrote last week, music and fashion are two unique forms of self-expression. And there’s no place where these outlets overlap more seamlessly than in the item used by generations to nail their flag to a musical and fashionable mast: the humble band t-shirt.

Timeless in style, it is one of those fashion items that seduce across tastes and generations. They can also be oddly controversial, with some expecting that to wear a band t-shirt you have to be a super fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of the band’s entire discography (aka “name five songs”).

Country music cheer, hardcore head banger or pop expert?  There's a tee for that.

Melody Jeng/Getty Images

Country music cheer, hardcore head banger or pop expert? There’s a tee for that.

As part of Te Marama Puoro OAotearoa Music Month in New Zealand, Friday 27th May is New Zealand Music T-Shirt Day, a chance to wear your support for bands and artists proudly on your chest places that provide the soundtracks of our lives.

Individuals, workplaces, whānau and social circles are encouraged to don their favorite band t-shirt and donate to the MusicHelps charity, which raises money for New Zealand music workers whose livelihoods continue to be precarious thanks to this pesky pandemic.

If you don’t already have a closet full of options to choose from, you can ensure that your spending goes directly to supporting your favorite muso by picking up gifts from the merchandise stand at the next concert you attend or by buying directly from their website. .

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Your friendly local independent record store can often be a gold mine for band merchandise with their endorsement.

If you fancy a rustle among the racks this weekend, there are plenty of authentically distressed band t-shirts on the racks of thrift stores across the motu. Keep in mind though that the money from your vintage sheet music won’t go back to the band, so don’t forget to donate to MusicHelps.

Once you’ve chosen a t-shirt that signals you’re part of the band, be sure to snap a photo to post on your social media using the hashtag #nzmusictshirtday and tagging @musichelpsnz.

Now all that’s left to do is figure out how to style it (read our tips below) and find the witty line you’ll use when a “true fan” asks you to name more than three songs from that group.

Six ways to style your band t-shirt

Pairing it with a leather jacket and jeans is classic, but there are other inventive ways to wear your favorite musical product. Stuff style editor Zoe Walker Ahwa shares some inspiration.

1) Elegant

Actress Cynthia Erivo’s sleek ensemble with a simple, streamlined maxi skirt is proof that band tees don’t always have to be rock ‘n’ roll casual.

2) Casual

For some, wearing products from California ska band Sublime is downright unforgivable, but model Devyn Garcia’s groovy tie-dye tee is a tongue-in-cheek style lesson. Points added for the brown puffer jacket, skater jeans and Van’s sneakers.

3) Cool

I don’t know who this person is, but I feel their vibration. A band tee doesn’t always have to be the focal point – it can also be a hidden bonus item for an effortlessly stylish look.

It’s also an example of how to bring merchandising – in this case, AC/DC – into a smart outfit that could work for more creative or casual offices. Combine it with a trendy jacket and a printed skirt, and you’re done.

4) Layered

This one’s easy: slip your favorite band tee under your favorite sleeveless dress, like stylist and influencer Veronika Heilbrunner’s Metallica merch. The emphasis is less on branding and more on overall appearance. You’re such a fan of the band that you don’t have to shout it.

5) Layers 2.0

Model and musician Angel Prost’s oversized Korn t-shirt, paired with a skirt, jeans, pearls and blouse, is for fans of fashion-forward t-shirts. The secret? The contrast of the nu metal typography with the pretty lace and the lavallière.

6) The classic

Sometimes you don’t have to do anything at all. See actress and It Girl Chloë Sevigny, circa 2002, letting her Norwegian black metal band Burzum do the talking.

Elizabeth J. Harless