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In Defense of…Tall Tees

The Urban Dictionary says a tall tee is “a long T-Shirt that goes down to someone's knees, and commonly worn by people into hip hop culture.” Skiers are into hip-hop, so what’s wrong with them sporting tall tees?

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Before Tanner went rastafari, he turned ganster. Suddenly tall tees showed up everywhere from the Colorado jib scene to the backcountry booters in Montana. Backcountry skiers, big-mountain athletes, and weekend warriors all shunned the advent of the newest ski fashion. Magazines, ski forums, and hippies took turns poking fun at the absurdity of a cotton t-shirt that looks like a dress. But the jibbers kept sliding rails and pushing the identity of the new wave of freeskiing. 

The tall tee debacle finally caught my attention the other night. I show up to the Level 1 premiere and immediately feel out of place. Nike high tops and a rainbow assortment of tall tees decorate the crowd. The scene resembles Halloween, but in a strictly Rainbow Brite kind of way. I am in sandals, jeans, and a sweatshirt; I feel old and boring. I’m even sporting a fedora, but it isn’t a tall tee. The movie starts and for a second I forget about how visibly I stand out from the crowd. But seconds into the film I am reminded again: Everyone on screen is wearing a tall tee, too.

These way-past-your-knees t-shirts contain some element of danger—you could catch your t-shirt on the toe piece of your bindings or snag it on a nearby tree limb. But going out into the backcountry can be sketchy too. Tall tees are made of cotton, which means functionality might decrease during a wet winter storm. But who cares if you are wearing cotton to a movie premiere or out jibbing in the spring? The hip-hop army is just a collection of skiers and their community happens to identify a member by appearance, just like most other groups in society. The tall tee is a beacon of appreciation for what we all love: skiing.