Wildwood is a town where fashion is important.
Hear me out. Wildwood fashion may be trashy, but the boardwalk is a place to be seen. It may be a place to be seen in your “I’d flex but I like this shirt” or “LOL @ your swag” t-shirt, but that doesn’t change that people preen for the boardwalk. They care about what they wear.
Recently, Wildwood has been in the news for its proposed boardwalk dress code. It requires footwear, t-shirts from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. and, most notably, a ban on pants “worn more than three inches below the wearer’s waist.”
“I’m sick of hearing people complain about the disrespectful individuals who walk around with their butts hanging out,” Wildwood mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. said, one of the more hilarious politician quotes in recent memory. “Pass this law so old people stop calling my office and bothering me!” The whole idea, he told the Inquirer‘s Karen Heller, is to class up the town. “Some people think anything goes in Wildwood,” Troiano said of the law, which will be up for vote on June 12. “Well, it doesn’t.” One can only imagine the Pants Height Patrol stationed with tape measures at 26th Street, the border with North Wildwood.
I traveled to Wildwood over the weekend, hoping to catch some droopy pants-wearers in the act. This is the height of senior week season and if anyone dresses stupidly, it’s teenagers! I spotted a lot of stupid drunken behavior and hilarious teen mating rituals, but I only saw one kid wearing droopy pants. When I saw him in front of me, he immediately pulled them up. I’m sure more baggy pants-wearers exist, but I didn’t see they were much of a problem.
But since the idea of the baggy pants ban is officially an attempt to spruce up Wildwood, I thought I’d take a look at the boardwalk fashion trends of 2013. Last year, I chronicled the nine types of shirts you can find on the Wildwood boardwalk. Things have changed a lot: YOLO, swag and even ill have fallen out of favor. Justin Bieber is out. One Direction t-shirts are hanging strong, but even their numbers have diminished.
After extensive research (i.e., walking up and down the boardwalk while eating Sam’s Pizza), I have come up with the 10 top t-shirts from the Wildwood boardwalk in 2013.
I Party with Jay Gatsby
If you’re simply looking for the funniest Wildwood boardwalk t-shirt of 2013, you can stop reading. This is it, and I can’t imagine anything the rest of the summer will top it. Yes, the people buying these shirts appear to have misread The Great Gatsby—and anyway, the people at Gatsby’s parties barely got to see him!—but what are you going to do? Maybe the shirt-wearers plan on driving their car into a ditch and washing their hands of it like Owl Eyes does. Wait, that’s much worse.
Mickey Mouse Hands
This is the most baffling part of the Wildwood boardwalk, 2013: The most common shirts, by far, incorporate Mickey Mouse hands. What’s weird is, there isn’t any precedent for it, no recent Mickey film or TV series that would inspire the incalculable number of Mickey hands shirts for sale on the boardwalk. Why now, and not sooner? I figured these shirts started off as bootlegs of real Disney merchandise, but nope: Disney doesn’t sell t-shirts with Mickey hands on them, only giant plush hands you can actually wear (as seen in this video).
And look at all the variations! There are two different t-shirts where Mickey is throwing up the Roc-A-Fella/Illuminati/Diamond Cutter hand gesture. Mickey’s hands are even lighting a joint! Buy them quick, kids, Disney can’t possibly let this continue.
Of course, that’s not the only Disney thing inexplicably making waves in Wildwood this summer …
Okay, wait, this is more baffling. Mickey Mouse is by now a timeless character, but The Lion King isn’t quite at his level. There was a 3-D film re-release, but that came out in the autumn of 2011, and the musical has been chugging along since 1997. Yet this shirt—a Swahili phrase that “means no worries” featured in a song in the film and play—is big enough to have its own “get wasted” parody shirt. The kids graduating high school this year were not even alive when The Lion King first came out! Is a “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” t-shirt on the horizon?
There’s never a shortage of alcohol and drug t-shirts on the boardwalk, but weed t-shirts are front and center at many Wildwood shops this year. It makes sense: With two states legalizing marijuana outright this year, acceptance of pot hasn’t been this high since the 1970s. Yes, that’s Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse sharing a joint. And, check it: That edited Rolling Stones logo licking a joint? It’s being held by Mickey hands!
And then there’s molly. It wasn’t that long ago that the slang for MDMA was ecstasy. Molly was MDMA in power form that wasn’t cut with something dangerous. But in the last few years—and popularized even more by Trinidad James’ “All Gold Everything,” source of the “Popped a Molly I’m sweatin, woo!” line—molly has become the preferred nomenclature for all ecstasy. Eh, I liked the old name better. Yes, that’s Marilyn Monroe with molly-related tattoos. I flagged bootleg Marilyn t-shirts last year, but they are everywhere in 2013. They are in the early running for the Most Improved Player award this summer season.
Twerking is the dance move popularized by Drake, Diplo, French Montana and others. (It’s most likely a portmanteau of The Twist and The Jerk.) I don’t have much to say about this, except that I saw a group of 15 teenagers walking down the boardwalk, 14 in “Twerk” t-shirts and one in “Twerk team captain.”
Keep Calm and [x]
While ill, swag and YOLO have fallen off the radar, somehow “Keep Calm and [x]”—originally Keep Calm and Carry On, a British World War II motivational poster rediscovered in 2000—has hit Wildwood this summer. This is baffling, but all I can do is keep calm and Instagram.
Same-sex marriage in 12 states and D.C.? That’s a sign of progress for LGBT rights, but here’s another: Gay pride t-shirts front and center on the Wildwood boardwalk! I hadn’t seen that before this year. It’s good to see they are just as tacky as every other shirt. Oh, the mighty hand of unfettered t-shirt capitalism will bust all prejudices eventually.
Grumpy Cat isn’t just an Internet celebrity and an upcoming feature film! He’s also a bootleg Wildwood boardwalk t-shirt. Will you finally cheer up now?
“Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
It’s amazing this wasn’t really around last summer, since the “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That!” meme began with a TV interview in April 2012. Apparently it took over a year to get to Wildwood, and as such, Kimberly Wilkins (aka Sweet Brown) is now immortalized on a t-shirt. Watch out, t-shirt operators! She has sued for infringement before.
And, completing our trifecta of Internet stupidity … bacon, of course. Ugh. It’s enough to make you wish for the relative classiness of saggy pants.