No Sleeves, No Problem


With winter in full MF-in’ swing, and with the East Coast and Midwest getting buried under a foot of snow, I figured now was probably a good time to post a summer-related piece in hopes that it might give you something to look forward to and help melt away those February blues (or ‘whites’, seems a bit more fitting.)

After writing about the popularity of quirky tees in 80s movies, and having posted a picture of a sleeveless Steve Gutenberg in Police Academy, I realized the shirt-sans-sleeves look was a really popular one during the heyday of 80s cinema. It defined jocks, cool guys, tough guys, losers, and weirdos – making it easily one of the most versatile 80s fashion statements. Who wore it best? Let’s take a look.


Snake Plissken from Escape from New York and Escape from L.A. Gotta start the list off right, and the only way to do that is with Snake. Doesn’t get any cooler than him. This sleeveless look would definitely fall under the ‘tough guy’ category. Toss in an eyepatch and giant gun, and it’s elevated into the ‘total badass’ stratosphere.


The list went from bad-ass to sad-ass quick. Although, Ricky  – Corey Feldman’s character from The ‘Burbs – gets creativity points for slapping what appears to be the Batman logo on what looks like a mesh football jersey.


It only makes sense to follow a Feldman post with a shot from The Lost Boys. Above is Alan Frog – brother to Feldman’s Edgar Frog – and Alan is rocking a pretty proper sleeveless look. Combining the US Army 82 Airborne Division shirt with the dogtags definitely says ’15-year-old trying to look like grizzled war vet’. I give it a thumbs up.


Another great sleeveless look is worn by Freddy from Return of the Living Dead. The shirt reads “Domo arigato”, which is for Japanese for, “Thanks a lot”. I’ve searched and searched for this shirt online to no avail, so as far as I know it was created just for the movie. Is it a reference to the soft synth-pop 80s band Visage? Who knows! Complimented by a pair of skinny suspenders, this outfit says, “It’s 1985 and I love all that UK new-wave and punk shit.” When it comes to this shirt, u-needa it!



Rocking a look that defines “sleazeball”, we have Buddy from Just One of the Guys (1985) on top, and David fromFriday the 13th Part VII (1988) on the bottom, both rocking the sleeveless flannel look. This is good for late summer, when the leaves are beginning to change, and the afternoons are warm but the nights are chilly. Good for layering. Also good for teaching your sister how to act more like a dude, or when being stabbed by a maniac in a hockey mask.


I always thought Brand from The Goonies was an interesting character, because he’s so clearly a jock – yet the other jocky rich kids hate him. I wonder if any real life jocks who were unpopular with their peers saw this film and had a secret breakdown. We’ll never know, because a jock – unpopular or not – would never admit to such a thing. Bonus points for it being a sleeveless sweatshirt.



Speaking of sleeveless sweatshirts, here’s John Heard from C.H.U.D. Actually, C.H.U.D. delivers a twofer, with a young Daniel Stern popping up to show off his spaghetti strands. Do these two look like the biggest creeps ever, or what? Nice camera, John!


Easily the most creative fashion statement of the whole bunch, only Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds would be able to rock a sleeveless letter jacket and have it still make sense somehow. Plus, who would be brave enough to say otherwise? I bet that thing smells like sweat, stale Coors Light, and Brut.


Steve, Ponyboy, Two-Bit. Almost half of The Outsiders gang prefers a little sun on their shoulders. And a sleeveless Mickey Mouse tee? Truly one of the least threatening-looking groups I’ve ever seen.

And last, but certainly not least:


The entire Cobra Kai. Obviously inspired by their sensei’s fashion choices, the karate squad followed suit by nixing their sleeves as well. This is noticeable because they’re the only team participating in the final tournament without sleeves. It’s a tough look, one that racist ex-Vietnam Vet sensei John Kreese knows will intimidate opponents. But seeing what a lunatic nutbag Kreese is throughout the film – flying off the handle at every little thing – I don’t think it’s the outfit people find intimidating.

Well, that’s all for now friends. Hopefully this read has made the sun seem a little brighter and the air a little bit warmer. But remember: it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside; when you’re indoors, everyday can be a sleeveless summer.

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