My Top 5 Favorite Geek T-Shirts (That I Own)

I’m a sucker for t-shirts, have been all my life. My high school sweetheart gave me grief for always wearing t-shirt and jeans. During my college years, credit card companies found me an easy mark by offering free t-shirts in exchange for my John Hancock. When I go out with Charly I still use the old, tired, “I’ll put on my dress t-shirt” joke.

If I had the means, I would be the Imelda Marcos of bad-ass t-shirts. Since I’m not (yet) independently wealthy, I need to be selective, feeding my addiction with nothing but primo stuff. Selecting from the geek category, in no particular order, here are my top 5 favorite geek t-shirts of all time (that I own).

I’m Well Built

Atlassian makes a lot of really sweet software, stuff I use on a daily basis, both at the house and at the day job.  While I’ve never actually used Bamboo (that’s next on the project list), I dig the shirt for a couple of reasons.  First, I’m a fan of all the Atlassian products that I’ve used so far, and I’ve always had good experiences dealing with Atlassian support.  Second, while you can’t tell from the lame graphic, this is actually a really good looking shirt.  Third, not being particularly well built, I love wearing a shirt that says I am.  It reminds me of my old “Who needs hair with a body like this?” shirt I wore when I was 220lbs of out of shape slob.  Oh sweet, sweet juxtaposition.

Get yours here.


What can I say about this one? It was love at first sight.  The only way I could love it more is if it were an official Office Space Hawaiian shirt, which does not exist and would be another post anyhow.  The thing I can’t understand is how few people recognize the red Swingline stapler for what it is.  Last time I was traveling, the only guy that got the joke was a ticketing agent at the airport.   We both had a good laugh.  Everyone else just looked at us funny.

Get yours here.

fork you

I haven’t ever used Git, I’m not a fan of their marketing strategies (svn sucks! Whaa?), I’m irrationally prejudiced against Rails, but I still love this t-shirt.  Grey is a splash of color in my mostly black wardrobe, it features cool typography, short, punchy copy, and it’s got a spot on the back intended for a little DIY customization, Sharpie style.  Mine says “sucks."  Take that, Git. Har, har, har. Also, this is the shirt you want if you’re just angsty enough to want the world to fork off every once in a while, but not angsty enough to get yourself an FTW face tattoo (and I don’t mean "for the win”).

Get yours here.

SQL query

I picked this one up when I was working as a technical support rep, taking calls for 8 to 10 hours a day and hating my life.  While the tech support career path doesn’t generally leave one with a working knowledge of SQL, I was doing everything I could to teach myself to program so that I would never have to take another support call as long as I lived.  While that hasn’t quite worked out (I don’t take calls directly, but I live in JIRA), this shirt has remained hilarious and relevant from the first time I put it on.  Making jokes in code is like learning to swear in a foreign language, you can express your frustration about those around you without having to worry about being understood and a) getting punched in the jeans, b) getting fired, or c) getting punched in the jeans and then getting fired.  WARNING: when you start making jokes in code, you’ve crossed the line from earth person to geek.  There is no going back.

Get yours here.

Real Programmers Wear Corpsepaint

I grew up as a metal baby in the late 80s/early 90s, and I’ve never lost my taste for the hard stuff.  The combination of two of my great loves, heavy metal and computer programming, in one of my favorite mediums, the t-shirt, makes this an instant favorite. 

Fun fact: Although not widely known, corpse paint has been worn by computer programmers as early as the late 1960s.  It’s rumored that Kim Petersen, better known as King Diamond, was first exposed to corpse paint by some LISP) developers who were attending a mathematics conference in Denmark in the early 1970s.

Pro-tip: While real programmers wear do wear corpsepaint, real programmers do not wear nail studded gauntlets.  They’re a major contributing factor in repetitive stress injuries.

Get yours here.