Tuesday, August 2, 2011

2,000 ways to wear a T-shirt: Carnaverão 2011

Who would wear this to a concert?
Turns out, EVERYONE.
I've never celebrated Carnaval in Brazil, so when my friend, Sam, forwarded me an announcement from the Brazilian Consulate about Carnaverão, "the biggest Carnaval event in America," I immediately bought a ticket. I had a hunch the summertime Carnaval celebration might resemble Brazilian Day in all its drunken glory, and I wanted to see the headliner, Brazilian pop star Claudia Leite. In the confirmation email, I read something about a T-shirt arriving in a package with my ticket, but didn't think much of it. Who needs another T-shirt, right? So when the package arrived, I carefully stored the $90 ticket in my wallet and stuffed the T-shirt in my dresser drawer.

On Saturday morning, Sam texted me to ask if I was going to wear my T-shirt. "Hell, no," I responded. I wanted to blend with the crowd, not stand out as the overeager gringa, Brazilian-wannabe. Plus, if Carnaverão were going to be anything like Brazilian Day, a T-shirt would be far to conservative. Instead I squeezed into an appropriately scandalous, yet generic, ensemble: white cut-off shorts and a low-cut tank top. I even thought about wearing heels, but opted for the more comfortable and machine washable, flip-flops. 

But as Sam and I descended the paved ramp to the crumbling parking lot behind Rio Rodizio in Newark, New Jersey, I realized I had been completely mistaken. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was wearing his/her Carnaverão T-shirt; or, more accurately, wearing pieces of it. Despite all my effort to look effortlessly Brazilian, I stood out as the girl who didn't get the memo. Sam was wearing her T-shirt, but as it had arrived in the mail: unadulterated and in one piece.

I could have never imagined the T-shirt I had disregarded as a lame party favor and an excuse to over charge, could be reconfigured into over 2,000 styles, draped over shoulders, breasts, and bellies in ways. It was apparent that these women (and men) had put serious thought and time in creating the most unique and attention-getting iteration of the drab T I would have only worn to the gym. I'm talking serious tailor work. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the women had had their shirts professionally altered, or at least enlisted the help of mom (or maid). 

Although I was asked at least twice about my lack of Carnaverão spirit, in retrospect, I'm glad I didn't know to chop my shirt into little bits and sew/glue/string them back together. If I had, I would not have known what make. After spending an entire evening studying all the Carnaverão styles, I now feel ready to bring out the beads, the BeDazzler, the scissors, and the sewing machine. When I finish my sexy sewing project, I'll post a picture of the finished product. In the mean time, feast your eyes on these ladies (and gents) and their Carnaverão creations.
Don't let the zipper fool you. She sewed it in. 
I love the beadwork on the right!
The bodice look
One of my favorites on the left
The men were no exception 
Another variation on the bodice.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the winner, but the title of the best Cut T-shirt goes to... the pregnant young women who'd reconfigured her T-shirt into a bikini top. No point in covering her tummy and obstructing her baby's view of its first pop concert, right? Such a considerate mommy-to-be. 

And about the concert... It was good, too. Definitely worth the $90. 

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