Paint too Proud to Beg: The Art of the Useless Sartorial Paint Splatter

Every now and again, life catches up with me.

When the work-induced sighing reaches its peak. When, if you listen closely, you can hear my left-eye-twitch asking, “have you considered yoga or like, not so much cheese? I’m working a full time job, here.” When the mere sight of the neighborhood Quiznos gives you claustrophobia-stomachache, and when I remember I have loans and will never be able to take a year-long Eat, Pray, Love trip around the world to center myself, I do the next best thing.

I go to Milwaukee for the day and hope for the best.

For those who have never been to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it’s pretty cool.


I could tell you about the Milwaukee Art Museum, a small, but well-curated and creative institution right on Lake Michigan that houses and designs some of the most creative exhibitions I’ve ever seen. I could tell you about the Milwaukee Public Market, where you can get a meal, then a drink, then coffee, and then buy kitchen things for your kitchen because you always forget that you’re out of kitchen space. A person always needs more kitchen toys.

I could tell you about the Historic Third Ward district, where you can shop in mostly local boutiques and learn things about boats from the many historic markers. And then I could tell you about the Mitchell Park Domes, three geodesic domes that are home to different climates allowing vegetation to grow even in the most soul-sucking depths of winter.

The Mitchell Park Domes

But this post isn’t about Milwaukee. This post is about a shirt I found in a chain store in Milwaukee. The store is Anthropologie, and this is that shirt.

I have a complicated relationship with Anthropologie.

For those unfamiliar, Anthropologie is a store that sometimes makes beautiful things that make you wonder if you could eat saltines and water for a week to afford, but more often, the store makes weird things. Weird things that make you wonder 1) how they can charge that much, 2) who is paying that much, 3) and are people’s torsos actually shaped like that? (Am I the weird one?).

The target market for Anthropologie appears to be residents of a commune that specializes in making soaps and is currently working on building its pickling division. But before they joined the commune, they won millions from a lawsuit. A lawsuit one can only assume has to do with a tragic soap-making accident. And because of the lawsuit, they can now afford hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of caftans. Which at Anthropolgie amounts to two caftans.

This caftan costs 198 dollars.

And it’s because they’re brave, they continue to make soap at said soap-making commune.

But you guys. That shirt.

Let’s start with the positive. Is the paint splatter really just…textile design? Is it really just someone breaking up a traditional pattern with a new design element? Maybe this shirt is great!

Or there’s a chance, and bear with me, that the shirt is really stupid.

The paint splatter look is just accidental enough that someone might see you wearing that shirt and think, “oh, she’s just come from her studio that is surely located on  soap-making commune. She is surely the fartsiest of artsy! Her lengthy torso sure doesn’t make her a monster!”

When I originally encountered this shirt, because I was on my speed-Eat-Pray-Love journey- And it’s a dangerous endeavor, really. One can get indigestion when you eat and pray and love in quick succession.- a fanciful, artsy shirt intrigued me. What a free spirit I could be with all my factory-concocted paint splatters!

The price tag, however, did not intrigue me. They were charging 118 dollars.

That is an insane amount of dollars for a shirt covered in paint-splatter.

Yeah, I have loans, and I may remind you, I have also not been involved in any soap-making accidents that ended up in the courts, but 118 dollars is objectively too many dollars.

Suddenly, all doubt in the shirt was gone. I was going to have that shirt, but I wasn’t going be paying for it. And I’m hearing how this sounds, so let me add, I also not a thief!

I was going to make that shirt. And my method was going to be about 110 dollars less expensive. And that’s a much more appropriate level of expensive.

And as they say, indignation and spite are never bad reasons to do anything.


  • A shirt- Get or find a shirt that you’re prepared to never wear again. It could already be in your closet, or it could be waiting for you at your nearest Goodwill. I bought mine off the men’s sale rack two years ago. I’ve worn it twice. It’s perfect for a potential-ruining.
  • Paint- Get acrylic. If craft stores aren’t your thing or aren’t nearby, Target has taken to carrying small containers of acrylic in their craft section. Color Schemes- The original Anthro shirt went through the full spectrum of paint splotches, but I decided to stick with blues and greens. I’m putting my design degree to work.


Find a Flat Surface for your Shirt

Bertha, my biker lawn gnome, insists on monitoring any and all craft projects.

I chose the floor! I did lay out newspaper, and tucked old grocery bags inside the shirt to prevent the colors from bleeding through. I am a proper grown-up after all.

Water Down Your Colors

Because Acrylic paint isn’t the most aerodynamic, I took old Advil containers, and mix 1 part water to 2 parts paint. That’s enough to properly paint-fling.

Splatter and Fling

Set aside your avocado toast and kombucha, turn on your favorite NPR podcast, and start expressing your inner joyous creativity that has just been waiting to come out.

If you’re me, crouch down Golem-Style, and get to flinging.

Once the paint has dried, send the shirt through one cycle in the drier to heat set the paint.

Enjoy your New Lifestyle Because Everything Will be Different Now and Forever

So, now that we’ve got our very own less-than-118-dollar painty-top, and yes, I also studied merchandising when I did all my designing, do we feel artsier? Or just fartsier? Or that we feel like we murdered a Smurf?

I kind of like it. I probably won’t wear it to work because that’s more of a graphic t-shirt crowd, but I’ll probably wear it either tucked into boyfriend jeans or tied over a high-waisted skirt.

Ultimately, I think there’s a reason the Anthropologie blouse has already gone on sale. To me it is blatantly designed to look like the work shirt of a painter. And painters tend to have their own work shirts, so the company is selling a shirt to people who want to look like painters.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, it’s probably because they’re too busy making soap to paint.

Here’s a secret to fashion, though. No one can tell you what you can and can’t wear.

Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable and confident, and if a paint-splatter shirt (I’m realizing now “splatter” probably doesn’t have the connotations Anthropologie was going for) does that for you, then I say go for it.

Just send me the link for your soap store on Etsy. And then send me free soap. You spent 118 dollars on that shirt. You can spare it.

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