T-Shirt Codes

This is a group exercise. Visit a clothing store, or have all members of a class wear a favourite t-shirt to a session. Address the following:

What is the t-shirt made of? Look at the label (if any) sewn into the garment. That label, with information on the fabric composition and country of manufacture, is like an Attribute Code for the clothing item’s contents. The label—the code—summarizes the entire t-shirt’s basic contents.

What size is the t-shirt? Again, look at the label (or better still, try it on). The symbols S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL are Magnitude Codes. The experience of trying it on yourself gives you a better understanding of what that size code actually means. These days, what passes for “medium” in one brand of clothing may be labelled “large” by another manufacturer’s line. If there is no label that specifies the t-shirt’s size, use observation and comparison with other t-shirts to assess its probable size.

What words and/or images (if any) are on the front or back of the t-shirt? Those words and images are both textual and nonverbal In Vivo Codes for the garment. Cluster together with others wearing similarly coded shirts (a form of Focused Coding) and discuss not only what the messages have in common but also what the people wearing them have in common. What you identify for each cluster or category of people might be called a Pattern Code, based on the collective values, attitudes, and beliefs of the wearers—a form of Values Code.