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Heat Wave Apparel

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Okay, this is some serious heat. And yes, we know, we know, it's not so much the heat, it's the humidity. But we think the heat has something to do with our sticky discomfort during that short scurry from one air conditioner to another. Our advice? Wear as little as possible. And before you get excited, we're only snagging your attention so we can talk about that staple of summer wear, the t-shirt.

More than ever, we're seeing the t-shirt become an expression of quirky coolness, baffling humor and scalpel-edged commentary. T-shirt vendors are everywhere. Everyone has an idea for a line. Heck, we onced lived in a Los Feliz house with two separate aspiring t-shirt moguls. One even had a silkscreen setup in his garage. So to help you through this wilderness as you strive to stay cool and, well, cool, here are a few of our favorite sources of clever cotton couture.

One of our local faves has got to be Red Star Ind. Musician and designer Joanna Contreras started this line not even a year ago and already they have some exceptional designs. Our favorite is the Robot In Luv design, with the Robot With Flowers a close second. We had the good fortune to chat with Joanna briefly at Coachella, where she had a booth. She couldn't be a nicer person.

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Threadless has quickly become THE source for amusing and beautiful t-shirt designs. The idea is pure genius: let people submit ideas. Let the public vote. We'll print up the winners and limit the run to make them all the more special. Or favorites: Dark Side Of The Garden, Blame It On Your TV and Emotional Trip. Vote for out-of-print designs and they just might return!

Ever wish you could find a shirt worn by one of your favorite movie characters? The cats at founditemclothing.com certainly have. And they've done something about it. They pick out cool shirt designs worn in classics of pop culture like The A-Team, The Big Lebowski and Strange Brew and lovingly recreate those shirts for our own consumption. Our pick: any of the shirts worn by Val Kilmer in Real Genius, especially this one.

This is just scratching the surface. There are others, notably, Defunker and Busted Tees, who are both operated by the same guys behind collegehumor.com. There's Cafe Press, which is nice for the person or organization who wants to publish a shirt without the initial cash investment, though the high prices tend to keep us at bay. We're wondering what other shops are out there? What cool local spots offer interesting summer wear for heat-strained Angelenos? Any thoughts?