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Where 'Step Brothers' got its wacky T's

July 30, 2008 |  4:45 pm


For costume designer Susan Matheson, finding inspiration for the vintage T-shirts Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly wear throughout "Step Brothers" wasn't hard; the challenge was picking the right ones. "We wanted to distinguish their characters as being 40 years old stuck in childhood without making them look insane." Luckily, she had a wide selection to choose from -- the South African-born Matheson has long harbored an obsession with Americana, collecting enough vintage T-shirts over the years to fill a 400-square-foot private storage space. For many of her selections, it was a matter of digging into the archives and hand-making several copies. To find the 15 T-shirts seen throughout the movie, she started out with somewhere between 100 and 200 T-shirts and whittled it down from there. One personal favorite -- Reilly's black T with Converse sneakers hanging around the neck -- was not a favorite of the filmmakers. "The director thought it was too childish. Everyone thought it was hideous. But I was like a tenacious dog with a bone with that T-shirt." It was debated for months. Finally, she won. "From the screenings I've gone to, people tell me that's the T-shirt they want."

--Patrick Kevin Day