WASHINGTON – Move over, ruby slippers. That puffy shirt's moving in.
The outlandishly unfashionable shirt worn by Jerry Seinfeld (search) on his hit TV show went on display Friday at the Smithsonian, alongside Kermit the Frog, Archie Bunker's chair and Dorothy's magic slippers from "The Wizard of Oz."
At the end of its nine-season run, "Seinfeld" (search) — the "show about nothing" — left lots of well-loved lines but few tangible relics suitable for enshrinement in the National Museum of American History (search).
Thus, The Puffy Shirt, which appeared briefly in a single episode. What makes that bit of wardrobe so memorable is that it serves as an icon, not only of "Seinfeld" but American popular culture.
"It looks funny and it sounds funny, and that's a good combination for a joke," Seinfeld told The Washington Post at a donation ceremony Thursday night. Before the puffy shirt episode aired in 1993, Seinfeld said, he had no idea it would become a classic.
On the air from 1989 until 1998, "Seinfeld" won 10 Emmy Awards and was TV Guide magazine's pick for the greatest show of all time.
In episode No. 66, comedian Jerry nods politely even though he can't make out what his pal Kramer's girlfriend is asking — she's a "low talker." Later to his horror, he learns he's agreed to wear the goofy, puffy shirt she designed when he appears on the "Today" show.
The white shirt, looking like a pirate's ruffled nightmare, was designed in real life by the show's costumer, Charmaine Simmons.
"This might be the first joke inducted into the Smithsonian Institution," Seinfeld noted.