The Puffy Shirt

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"The Puffy Shirt"
Seinfeld episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 2
Directed by Tom Cherones
Written by Larry David
Production code 502
Original air date September 23, 1993
Guest appearance(s)
Season 5 episodes
List of Seinfeld episodes

"The Puffy Shirt" is the second episode of the fifth season of the American NBC sitcom Seinfeld. It was the 66th episode and originally aired on September 23, 1993. Larry David, the creator of the show, came up with the idea to use the shirt,[1] and cites this episode as one of his favorites in the series.


George is upset because he is moving back in with his parents. Jerry offers him money to pay his rent and Kramer tells him he can live with him for a while, but George declines. They help George move his things into his parents' house, but George is alarmed when they prepare to leave because he does not want to be left alone with his bickering parents. Jerry tells him that he is going to dinner later with Elaine, Kramer, and Kramer's new girlfriend Leslie (Wendel Meldrum). George wants to come, but his mother tells him he is going to dinner with her and his father.

That night at dinner, Kramer tells Elaine and Jerry that Leslie is a fashion designer and has designed a new puffy shirt "like the pirates used to wear."[2] When he leaves to go to the bathroom, Elaine explains to Leslie that Jerry is making an appearance on The Today Show to promote a benefit for Goodwill that helps clothe the poor and homeless. Leslie then says something; not hearing what she said, Jerry and Elaine just pretend and nod their heads in agreement.

The next day at Jerry's, Kramer tells Jerry that since he agreed to wear Leslie's puffy shirt on The Today Show she has been getting orders from boutiques and department stores to produce more of them. Jerry does not know what he is talking about and Kramer explains that Jerry had told Leslie "yes" when she asked if he would wear the shirt on The Today Show at the restaurant. Jerry protests wearing the shirt because he could not hear a word she was saying and that the shirt looks "ridiculous", but Kramer tells him he has to wear it because factories are already producing them and stores are beginning to stock them. Kramer also mentions that Jerry is going to be the first pirate, leading Jerry to famously answer "But I don't want to be a pirate!"

Meanwhile, after dealing with his parents at a restaurant, George accidentally bumps into a woman, spilling her things. As he picks up her stuff for her, she notices how perfect his hands look and asks him to become a hand model. George then becomes very cautious of his hands, going so far as to wear oven mittens and freaking out when Kramer pranks him with a hand buzzer; he also gets manicures using his mother's manicure kit (during which he leaves the room when his parents bicker about his hands, Jell-O, and bananas).

Later, Jerry and Kramer are backstage in a dressing room at The Today Show studio. The stagehand tells Jerry he has five minutes until he goes on the air. Elaine arrives and immediately laughs at Jerry's shirt; after learning that he indirectly agreed to wear the shirt since Leslie asked him, Elaine then protests against the shirt, saying that he looks like The Count of Monte Cristo and that he looks like he would "swing on a chandelier."

Jerry makes his appearance on The Today Show, but Bryant Gumbel cannot help but laugh and talk about his puffy shirt. Jerry is pushed over the edge and denounces the shirt on the air, causing Leslie to shout "You bastard!" off camera. When Gumbel asks Jerry if he heard that, Jerry says "Now that I heard."

The Puffy Shirt on display at the National Museum of American History in 2006

George gleefully heads to meet Jerry at the NBC studios after a successful photography advertising featuring his hands and receiving a phone number from a beautiful woman. In the dressing room, Leslie screams at Jerry for ruining her career, but Jerry counters by telling her that if she was screaming to begin with, he wouldn't be wearing the shirt in the first place. George bursts in and tells Jerry of his good fortune. Elaine, who has never noticed George's hands before, asks to see them; George takes off his mittens, and Elaine unenthusiastically says "Yeah, very nice." George then proceeds to mock and laugh at Jerry's shirt, unaware that Leslie, who is still in the room, can hear him. Furious, she pushes George and he trips, burning his now exposed hands on a hot clothes iron sitting on the dressing room table, which Kramer forgot to turn off.

The episode ends with the four sitting at a coffee shop. George's hands are bandaged up and Elaine helps feed him. He mockingly tells them that his hand model career is over "because of the puffy shirt." The shirt fiasco also caused Elaine to get fired from the benefit committee at Goodwill. Jerry says that he got heckled during his stand-up comedy performance because of the shirt ("Avast ye maties" is one heckler's comment). Kramer tells them that all the stores canceled orders of Leslie's shirt and that he broke up with her because he "can't be with someone whose life is in complete disarray." The remaining shirts were given to Goodwill and when the four friends leave, two homeless men outside, dressed in the puffy shirts, ask for change. When giving them some money, Jerry remarks that it's not really a bad-looking shirt after all.


  1. ^ Arnold, Thomas K. "Ahoy thar, 'Seinfeld' mateys!". USA Today. USA Today. Retrieved 28 June 2015. 
  2. ^ "Seinfeld's "Puffy Shirt"". Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Smithsonian. Retrieved 28 June 2015. 

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