Purple Shirt of Sex

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The Purple Shirt of Sex is a term that originated in the Sherlock fandom, describing a tight purple shirt that Sherlock Holmes, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, wears in The Great Game (episode 1x3). It gained such popularity that it eventually seeped into other unrelated fandoms.

Sherlock's Purple Shirt of Sex

Sherlock's Purple Shirt of Sex became so popular that it is routinely included in fandom primers,[1] has been mentioned in mainstream articles,[2] and even has a definition on Urban Dictionary:

The seductively deep purple shirt that adorns the ever so beautiful torso of Sherlock Holmes ; renowned for sending all who gaze upon it into the throes of blind lust regardless of gender or sexual orientation; a potent aphrodisiac.[3]

The shirt has a Facebook page, Archived version and has been tagged in 59 works, Archived version on the AO3 as of 22 June 2014.


Other Purple Shirts of Sex

Though it originally only referred to Sherlock's shirt, the Purple Shirt of Sex attained meme status and eventually spread into other fandoms. After the release of The Avengers it became a minor trope in Science Bros fic, referring to the purple shirt Bruce Banner wears while on the helicarrier[4]. It also gets references in the Elementary fandom, where Marcus Bell often wears a tight purple shirt.

Archives & Communities


  1. ^ thesherlockfandom. The Purple Shirt of Sex, Archived version on Tumblr, accessed 22 June 2014.
  2. ^ The Wire. A Brief Guide to Benedict Cumberbatch Hysteria, Archived version, accessed 22 June 2014.
  3. ^ Urban Dictionary. The Purple Shirt of Sex, Archived version, accessed 22 June 2014.
  4. ^ markfluffyruffalo. Purple Shirt gif-picspam, Archived version on Tumblr. June 16, 2014. (Accessed 11 August 2014)