When it's unclear in your sentence which noun an adjective is meant to describe, you've made the mistake of using a dangling modifier. The sentence, "Torn and paint-spattered, Matteo pulled on the t-shirt" gives the impression that Matteo was torn and paint-spattered, not his shirt.
When you use a dangling modifier, you've structured a sentence so that a modifier (a word or phrase, usually an adjective or adverb, that describes something) either hangs there without any word to modify, or seems to be modifying the wrong word. Generally speaking, modifiers describe the noun to which they're closest — which is why, in the example above, the adjectives seem to modify "Matteo." A correction might read "Matteo pulled on his torn and paint-spattered t-shirt."