Monthly Archives: October 2012

Blue Shirts and Red Shirts

News about presidential campaigns took a back seat to Hurricane Sandy earlier this week, but the Red and Blue debates are bound to resurface at any moment. The whole concept of color-coded states got our comfortable t-shirt color-conscious staff wondering about the origins of the red and blue political color scheme.

According to Wikipedia, “Before the 2000 presidential election, the traditional color coding scheme was “Blue for Republican, Red for Democrat,” in line with historical European associations (red was used for left-leaning parties).”

During the Civil War, blue usually referred to the ‘Republican North’ as the uniform of the Union soldier was predominantly blue. Later, the political parties were all over the color spectrum. In 1908, for example, the New York Times printed a special color edition depicting the Democratic states in blue, Republican states in yellow. That same year, the Washington Post painted the Republicans red and the Democratic-leaning states blue.

Color television certainly had an influence on the color-coding of the political parties – newscasters relied on the use of vivid colors to convey their messages. One source claims that from “1976 to 2004, the broadcast networks, in an attempt to avoid favoritism in color coding, standardized on the convention of alternating every four years between blue and red the color used for the incumbent party”. (Wikipedia to the rescue)

By 1996, political color schemes were reminiscent of a Jackson Pollack. And during the hurricane? Blue and Red washed together to become purple. Violet, grape, berry and wine are our favorite purples.

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Color, Comfortable T-shirts and Sleep

Get comfortable in your t-shirt, but not too comfortable – especially if you’re at work. The color of your clothing (even your favorite T-shirt) may be tiring you out. Studies show that dark colors like black, navy and brown stimulate the secretion of melatonin—the chemical that makes you sleepy.

Though the comfortable cotton t-shirt is the uniform here at Comfort Colors, we keep it lively with plenty of vibrant color – especially our reactive colors. Paprika, Raspberry, Lime, Sapphire and Tangerine Tango are very good at keeping the creative juices flowing.

The dye manufacturers will tell you that Reactive Colors get their name because in the presence of alkalies they react and form a chemical linkage with the t-shirt fibers. T-shirt lovers will tell you that Reactive Colors stimulate a good reaction by the people who wear them and by the people looking at the people who wear them. It is not so much about chemicals as it is about ‘chemistry‘.

Studies show that bright colors keep you energized. “White clothes suppress sleep-inducing melatonin and boost serotonin—the feel-good chemical in your brain. Red is good for an aggressive kind of energy. It’s also been shown to increase blood flow and stimulate adrenal glands. Yellow has been proven to stimulate the brain, build self-confidence, and encourage optimism.” (

But do choose your colors wisely. According to, “You do want to be careful about using bright colors like orange and especially yellow. They reflect more light and excessively stimulate a person’s eyes which can lead to irritation.”

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Feeling Blue and Daylight Savings

Blue is a universal color. It is a calm, soothing color found in nature. It can be strong and steadfast or light and friendly. Almost everyone likes some shade of the color blue. For some cultures, blue even carries religious significance. In 1999 Pantone named the sky blue color of Cerulean as the color of the new millennium.

But blue also has a dark side. Especially this time of year, as the end of Daylight Savings approaches, some of us are feeling a little blue – a Miles Davis Kind of  Blue.

How did such a soothing color come to represent such damp spirits? Why are the blues so sad? The general consensus is that the use of the word blue to describe sad feelings comes from the term ‘blue devils’.  Some attribute the origin of  the phrase ‘Blue Devils’ to the one-act play of that name written by popular English dramatist George Colman and performed at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden, London in 1798.

The story in the play is about a french hotel landlords financial problems – he hasn’t paid the wine merchant, among others. And his daughter is sleeping around. A guest in the hotel is a sad and wealthy middle aged man, whose desperation brings him to the point of suicide. Through a series of comical misunderstandings, the middle aged guest and the story come to happy ends.

Others attributions of the phrase blue devils include:

  • The blue devils an alcoholic faces while in the throes of delirium tremens.
  • The blue uniforms of law enforcement.
  • The “low” spirits accompanying people coming from England to America in the in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. These spirits were believed to be able to cause problems for people and make them feel bad.

Today, the essence of the uplifting color of the new millennium and natural light seems to be offset by the blue devils. The result is a feeling that is not too high or too low – it’s just cool and Comfortable. Think Blue Jean, Flo Blue and Royal Caribe.

image credit: wikipedia

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Feelings, Nothing More than Feelings: Colors,Textures and Sweatshirts

Color is often associated with emotion. Think ‘feeling blue’ or ‘seeing red’ — at Comfort Colors we think Midnight, China Blue and True Navy and Chili Pepper and Crimson (but you know what we mean). As it turns out, texture can have as big an impact as color does on our moods.

This is not news to anyone who has ever withstood a childhood scolding atop a hardback chair, or sought solace in a soft teddy bear. In a recent study, researchers at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale University set out to prove it. “The authors say the work suggests that physical touch — the first of our senses to develop — may continue to operate throughout life like a scaffold upon which people build their social judgments and decisions.” (

Ah…we continue to love soft, fluffy things throughout our lives. Their experiments included several hardness tests:

  • In a test of hardness, subjects handled either a soft blanket or a hard wooden block before being told an ambiguous story about a workplace interaction between a supervisor and an employee. Those who touched the block judged the employee as more rigid and strict.
  • A second hardness experiment showed that even passive touch can shape interactions. Subjects seated in hard or soft chairs engaged in mock haggling over the price of a new car. Subjects in hard chairs were less flexible, showing less movement between successive offers. They also judged their adversaries in the negotiations as more stable and less emotional. (

Oprah agrees. In her non-scientific study “Why Sadness Makes Us Susceptible to Shag Carpets,” she suggests that we can improve our moods through the use of texture and offers these five sensory experiences to consider when feeling blue:

  1. Ice-cold water from a drinking fountain on your wrists
  2. Walking barefoot on a sanded wood dock
  3. A bubble bath
  4. A cashmere eye mask
  5. A giant terry cloth towel

This brings us to the sweatshirt. Comfort Colors sweatshirts are favorites because of their texture – and the impact that texture has on our moods. When you’re in your Comfort Colors Hoodie, you feel good. It’s pretty simple, though we’d welcome a study by the guys at Harvard and Yale.

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