Comfort Colors: The Whole Nine Yards

KiltWe know that the expression “the whole nine yards” means giving it your all, doing your best, going the distance. As a clothing company this is what we do for our customers.

Being somewhat fanatical about fabrics, we always thought the expression referred to fabric – cloth, material, as in the amount of material it takes to make s fine, three-piece suit.

But NPR says we’re wrong. A cool story yesterday looks at the etymology, the weave and weft as it were, of this famous expression. (You can hear the NPR story here.) As it turns out, the expression is one of those great mysteries whose answer depends on whom you ask. NPR (and Wikipedia) gave these possible answers:

  • The capacity of a cement truck – as in 9 yards of concrete
  • The length of an ammunition belt used by World War II jet fighters
  • The amount of fabric in the Shroud of Turin
  • The nine ship yards it took to construct the Liberty Ships (WWII American Cargo Ships)
  • Some salacious story having to do with kilts, door latches and a lack of proper under garments…well, you get the picture

This from Highlander Secrets (they obviously did not hear the NPR story):

Centuries ago, Highlanders not only hunted and fought in their plaid {kilt}, they slept in it! The expression, “the whole 9 yards”, came from the amount of material (approx. 9 yards) used to outfit our hearty ancestors. In those days, fabric was only woven in single widths (approx. 28 inches). This amount of fabric in single width is equivalent to Highland Secrets’ double width fabric (between 4-1/2 and 7-1/2 yards) used in making our Great Kilts. The latter yardage represents a mighty big Highlander!

At Comfort Colors, we do not use the phrase to refer to the amount of fabric in our awesome t-shirts (that amount depends, of course on the shirt size – we have little kid sizes through Adult 6X ), but to how far we will go to satisfy a customer. One conversation with Kevin Camisa and you’ll know what we mean.

kilt image credit

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One thought on “Comfort Colors: The Whole Nine Yards

  1. […] Barry T. Chouinard, the colorful chemist behind Comfort Color T-Shirts (quoting an NPR report) wonders if the mysterious Shroud of Turin was really made from nine yards of fabric.  […]

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