Monthly Archives: March 2014

April Fools Day

Right around now, much of the team here at Comfort Colors is scheming to figure out how to make some in-person t-shirt deliveries to our customers in wonderful places like Key West and San Diego. The reasoning behind the scheming is that Mother Nature is playing an April Fools Day joke on the good people of Vermont and New England. Parts of Vermont had below zero temperature readings this morning. Parts of Massachusetts were just blasted by gale force winds and temperatures in the 20s. We know it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature, but we do wonder where she got the idea to torture us like this.

So we thought we’d look into the origins of April Fools Day. While we absolutely love the notion of socially sanctioned silliness, it’s always fun to know where things come from. As it turns out, the beginnings of this wonderful day are a mystery, but there are a couple theories.

  • In 1582, the Pope decreed a new calendar: all of Christian Europe switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. The new Gregorian calendar moved New Year’s Day from April 1 to January 1. Julian calendar fans kept right on celebrating the April date. Boom!
  • The ancient Romans had a festival called Hilaria, a day of merriment and rejoicing right around the Vernal Equinox (end of March). News.discovery.com tells us that “The modern equivalent of Hilaria is called Roman Laughing Day.”
  • In India and Nepal, people celebrate Holi, an ancient Hindu festival of colors, frolicking, and love. People gather the night before Holi to celebrate and sing around bonfires. Here’s how Wikipedia describes the fun: The_colors_of_Holi“The next morning is a free-for-all carnival of colours, where everyone plays, chases and colours each other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water guns and coloured water-filled balloons for their water fight. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colours occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance.”
  • In the Middle Ages, the holiday was celebrated during the Feast of Annunciation, a late March holiday that marks Angel Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin Mary telling her she is expecting.

Because the holiday is all about pranks and jokes, many have fabricated its origins. But being a company dedicated to color and fun, we’re considering going with the Holi option.

image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Holi_shop.jpg

 

 

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Slogan T-shirts: Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve

Mark Twain once wrote, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” This makes sense, as naked people cannot wear their heart on their sleeve, which is the subject of this T-shirt blog post. The phrase ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’ today means showing your true self or being emotionally vulnerable. It’s a slight shift from the original meaning of the phrase.

The Smithsonian gives us these two stories of its origin:

1. In the Middle Ages, Emperor Claudius II believed unattached men made better soldiers so he declared marriage illegal. As a concession, he encouraged temporary coupling. Once a year, during a Roman festival honoring Juno, men drew names to determine who would be their lady friend for the coming year. Once established, the man would wear her name on his sleeve for the rest of the festival.

2. Around that same time, it’s speculated, when a knight performed in a jousting match in the king’s court, he’d dedicate his performance to a woman of the court. By tying something of hers, like a handkerchief, around his arm, he’d let the court know the match would defend the honor of that woman. (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-origins-of-wearing-your-heart-on-your-sleeve-17471279/#Ojcw3iSyMqdTkAyg.99)

Comfort_Colors_T-shirtAnd credits Shakespeare, who gets credit for many, many great phrases (like all of a sudden, dead as a doornail, give the devil his due, fancy free…), for being the first to use the expression in print. In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago (the main villain in the play) will not wear his heart on his sleeve because he does not want his true loyalties discovered.

Slogan T-shirt designs are the modern version of wearing your heart on your sleeve. We pledge allegiance in big bold letters across our chests to our Alma Mater, our favorite rock band, our beloved sports team, our political candidate of choice. In the 80’s English fashion designer, Katharine Hamnett made these types of slogan Ts particularly popular. CHOOSE LIFE (remember the pop band Wham!?) and WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW (worn by Roger Taylor of Queen) were some of the biggest shirts (in both size and popularity) of this genre. Both t-shirt styles were all white with the slogan printed on the chest in large, bold black capital letters. Paul Morley later based his FRANKIE SAYS RELAX t-shirts (large bold white print on black) on these Hamnett designs.

The latest versions of this T-shirt style are the new Être Cécile brand shirts, though they are more angst and less heart than their predecessors. Here are a couple of their slogans: “You make my hard drive full” and “My mistake was staying logged on.” Not exactly jousting material.

What are your favorite slogan Tees? Does the Hamnett style work for your customers? Or are they more I-love-Texas-style? Either way, we can recommend some great t-shirt sleeves upon which they can portray their hearts.

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Shades of Green in Vermont and Massachusetts

shamrocksSt. Patrick’s Day is almost here. It’s a day we all lie about our heritage. But Comfort Colors is headquartered in Vermont and our other main dye house is in Massachusetts. Both states have huge Irish-American populations: Massachusetts has the largest percentage of Irish-Americans in the country – more than 23% of Bay Staters are of Irish descent; Vermont is among the top ten Irish states – more than 17% of Vermonters pledge allegiance. Not all of us are lying on the 17th.

The Washington Post tells us that “There are 34.5 million Americans who list their heritage as either primarily or partially Irish. That number is, incidentally, seven times larger than the population of Ireland itself (4.68 million). Irish is the second-most common ancestry among Americans, falling just behind German.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/03/17/the-irish-american-population-is-seven-times-larger-than-ireland)

According to Forbes: “Twenty-two million Americans — 7.2% of the population – say their “primary ancestry” is Irish, according to the Census’s American Community Survey. Another 13.5 million Americans claim at least some Irish ancestry, bringing the total to 35.5 million Americans — 11.6% of the population — with at least partial Irish ancestry. If that sounds low, remember that Ireland’s population today is just 6.4 million – 4.6 million in the Republic of Ireland and 1.8 million in Northern Ireland. So there are more than 5 times as many Americans with at least partial Irish ancestry as there are people who live in Ireland.” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2013/03/15/americas-most-irish-towns/)

Wikipedia tells us that “the Irish language ranks 66th out of the 322 languages spoken today in the U.S., with over 25,000 speakers. New York State has the most Irish Gaelic speakers, and Massachusetts the highest percentage, of the 50 states.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_American)

Our country is greener than many think. In honor of such verdant roots, we give you some of our favorite t-shirt colors: Aloe, Bay, Blue Spruce, Dillweed, Celedon, Grass, Kiwi, Lime, Light Green, Monterey Sage, Moss, Neon Green, Sage, Sea, Willow, and of course, Emerald. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

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T-shirt Weather and Signs of Spring

Seeing someone wearing a T-shirt outdoors used to be one of our first signs of Spring here at Comfort Colors, but recently it was in the upper 30s here in Vermont and we did see a guy outside in a T. Brrr. Normally we think of T-shirt weather as something north of 65 degrees. Until the thermometer begins to cooperate, we’ll have to find sings of Spring in other places.

crocus - signs of springCommon signs of Spring in this part of the country include crocuses, the smell of skunk, the appearance of robins and bluebirds, and honey bees getting back to work. In Vermont, our home state, ice-out is a major sign of the new season, as is the start of maple season when sap starts flowing in the trees. In Massachusetts, our second home, seeing ducks in the park chasing one another with amorous intentions is a sure sign that warmth is on the way. We also start to see cafés move some of their seating outdoors – a very civilized sign of Spring.

In the garment industry, the Pantone Spring Color Report is a sure sign of Spring. Here is a little preview:
“This season, consumers are looking for a state of thoughtful, emotional and artistic equilibrium,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “While this need for stability is reflected in the composition of the palette, the inherent versatility of the individual colors allows for experimentation with new looks and color combinations.”

The line up for Women’s fashion looks a little like this:
Placid Blue
Violet Tulip
Hemlock
Paloma
Sand
Freesia
Cayenne
Celosia Orange
Radiant Orchid
Dazzling Blue

And these are the Men’s colors:
Placid Blue
Purple Haze
Comfrey
Paloma
Sand
Freesia
Cayenne
Celosia Orange
Magenta Purple
Dazzling Blue

You can take the survey to vote for your favorites here. The men’s and women’s colors are quite similar, but the men’s hues tend to have descriptors like daring, intense and bold. But all in all the colors are quite good and very familiar, they are not unlike our own colors. It does not seem fair, though, that men do not get Radiant Orchid, in their palette this year. Guys need a lift, too!

Early Spring is a very good time to contemplate such wonderful colors, especially when the New England temperament has lost some of its humor. We are definitely looking forward to T-shirt weather.

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