Monthly Archives: May 2014

Summer Rules: socks and sandals, wearing white

School’s out! Whether you are a parent, an uncle, a sibling, or a kid, you know the feeling of June: it’s summer and you are free! You are free to have fun, kick back, and wear whatever the heck you like. But there are rules! Especially when it comes to fashion, there are some summer fashion rules that must never be broken.

One of the staple rules of summer fashion is Never Wear White Shoes Or Pants Before Memorial Day (or is it Easter? Either way, we’re in the clear now – don we now our white apparel). People say this fashion rule is ancient history, but moms everywhere will tell you “Never before Memorial Day or after Labor Day.” Wearing white out of season is kind of like wearing a straw hat in winter – and that would never work here in Vermont, the undeclared fashion capitol of the Northeast. And white shoes are always tricky, no matter what season it is. Unless you are the Duchess of Cambridge or the Big Lebowski, white shoes just look silly.

Socks_and_SandalsAnother great summer fashion rule is Socks and Sandals. The rule used to simply be Don’t Do It! But once considered a high crime of summer fashion, the Socks-and-Sandals Statement has made its way into the acceptable mainstream. Granted, most of that mainstream is in the U.K. (the Guardian and The Telegraph scooped this fashion faux-pas-turned-teenager-trend) where brollies and wellies are always in style. That stream seems to have jumped its banks. The Olsen twins, Mary Kate and Ashley, are the American spearheads for the resurgence of this octogenarian style here in the Colonies.

And then there’s Boots and Shorts. OK, OK we’re starting to see the trend. There are no more rules of summer fashion. Go ahead. Wear puffy winter coats when the high is above 60; expose your shoulders when the low is below 60, wear Wellies and norts, wear too much makeup at the beach, and sunglasses in the dark. Wear flip flops when you dine out. Anything goes. That’s why we are in the t-shirt business.

It’s summer and you are free!

 

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Mom and Pop Shops on Memorial Day: Small Business Remembered

We love Memorial Day. We love that it is also called Decoration Day (decoration, after all, is part of the foundation of our business). It is just so incredibly American. Parades that combine honored veterans, marching bands, floats, candy and Shriners driving crazy clown cars just make us feel proud and all patriotic. Of course we are patriotic year-round, the Memorial Day Parades just add a little sparkle to our zealousness.

Memorial Day This year as we honor the veterans who have made it possible for us to celebrate, we’d like to send a salute to small business – particularly Mom and Pop shops and cottage industry (some of their number are among those marching in the parade) . These businesses are some of the hardest-working and most deserving contributors to our national economy. President Obama idealized them this way: “What you share is an entrepreneurial spirit, a tireless work ethic and a simple hope for something better that lies at the heart of the American ideal. Businesses like yours are the engines of job growth in America.” Republican Nominee Mitt Romney also called small business “America’s engine of job growth.”* We could not agree more.

The Small Business Administration defines ‘small business’ this way: a business that is “independently owned and operated, is organized for profit, and is not dominant in its field.” In 2009, the SBA recognized more than 5 million small businesses in the U.S.. 54% of these businesses have 1-4 employees; 87% of them have less than 20. It goes on to define a retail small business as one whose annual receipts do not exceed $5.0 to $21.0 million. Our focus is a little smaller – we are thinking about the 54% with 1-4 employees. Many of these are the family-owned Mom-and-Pops and cottage industries.

Investopia defines the ‘Ma and Pa Shop’ (in the Northeast, we call it Mom and Pop): “A colloquial term for a small, independent, family-owned business. Unlike franchises and large corporations, which have multiple operations in various locations, ma and pa shops usually have a single location that often occupies a physically small space. The “shop” could be any type of business, from an auto repair shop to a bookstore to a restaurant.” (http://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/ma-and-pa-shop.asp)

Cottage industries can be even smaller – they are home-based, rather than factory-based. This is where our VP, Kevin Camisa started in the shirt business (at his mother’s dining room table). This is also where many of our customers do their work, not in Kevin’s mother’s dining room, but in their own homes.

This weekend as we celebrate so much that is great in our country, we send a shout out to the custodians of our national entrepreneurial spirit, small business!

*quoted here: http://www.npr.org/2013/09/24/224418052/small-businesses-big-concerns-and-high-hopes

 

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Graduation and the Colors of Summer

This is a bitter sweet week for us at Comfort Colors. Many of our favorite customers are graduating. We are thrilled and incredibly proud of them and also a little sad to see them go. Our fans who tweet things like “What is it even like to wear something other than norts* and a comfort colors t shirt every day?” and “The amount of sorority girl you are is directly proportional to how long your over-sized comfort colors T-shirt is” are about to find out what it’s like.

Two words of advice: Weekends and Color.

Weekends
At school, we lived for weekends. We still do after graduation. After college, this is the reason Comfort Colors exists.

Color
There are more colors out there than those of your Alma mater. Pantone would have us believe that Radiant Orchid is what we should be wearing (it is their color of the year, after all) or one of their top 10 Spring/Summer colors (which are pretty terrific, after all):

  • Dusk Bluecolor_guide
  • Emerald
  • Grayed Jade
  • African Violet
  • Monaco Blue
  • Nectarine
  • Poppy Red
  • Linen
  • Lemon Zest
  • Tender Shoots

But 271 years before Pantone put together it’s totally fun color guide, a Dutch artist with an unfortunate name created an 800-page masterpiece of every color imaginable. His name was A. Boogart (we like the art part, but the Boog part, not so much) and his handwritten book was recently unearthed by medieval book historian, Erik Kwakkel, in the Netherlands. The book has got the art world and the color industry doing back flips. This thing is amazing. You can view the entire book here. It is breath-taking.

The reason we bring up this amazing book of color in a blog post about college graduates is that it is such a great reminder of life’s amazing potential (something you grads probably heard about during that incredibly long graduation speech made by that important person).

Each of you grads has more potential than you might think. And even though the dress code in the post-graduation world might not be over-sized Comfort Colors everyday, there are still the weekends…

Good luck, you guys.

*Norts are super comfy running shorts, also called Nike Shorts in the way tissues are called Kleenex.

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Tradition: Hats, American Enterprise, and the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is this weekend. As much as we love basketball and football and even local girls’ lacrosse and rugby (yes in Vermont girls play rugby, too) there is something magical and elegant about the Derby. What other sport has themed hats and its own official cocktail?

It’s all about tradition at Churchill Downs. Though lacrosse predates the founding of the United States and our other beloved sports enjoy long, storied histories (the NBA was founded in 1949, the NFL dates back to 1920, the American League started in 1901, and the National League got going in 1876), none is as deep as the Derby. The Derby (or more accurately, the first race course in Kentucky) was laid out in 1789 – just thirteen short years after the country started. The first genuine Derby race was held in 1875, when the race moved to Churchill Downs.

There is something about the Derby that reminds us of royalty. It must be the hats. These wide-brimmed, elegantly adorned derby hats would not seem out of place atop the heads of the likes of Queen Elizabeth or The Duchess of Cambridge. When you think about it though, this is a bit odd, as a race track is a den of iniquity. It’s a masculine place where dust, sweat, alcohol, gambling and horseflesh coalesce and are celebrated. This is no place for a fashionable frock and a beautiful bonnet, right? That was the perception until a brilliant businessman turned it on its head, as it were.

Inspired by the Grand Prix of Paris and London’s Epsom Derby, Kentucky Derby founder Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. sought a more genteel audience than the ruffians associated with horse racing at the time. He used the fashionable elegance of the English and Parisian races to successfully market the Kentucky Derby to society women. Clark enlisted his wife and together they canvased door-to-door in upscale neighborhoods where elegant hats, coordinating shoes, bags, and parasols were de rigueur.

The first derby attracted more than 10,000 spectators, all dressed to impress. The tradition of dressing to be seen persists today. The greatest two minutes in sports is living testament to the power of fashion and American enterprise. Now if we could just do something about these silly names: Uncle Sigh, Wicked Strong, Intense Holiday, Candy Boy, General A Rod, California Chrome…

Kentucky_Derby_Hats

 

 

 

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