Monthly Archives: August 2014

The meaning of Labor Day

We consider Labor Day each year – just about this week, too!

Right around this time of year, many of us hear the same question: Why does everyone have the day off from work on Labor Day? That is exactly why Labor Day was created – to give working people a day off. Since 1882, Labor Day has been observed as a Federal holiday in the United States. And like all great holidays, this one was christened with a big parade in New York City.

The Department of Labor gives us this: “The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community,8_hour_day_banner_1856 followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.” (

There is no doubt that the day was designed for fun, leisure, and appreciation (and nowadays, T-shirts!), but what is in question is the holiday’s originator. Labor Day comes to us, in a very roundabout way, from ancient Ireland. Maguire and McGuire are the surnames of the men in contention for the honor of founding Labor Day. Both names, according to Wikipedia, come from the Magi of Éire, or the priests of ancient Ireland.

Peter McGuire founded the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, the largest trade union of its time. Matthew Maguire was instrumental in bringing “the plight of manufacturing workers and their long hours into the public consciousness.” ( Maguire is usually the winner in this contest, but he seems to have been overlooked as “Father of Labor Day” because of some of his more radical political beliefs.

Regardless of the progenitor of the day, Labor Day has become the unofficial end of summer. And we love all it has come to symbolize – honoring workers, summer, and the new beginning of the school year!



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College Ts and the Old College Try

The history of the college t-shirt is tough to pin down. We know that the T-shirt (the skivvie) made its way out from under button-down sleeves in the early teens (1913-ish), when the US Navy adopted the use of the white undershirt as a modest chest-hair coverup for hot, sweaty sailors working on deck. We also know that political Ts started popping buttons in the late 1940’s – Governor Thomas E. Dewey used “Dew-IT with Dewey” promotional T-shirts in his presidential campaign. But the history of college T-shirts has proven harder to track down.

Oklahoma_Comfort_ColorsWe did give it the old college try. Eureka! Now here is a subject we can sink our teeth into. The Old College Try! Just as so many of our customers are making their way back to the hallowed halls of academia, this is the perfect time to learn a little bit about The Old College Try.

We all know what it means, but why does it have this meaning? Where does it come from? Like so many of our favorite idioms, it comes from baseball. The English Language & Usage Stack Exchange ( defines College Try as a zealous all-out effort and gives us this source:

A newspaper column by that title [The Old College Try] by Billy Sunday which has a 1917 copyright by The Bell Syndicate Inc. Appears in an Elyria Ohio paper October of 1918…Giants manager John McGraw who after watching an rookie outfielder just out of college miss a heroic catch which resulted in a homer. While the “sapient birds of the Giants gave the kid the cackle” McGraw is quoted as saying, “That’s the eye, young fellow. The old college try.”

Babe Ruth (in Babe Ruth’s Own Book of Baseball) defined “giving it the old college try” as “playing to the grandstand or making strenuous effort to field a ball that obviously cannot be handled.” (

As it turns out, there are plenty of other expressions that come to us from baseball. Charley horse, getting to first base, grandstanding, and rain-check all come from baseball. We’ll ‘touch base’ with more of these in season.

Good luck at school! And remember, It ain’t over till it’s over!

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Yes, Fall is coming, but it is Still Summer Right Now!

Even as we gear up for school and Rush Week and sports and books and studying and reunions with friends and getting back to business, let us not forget that it is still summer! There are still more than five weeks left of summer! Fall does not officially begin until September 23rd. It is still t-shirt season in much of the country! There is still time to get the most of your summer.

ukeCarpe diem! Summer is short and its peak is upon us, the time to act is now! Here are ten of our favorite tips for seizing the most of each of the sweet days left of summer:

  1. Make a plan. Create a schedule. Put it on your calendar – with notifications! Your Google calendar can help you have more fun.
  2. Be spontaneous. This may sound completely contrary to  Carpe Summer tip number one, but the fun, uninhibited nature of spontaneity is food for the creative process. Get your brain on board and you might just have a great time!
  3. Stick around. Instead of spending hours in the car driving to the beach or the mountains, step outside your door and take a walk over to your local swing set, basketball court, bookstore, cafe, farmers market, swimming pool, public garden. You might just fall in love with what is right around the corner. Be here now.
  4. Take a big trip. Here we go again with contrasting recommendations! Get out of Dodge and see the world with new eyes. Commit to taking an adventure. Stick a toe out over the edge of your comfort zone. Getting away will give you a fresh perspective. What could be better than a summer road trip?
  5. Revisit recess. You don’t have to be a kid or even in school in order to revisit recess. Have some simple fun. Jump rope, swing on the swings, kick off your shoes, splash in mud puddles, sing at the top of your lungs.
  6. Play Hookie. You don’t have to be in school in order to do this either. Your job probably offers a few sick days. Take a healthy day instead. Call in well and get some personal time in the fresh air.
  7. Pick up the Ukelele. Ok it does not have to be the uke, but you have to admit that the uke is one of the cutest instruments! Learn something new! Whether it’s Tai Chi, bungee jumping, or underwater basket weaving, your brain will thank you.
  8. Turn off your phone. Your electronic devises are out to get you. Take the upper hand and turn them off! You’ll find more time to enjoy the things that really matter.
  9. Make a new friend. How does that song go? Make new friends, but keep the old…? Friends are good for your mood and your self-esteem. Making a new friend keeps it lively and exciting.
  10. Service. There are few things more enriching than helping others. It makes you feel awesome while it makes others feel valued. Service to others is a confidence booster that even has scientifically proven health benefits Talk about win-win!

Put on your t-shirt and get out there! There is still time to have a Happy summer!

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T-shirts and Greek Life – What a Rush…

SONY DSCMany of our customers are sorority or fraternity members. And there is something wonderful about the connection between Comfort Colors T-shirts and Greek Life.

The National Panhellenic Conference is the association in charge of sororities; North-American Interfraternity Conference heads fraternities. Both formal regulatory bodies have created very specific codes and social mores for membership.

Here are some stats about Greek life from University of Missouri-Kansas City:

  • Nationally, 71% of all fraternity and sorority member graduate, while only 50% of non-members graduate.
  • The All fraternity and sorority GPA is higher than the overall collegiate GPA.
  • Since 1910, 85% of the Supreme Court Justices have been fraternity or sorority members.
  • 85% of the Fortune 500 key executives are fraternity or sorority members.
  • Of the nation’s 50 largest corporations, 43 are headed by fraternity or sorority members.
  • 76% of Who’s Who in America are fraternity or sorority members.
  • All but two Presidents since 1825 have been fraternity or sorority members.
  • 70% of the U.S. Presidents’ cabinet members since 1900 have been fraternity or sorority members.
  • 76% of U.S. Senators are fraternity or sorority members. (

Impressive stats, though we are pretty sure we have not yet had a President who belonged to a sorority.

We wanted to know about the history of rushing. This information was not as easy to find as you might imagine, though we did find some juicy tidbits from the Alpha Delta Phi Society at Brown:

Harvard, the first American college and prototype for the entire American college system, was patterned after the colleges of England. Harvard copied every English custom it was possible to copy: the dormitory (or commons) system of living, the classical curriculum, the degree requirements, and the strict student discipline. (

So we asked a Brit about rushing. Of course he replied “A gentleman never rushes, he saunters.” The Brown website explained it this way:

Every freshman class was subjected to extensive hazing, of a degree of brutality which can be described as barbaric. Severe injuries were common, and occasionally a boy was killed. Naturally, the freshmen fought back, and gradually arose formalized class battle, some of which raged for days. These class fights were called “rushing.” This may be the origin of the fraternity word “rush.”

The result of these class battles was that each class was united against every other class, and the classes were united against the faculty – the authority figures who enforced the rules. The spirit of camaraderie among the students was a driving force toward the creation of the more dedicated, more devoted, and more idealistic personal friendships in those smaller groups which would be called fraternities.

This explains why fraternity recruitment is called Rush, but what of the sororal aspect of recruitment? The kind of rush described above does not seem very feminine.

The Adelphean Society at Wesleyan was the first established women’s society (1851). Wikipedia’s description of early sororities does not include any mention of battles: “Sororities had, from the beginning, the difficult objective of proving the viability of coeducational studies. That women could perform academically as well as or better than men while maintaining the Victorian ideals of womanhood was a tall order. Sororities created high academic standards and monitored the social activities of their members from their inception.”

While recruitment practices vary from campus to campus, and these days you can even hire a Sorority Rush Coach, it sure doesn’t sound like fisticuffs to us. Why is it still called Rush Week? says it is because of the quick decisions that are made, often based on appearance. But there must be more to it than that. Is it the bum’s rush women who are not selected feel? Is the sugar rush they feel when they are? Is it just tradition?

Regardless of its origins, we are glad these talented students can find some comfort in our shirts.


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Late Summer Fashion…for Cats

cat_crownHere at Comfort Colors, we like to stay comfortable, of course, but we also like to keep fashion on the radar. Which is why today’s search result for fashion made us scratch our heads: “The Algonquin’s Cat Fashion Show Is This Weekend”. While cats were the symbol of grace and poise in ancient Egypt, there is something about cats fully dressed in human-style clothing that stretches the limits of fashion, if not the imagination.

Here is the story from Veronica Corningstone of

This Saturday night the Algonquin Hotel will once again be taken over by fashionable cats for resident hotel cat Matilda’s big annual fundraiser…

This year Matilda and her furiends will host a Salute to Broadway, a new theme for their event, which will benefit the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. The Broadway-themed cat fashion show isn’t all that’s in store, however—you’ll also be treated to a reception and raffle. That’s right, YOU can be a part of this, for a requested donation of $40 (more information can be found here).

There will also be appearances from Tara the Hero Cat, who was captured on video saving her young human friend from a dog attack, and Vito Vincent, the formerly homeless feline star of Broadway’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

But whether or not you love to see kittens dressed as ballerinas or in mini “Catillacs” dressed as Elvis, the event is a good one. It benefits the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a non-profit that “is the sole umbrella organization for animal welfare in NYC.” The goal of the organization “is to transform New York City into a no-kill community by 2015, where no dogs or cats of reasonable health or temperament are killed simply because they do not have homes.” A laudable goal in any community.

Have any plans for the weekend? This weekend event, at the Algonquin Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, is gonna be the cat’s pajamas. Literally…

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