Category Archives: Color

Color Therapy, Coloring Books, and Finding Some Comfort

rainbow-colors-spectrumUp here in the Northeast (Comfort Colors‘ primary dye houses are in Vermont and Massachusetts) we are starved for color right about now. We seem to be stuck in the grey season between winter and something more cheery and well, colorful. (It’s no surprise that the film Fifty Shades of Grey was released in February, the often dreary color is something most of us could relate to in February.) We need some rich, deep, vibrant color.

Color therapy, under various guises, has been around since the beginning of civilization. There are records of color “cures” in Ancient Egypt dating back to 1500 BCE. Later, Aristotle did all kinds of studies on light and color mixing. Issac Newton coined the term ‘spectrum’ to describe different colors. He concluded that the color white consisted of several different colors. Albert Einstein received his Nobel Prize for his discovery of the relationship between color and matter.

Color is caused in part due to light absorption and molecular vibrations. These vibrations effect us in subtle and not-so subtle ways. Today everyone from business owners to airline seat designers knows that color can have a powerful effect on important things like productivity, happiness, and comfort.

Lately people have started seeking out these effects through coloring books. This week “Adult Coloring Books” are the topping the best seller lists on Amazon. Mind you, these are not “Adult” coloring books, as in X-rated, these coloring books feature secret gardens, enchanted forests, and magic castles.

Some folks find these adult coloring books soothing and therapeutic; others call them puerile and ludicrous. Critics of the books lament our national loss of creativity (we used to do things like paint water colors for relaxation) and liken the coloring books to other mindless activities in which we hide from our responsibilities and real life. On the other hand, fans of the books find relief from the stresses of their daily lives in the peaceful pursuit that reminds them of childhood.

Sure we all enjoyed coloring books as kids. And we fully appreciate the power color has on our moods and perceptions. But for us, at Comfort Colors, the jury is still out on the “Adult Coloring Book.” We are not quite sure if its silly or soothing. What do you think?

And where is Bob Ross when you really need him?

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The First Day of Spring is Nigh

crocusAccording to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, spring, or the Vernal Equinox arrives on March 20 at 6:45pm EDT. The Vernal Equinox is the day when “day and night are each approximately 12 hours long (with the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days before the vernal equinox). The Sun crosses the celestial equator going northward; it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west.” (

We are not so sure about the parenthetical bit about the actual time of equal day and night. True, the days are getting longer. And we are enjoying the increased daylight – maybe more this Spring than historically – but here in the Northeast (our T-shirt company has two primary locations: one in Vermont and one in Massachusetts) we are in a bit of limbo. Some call is Stick Season. Some call it Mud Season. Both names are quite accurate.

And so Stuck in the Mud, as it were, we are very keen for signs of spring. For us, spring isn’t just another season; it’s a chance to begin again. Here are a few signs that came to mind:

  • Seeds for sale in local stores
  • Daylight Savings Time
  • The beginning of Maple Sugaring season
  • The return of the red-winged black birds
  • Ice out (this is when the ice on frozen lakes and rivers gives way)
  • Snow drops, crocuses, daffodils
  • The smell of damp earth
  • Temperatures above freezing
  • Nesting birds
  • The beginning of baseball season
  • Trout season
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Comfort Colors Fashion Report: Color of the Month White with Shades of Grey

While up here in Vermont and New England, the color of the month is white with shades of grey (and not the steamy kind of shades of grey, but those slushy ones cast by snowplows),  the Pantone Fashion Report for the Fall of 2015 is out and full of color! And just in time for New York Fashion Week – February 12-19.

As a T-shirt company we are interested in fashion. Because we feel that the beloved cotton T-shirt is everyone’s perennial favorite fashion statement, you might say that we are interested in the edges of fashion, maybe even the outskirts of fashion.

We love Pantone’s color of the year. Marsala is such a delicious color, we were thrilled to see Pantone’s top ten for 2015 Fall. Here they are:

Chromatography_1841_FieldDried Herb
Desert Sage
Stormy Weather
Oak Bluff
Biscay Bay
Reflecting Pond
Cadmium Orange
Cashmere Rose
Amethyst Orchid

We love them all! They have the hue and delectable, chewy feel of our favorite garment dyed Ts. We love the names as well. Each name describes its color quite well – except for maybe Reflecting Pond. This color could easily be a silvery grey or some kind of aqua marine blue, but for Pantone it is a deep blue-purple with brown overtones. It might sound like mud or a bruise, but it is indeed a velvety, sensual color. “Conveying a message of credibility, Reflecting Pond is a serious shade that speaks to the need for stability and security.”

Pantone’s executive director Leatrice Eiseman describes the palette this way: Juxtaposition of color from opposite sides of the spectrum emphasizes poise and confidence on the runway. The Fall 2015 palette is rooted in multi-faceted, androgynous colors that can be worn to portray effortless sophistication across men’s and women’s fashion; it is the first time we are seeing a truly unisex color palette.(

The colors are wonderful, but greatest thing about the Pantone colors this year is gender freedom (gender neutrality?). 2015 is the first year Pantone will not issue different palettes for men and women. “A grand shift towards an evolving color palette that is not reliant on color distinctions typically assigned to each gender. This Fall, designers look to sartorial styling and fabrics to define both a masculine and feminine interpretation of hues and color combinations.”

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Lincoln Misquotes and the Apparel Decoration Business

As the mid-term election results roll in, we grumble or celebrate. And then we look back fondly on leaders we have loved.

It is pretty safe to say that Lincoln falls into the category of loved ones. Even if your beliefs don’t support this, the Internet does. Lincoln is one of the most quoted (and misquoted) presidents of all time.

LincolnAnd why not? Who doesn’t love to quote Abraham Lincoln? He was colorful, witty, a legend, a genius, and an American hero. He is infinitely quotable. Quoting him feels as good as it makes us look to our peers, customers, and Facebook friends.

He is also infinitely misquotable. Presidential candidates misquote him, gubernatorial candidates misquote him, Justices of the Peace misquote him. He is misquoted pretty much evenly across party lines and affiliations. This is something to watch out for if you are running for office – or if you are in the apparel decoration business.

Great quotes sell ideas as well as they sell t-shirts. Misquotes can do the same, but they present a precarious balance between appearing brilliant and idiotic. A little good old fashioned fact-checking can keep you on the brilliant side of the scales. (Hint: identifying the original source will improve your chances.)

The Abraham Lincoln Research site has amassed several quotes falsely attributed to President Lincoln. Some of these would look great on a T-shirt:

  • “If I knew that I had eight hours to chop a tree down, I would spend the first six sharpening my axe.”
  • “The philosophy taught in the classroom in this generation will become the philosophy of the government in the next generation.”
  • “I am a slow walker but I never walk back.”
  • “Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it.”
  • “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them friends?”
  • “I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.”
  • “In the end it is not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.”
  • “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”
  • “Whatever you are, be a good one.”

Our all time favorite Lincoln misquote of course is this one (unattributed, and without a reputable source):

  • “The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity” – A. Lincoln



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Will your Favorite Fall Color Trends Keeping Working in Winter?

The leaves this year, especially in New England, have been more garish and spectacular than any other year in recent memory. Their brilliant Fall colors inspire what we do, what we eat, and especially what we wear. Just take a look around you. Even a passing glance at fashion on Pinterest reflects the foliage almost as clearly as a placid lake might. On Facebook, in the news, and on your friends and neighbors: Orange is the new black.

autumn_leavesOrange says earthly and outgoing. Orange says hip and cool, with a possible criminal element. We love it! But can we rock orange in winter?

Yes, by all accounts! Color Solutions International, We Connect Fashion, Fashion Snoops, and even the great Pantone all agree that you should keep it lively and keep it orange. Color predictions across the board agree that orange, blood orange to be precise, will continue to reign supreme even as the snow flies.

So, by all means, let the fall colors you love keep on rockin’ you right through ‘stick season’ into the new year!



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Fall Color: Autumn is Officially here!

maple_leaves_in_FallToday is the first full day of Fall. Autumn is Officially here! Being a t-shirt company from Vermont (and New England), we are particularly fond of this season.

There is something wonderful about falling leaves that brings out the magic of childhood. The Washington Post today had a great article about this morning’s Google Doodle on the Equinox and filled with Autumnal cartoon color. Check it out here.

To celebrate the occasion, we wanted to share some of our favorite quotes about Fall:

“I want to say something so embarrassing about September that even the leaves start blushing and turning red.”
― Jarod Kintz,

“Designers want me to dress like Spring, in billowing things. I don’t feel like Spring. I feel like a warm red Autumn.”
—Marilyn Monroe

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“But then fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
― Stephen King

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
― Henry David Thoreau

“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”
― John Donne

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
― Albert Camus

Have a terrific season.

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Red, White and Blue: Free to be a T-shirt?

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, and flag day only a few weeks ago, we are in the middle of a summer full of our favorite colors: red, white and blue.

We love our flag. But how much do we really know about it beyond Betsy Ross? There is that special fold we learned in the Girl Scouts, we should display the flag stars up, we should never let it touch the ground. We know the Star-Spangled Banner and the Pledge, but for most of us, that’s right about where flag knowledge ends.

American FlagHere are a couple tips on flag etiquette from ( that might refresh your memory:

  • The flag should be lighted at all times, either by sunlight or by an appropriate light source.
  • The flag should be flown in fair weather, unless the flag is designed for inclement weather use.
  • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.

Good behavior in regard to the flag is pretty straight forward, but Title 4 of the United States Code lays out a few  specific rules that may very well surprise you and your flag-adorned neighbors this Fourth of July. Here are some key articles that got our attention:

(d). The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

(i). The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

(k). The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.(

Uh oh! Title 4 of the United States Code prohibits the use of the flag as wearing apparel. Who knew? Maybe we are not quite so free as to wear a Red, White and Blue T as we’d like to be? Though some sources say that inappropriate flag wearing is punishable under federal law, the code is largely unenforced and possibly unenforceable. Whew!

We’re all for showing our patriotism – especially in T-shirts. Let’s go wild this Fourth of July!

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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.

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

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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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.” (

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.” (

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.” (

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
Celosia Orange
Radiant Orchid
Dazzling Blue

And these are the Men’s colors:
Placid Blue
Purple Haze
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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