Category Archives: Cotton

Cotton, Keeping Cool and Keeping Your Cool

Keeping cool and keeping your cool can be challenging as we hit the dog days of summer head on. When the forecast includes words like sweltering and scorching, the blood pressure can skyrocket, just like the temperatures. When it comes to keeping cool and keeping your cool, cotton can help!

fanOne of the biggest keys to keeping your cool when it gets hot is getting enough sleep. This is where cotton comes into play – it is the ultimate fabric for a good night’s sleep.

Sleep like an Egyptian! Wrap yourself in damp cotton (cotton sheets or an over-sized cotton t-shirt). Cotton breathes. Its evaporative properties can help you get some shut eye when the nighttime temperatures don’t let up. Add a little air current to the mix and you’re in business.

The ancient Egyptians had this method down. Thousands of years ago they used an ingenious form of air cooling. Windcatchers, or wind shafts were built on the rooftops to catch the evening breezes and funnel them over water thus carrying cooled air into the sleeping quarters. You can recreate this effect just by putting a bowl of ice in front of the fan. Sleeping with a frozen hot-water bottle can also bring some relief.

During the daytime, ancient Egyptians dressed head-to-toe in cotton – to keep the sun off and to catch the breeze. Many modern Egyptians do the same. The Jellabiya “is basically an oversize long sleeved shirt that covers the entire body in a baggy piece of fabric.  It is normally loose fitting for ultimate comfort and style!” (Check out this wonderful man-dress here:

Breathability is one of the great inherent characteristics of cotton. Each of the fibers of cotton fabric transports moisture (and air) from one side to the other. If your body is sweating, cotton will move the moisture away. If your cotton is cold and wet, the fibers will move that cool moisture to your skin – a fan helps facilitate this movement.

Be cool.



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Keeping the Sun off: T-shirt Vs. Sunscreen

sunscreenSunscreen has been all over the news lately. It happens every summer, but this year there seem to be more warnings about the potential dangers of the ingredients found in many sunscreens. These stories have gone viral.

Consumer Reports warns against spray-on sunscreens for kids, claiming the spray-on type of sunscreen puts children at risk for asthma or allergy attacks. A Florida  news source (and who knows sunscreen better than Floridians?) called Click Orlando reports:

Flip over your sunscreen. Take a look at the roughly 25 ingredients. The environmental working group or EWG — an organization that focuses on product safety — says some of these chemicals are cause for concern.

Like Oxybenzone. This chemical penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can also trigger allergic reactions.  One study links oxybenzone to endometriosis.

And look out for Retinyl Palmitate which the EWG claims may speed development of skin tumors and lesions.

Those chemicals are why dermatologist, Dr. Kathleen Judge prefers her patients to use physical sunblocks. (

Business Insider counters with:

“The short answer is that while people have raised legitimate questions about possible harmful effects of sunscreen, the harms that come from too much sun exposure are clear, known, and often deadly. There’s no contest.

In fact, researchers are aware of consumers’ simmering fears about sunscreen and have looked closely at the evidence on both sides. In a 2011 study on “sunscreen controversies,” a team of doctors from Memorial Sloan-Kettering did a thorough review of previous research in order to answer the three main questions people have about sunscreen:

  1. Does it protect against skin cancer? (Yes.)
  2. Does it cause Vitamin D deficiency? (No.)
  3. Are toxic chemicals in sunscreen harmful to human health? (No.)

…The researchers also take care not to dismiss concerns about some ingredients, like oxybenzone, in sunscreens. They discuss at length the growing body research around the effects of such compounds, which have been tied to changes in hormone activity, among other things.But while caution is not unfounded and there is still more work to be done, most evidence suggests that when used on human skin in appropriate amounts, these ingredients are safe.” (

desert_sunAt the end of the day, too much of a good thing (sunshine) is not great for your skin. suggests that clothing should be our first line of defense against the sun’s harmful rays. Though our image of desert dwellers is largely influenced my film and the media, people who live in the sun tend to cover up. Clothing protects us by absorbing or blocking much of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

“The more skin you cover, the better…” ( But how much better? Weave and fabric are obviously important. Some materials are better at absorbing UV that others; thicker, tighter weaves block more light. Color is potentially more important. “Dyes work by absorbing various frequencies of visible light, and many of them will absorb UV too. Of course, high light absorption at visible frequencies doesn’t necessarily imply high UV absorption, but as a general rule of thumb, white or lightly colored fabrics do tend to let more UV through than darker fabrics.” (

Blue jeans have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 166, while heavy twill denim in white rates a 12. Your typical lightweight cotton t-shirt has an SPF of 4, dyed blue, that same shirt goes up to an 18.

While we are still on the fence about the dangers of sunscreen, we are pretty sure that color is good for summer sun protection. And the only reported side effects of wearing a dyed t-shirt in summer are looking and feeling cool.

Keep cool.


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Cotton Weather and Signs of Spring

It is not yet t-shirt weather up here in the Northeast, but we have seen the very first sign of Spring: seed catalogs. The long winters in Vermont and Massachusetts leave gardeners (and other warm-blooded creatures) hankering for Spring. We need a little sunshine and the seed catalogs that arrive by mail right around this time of year have been a beacon of hope for almost two centuries.

cottonTheir promising images of blossoming green plants made some of our fans wonder about cotton plants. What kinds of weather can they tolerate? How far north can they grow? Should we start cotton seedlings indoors like some people start tomatoes?

The saying goes like this: “Cotton grows best in the best climate.” Cotton growers and snow-shovelers will agree that we do not exactly have “the best climate” here in the Northeast.

Our home states of Vermont and Massachusetts are in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 – 6. To give you an idea of how the Hardiness Zones work, Zone 2 is up north around the Canadian border, Zone 10 is at the southern tip of Florida. The Zones are geographically defined areas distinguished by average annual minimum temperatures. Cotton is Winter hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 11, it does not like to get much colder than 30° F.

Though cotton grows all over the world, it needs a long, moist season in a temperate to hot climate. That’s why our VP, Kevin Camisa has so many friends in warm places. The cotton for most of our garments is grown by American Farmers in the right Hardiness Zones, where t-shirt weather starts early.

To our friends in New England, hang in there. Spring will be here before you know it. Stick to planting things like tomato seeds and zucchini. We’ll leave the cotton growing to those in the warm.

image source:

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Bruce Springsteen, T-shirts and the USA

Among all the aging rockers in America, Bruce Springsteen looks the best in a  T-shirt, without a doubt. His recent appearances on Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night only underscore his right to bare arms. The definition in the 64-year-old rock star’s biceps makes the 39-year-old Fallon look a little soft. But these two have been having quite a bit of fun together lately.

Whether or not you agree with the sentiment behind their parodies (“Sexy and I know it,” “Whip My Hair,” and “Gov. Christie Traffic Jam”), you must admit that they are great fun musically. You might even succumb to an unintentional “ear worm” and replay these catchy melodies over and over again in your mind’s ear.

Of course, “Born to Run,” even with its temporary new lyrics, brings to mind another great Springsteen anthem about origins: “Born in the USA.” Like our customers, Comfort Colors loves this one, not just because it is a great song. It describes our t-shirts. We use cotton from the United States.

Facebook friends have asked, so here’s the whole scoop from our VP, Kevin Camisa: “Most of our garments are made in Mexico or Honduras from USA Raw Materials. The cotton for these products is from American Farmers, it travels to Mexico or Honduras for sewing. The garments then travel back to either one of our two New England Dye Houses for coloring and finishing. It means much to us on the side of both Human Rights and Environmental Certifications in the work that is done on our goods outside the USA. All our factories meet stringent standards. When we look at what is done in the USA prior to work outside the country and then coming back to us for additional value added USA manufacturing, we are proud to say that our products have many more ties to the USA than we promote.”

In case you missed it, this one is pretty funny:

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Cotton: Let’s Sing About It!

At Comfort Colors, many of us sing at work, but you might not want to hear that particular chorus. Instead we thought we’d take a look at cotton songs in history.

The connection in American history between cotton and slavery is impossible to ignore. While most cottons songs did not ignore it, many glorified the relationship by depicting the demeanor of slaves as joyful at their work. Here are a few American Folks songs about cotton:

Cotton-eyed Joe – This song even has an associated dance! Though it is usually associated with the American South, these days, Cotton-eyed Joe predates the Civil War. The song – and accompanying dance – have many, many variants.

Pick a Bale of Cotton – Sure singing on the job makes the day pass and can ease the burden of work.. but a bale of cotton weighs 500 pounds! It took more than music to lift.

Pickin Cotton All Day – A song recorded by Bessie Brown in the 1920s. Though the song is filled with hope, it does not glorify slavery as some historic cotton songs did. She sings: “All my life, I’ve been makin’ it. All my life, white folks takin’ it.”

This last song, Cotton Fields, may be the most popular of the bunch, though this version sung by white surfer dudes in Hawaiian shirts made us scratch our heads:

This song, this version of this song, was number one in four countries! Who knew?

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Cotton Stocks, King Cotton, and Comfort Colors

An actual image of King Cotton was hard to come by, but we think he looked something like this...

An actual image of King Cotton was hard to come by, but we think he looked something like this…

When we think of cotton stocks, many of us think of the number of Comfort Colors T-shirts we’ve got neatly folded in our clothes drawers. A Twitter search for “Comfort Colors” paints a great picture of this notion. A Google search for “Cotton Stocks” produces more than 13,800,000 results.

The latest cotton price and NASDAQ chart will tell you there’s more to it than colorful, awesome Ts. Cotton is kind of a big deal when it comes to stocks. Here’s how Investopia describes it:

“King Cotton” has been around for thousands of years. Independently discovered in both the Old World and New World, no other commodity has created more controversy, built more nations, enriched more lives and caused more suffering. Extensively cultivated in India for 6,000 years, cotton became the darling of the British Empire via the Dutch East India Company during the 18th century.

As slavery began to take root in the U.S., cheaper and heartier cotton from the South began to supplement and later replace Indian cotton. This coincided with Britain’s desire to de-industrialize India’s cotton industry and expand its own during the 19th century.

Wikiinvest tells us:

Cotton is a basic crop that is a major input for the textile, agriculture, and food industries. 64 percent of cotton is used for apparel, 28 percent for home furnishings, and 8 percent for industrial products. In the US, $120 billion of business revenue is stimulated by cotton.

Cotton is King. And you thought it was just another great t-shirt…

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Bonny Prince George and the Emperors New Clothes

The news is still packed with articles about the new Royal Baby. Now that he has a name, we have even reasons to love the Bonny Prince George. He is, after all Princess Diana’s grandson…Some argue though, that they don’t care about the new prince, that he is not news, that the Royals are ancient history, that his story is the social media version of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Emperors-New-ClothesFor those who might not remember the Hans Christian Anderson tale: “Once upon a time there lived a vain Emperor whose only worry in life was to dress in elegant clothes. He changed clothes almost every hour and loved to show them off to his people.” Two tailors convinced the Emperor that they “had invented an extraordinary method to weave a cloth so light and fine that it looks invisible. As a matter of fact it is invisible to anyone who is too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its quality.”

In the end, the fabric was indeed invisible to everyone because it did not actually exist. The Emperor was parading around with only his um royal scepter…

We are pretty sure the new emperor-to-be, Prince George, will not be wearing such fabric. Instead he’ll wear cotton. He’ll wear cotton for its comfort and breathe-ability. Like most new moms of pampered babies, the Duchess will want only the best fabric next to her son’s royal skin. Cotton, of course.

Though we do have a great line of kids cotton clothes, we are not going into the nappy business…unless there is some kind of decree or something. All hail Prince George!

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Cotton Beyond the T-shirt

george-washingtonCotton is king of the textile industry. Of course it is our favorite textile for making the most comfortable t-shirts in the world. But cotton has many more uses. Thousands more…

Any parent of little kids in the United States has been the adoring recipient of a cotton ball masterpiece. Be it a bunny or a snowman, the cotton ball is the preferred medium for kindergarten artists across the country. (In honor of Independence Day, we have included two cotton ball George Washington portraits in this post.)

Cotton is also used in everything from fishing nets to banknotes. Here’s the short list of great things made from cotton:

  • The seeds of the cotton plant can be used to make oil or margarine
  • Cottonseed oil is also used in products like soap, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, rubber, artificial leather, paint and plastics
  • The leaves and stalks of the cotton plant are plowed under to improve the soil
  • cottonball-washingtonSome parts of the plant are used for animal feed
  • Cotton can be woven or knitted into velvet
  • Cotton hulls are used for fertilizer, fuel, and packing material
  • Cotton waste is used to grow mushrooms
  • Cotton fibers are used in automobile insulation
  • Cotton stalks are used to make pressed paper and cardboard
  • Researchers at the Cornell University announced the development of a new type of cotton fiber, which has the ability to conduct electricity just as well as metal wires can (

Cotton is used for rope, medical supplies, art canvases, diapers, paper, even explosives. But, this Fourth of July,  leave the explosives to the professionals! Have a happy and safe holiday.

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