Lots of the people who visit this State Forty Eight website end up here because they’re looking for Arizona apparel. It makes sense that searching for clothes and accessories associated with the 48th state might lead you to a site named … well, you get it. And maybe you’re one of them. No matter what link you clicked to find us, we’re glad you’re here. But doing what we do here, offering what we offer, calling ourselves what we do, makes us wonder sometimes: How did this whole “clothes based on place” thing start? How did we end up with something like Arizona apparel to begin with?
And from what we’ve been able to determine, the tradition may have its roots — as so many things do — in ancient Greece.
Home vs. home team
We should specify that we think there’s a difference between “placewear,” like Arizona apparel, and “teamwear,” like jerseys, caps, and big slices of cheese on your head. (Question: Does it surprise you that someone who would sit outside in Green Bay’s sub-zero, sleeting weather to watch a football game might also wear a piece of cheese on their head? Yeah, us either.)
Team clothes, as best we can tell, do not go back to the Greeks. That’s not to say Greek sports fans didn’t have their favorites. They did, and their champions were regularly saluted with cheers and laurel wreaths and free products from vendors who wanted their endorsement. (This is true.)
What the Greeks didn’t have was teams. Most Greek sporting events were individual competitions, particularly when it came to the Olympics. So you couldn’t get a jersey that said
“Corinthia Crushers” to wear to all the games they didn’t have.
Now if you had a favorite runner, let’s say, and you wanted to show your support when you went to see him run — yes, it was always “him”; Greeks were enlightened about lots of things, but definitely not gender equality — you might choose to wear what he did. But that could be awkward since the Greeks always competed aíx gymnós. That’s Greek for “buck naked.” (This is also true.) So wearing what Phlash Phidippides was rocking for his last marathon — marathons also a Greek thing, BTW — wouldn’t really show your support, since he obviously didn’t have any.
Interesting fact #1: Whether or not the Greeks actually used to compete in every sport in the altogether was argued about by historians throughout the last couple of centuries until lots of archaeological evidence overshelmingly made the case. But that wasn’t enough for one British historian, who threw off his inhibitions, and his clothes, and ran a fair distance in London to make his point. He reported no discomfort. At least, no discomfort to himself.
Interesting fact #2: If athletes still competed naked, Green Bay wouldn’t have a football team. (For the record, we love our Green Bay customers. Go, Pack, go!)
So Arizona apparel doesn’t have its origins in Greek teamwear. There wasn’t any
What they wore over their teamwear
What there was was … let’s call it Greekwear. This was kind of a uniform that wasn’t really official, except everybody wore it. (And of course by “everybody” we still mean men. Seriously, women weren’t even allowed out of the house without a veil. And the Greeks were throwing up nude statues of men for centuries before they started letting marble ladies drop their gowns. Some definite issues there.)
So when you think of Greekwear, you’re probably thinking “toga,” but no. That was Roman. More on that in a minute.
So what was the ancient Greek version of Arizona apparel? Well, the handsome young Athenian heading out to the agora on a Friday night for the drop party for the latest lyre tunes by the Byzantium Blasters (ft. Nicephorus of Knossos) wore a chiton. Think of an XXXXL T-shirt that reaches almost to your knees, or in the case of women, to your ankles, but it didn’t really matter so much what the ladies were wearing because they weren’t going to be allowed to go to the party anyway. Then add a belt.Over that he might wear a chlamys, kind of like a blanket with a woven-in, Greeky border, draped around him and flowing casually but stylishly over one arm. If it was cold that week, he might add a himation, another cloak over the chlamys, because staying warm is all about layering, as our Green Bay friends know. (LOVE you guys!)
And that’s it. That’s Greek placewear.
But that’s ancient history
So why do we at SFE think that particular combo set the fashion trend for Arizona apparel, and all other placewear, even 2,500+ years later?
Well, the truth is, it didn’t. At least, not the look. But it was the attitude; the expectation that, “If you’re truly Greek, you’ll wear this.” The Greeks considered themselves superior to every other culture — even those Persians who kept kicking their butts and taking their territory — and they had expectations of their citizens for just about everything. If you didn’t wear that fashion ensemble, you just didn’t look Greek.
The Romans, then, took this a step further. They were Greek wannabes in a lot of ways — even though the Greeks were conquered by … the Romans — and they evolved Greekwear into the toga. Think of a chiton with lots more material. Add a few X’s to that XXXXL. The toga was such an important symbol of Roman culture that the day a young man got his first toga was a huge rite of passage.
And good news, ladies — you got togas, too! Less material, though, and really pretty darned attractive, if we say so ourselves. You could also leave the house. And the slaves who took care of your every need? Most likely Greek. (“Karma” isn’t a Greek word, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t around.)
As a Roman, man or woman, you could be recognized as Roman anywhere because you wore a toga. As they used to say, Roma togam et togam est Romae — “Rome is the toga, and the toga is Rome.”
(This is not true. They probably never used to say that.)
So why doesn’t our Arizona apparel include togas?
No, this isn’t an announcement that SFE is introducing a line of Roman-inspired flowing fashions with our Arizona-inspired logo on it — though that logo does look good on anything. What made the toga the first placewear wasn’t the look. It was the attitude. It was taking such pride in your homeland that it determined everything you wore. You wouldn’t be caught dead wearing anything but a true, patriotic, publicly approved Roman toga. It was wrong. It just wasn’t done. It wasn’t patriotic.
And that, readers, is why you can never have too much Arizona apparel from State Forty Eight; why you should be rockin’ that unforgettable map of our unforgettable state every day. It’s Pride of Place. Because what’s most important is not the clothes you wear, but what those clothes say about where your heart is.It’s why the great Roman poet, Ovid, wrote more than 2,000 years ago, Shirt Arizona noster, et nos Arizona shirt est — “Arizona is our shirt, and our shirt is Arizona!”
(OK, Ovid never wrote that. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true for State Forty Eight. And anyway he probably would have written it if he’d had one of our shirts.)