The adoption of light blue and white as UNC's colors dates back to the 19th Century. When the University reopened following the Civil War, most social activities were directed by two literary societies, the Dialectic and Philanthropic. The official color of the Di was light blue and that of the Phi white. Since society membership was compulsory for all students, the opinions and activities of these organizations were by nature of circumstances all embracing. It was the custom for all men from localities west of Chapel Hill to affiliate with the Di and generally for students from the east to become members of the Phi.
On public occasions the student officers, marshals and ball managers were chosen equally from the membership of the two societies. It had long been the custom of each society for its members to wear its color on such occasions. However, the chief marshal and chief ball manager, one from the Di and the other from the Phi, wore combination light blue and white regalias and rosettes signifying that they represented the whole student body.
Later, when intercollegiate athletics were established, the question of what to wear became a problem. Certainly, the students wanted to be associated with the University, but the school had no official colors. So it seemed only natural for the fans to adorn themselves with the same combination as that used by the chief marshals and ball managers, colors which represented not membership in a society, but a University student body.