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Intentionally Foul: Teams That Purposely Wear Multiple Shades of Purple

[Editor’s Note: For the fourth consecutive year, reader Kary Klismet is celebrating Purp Walk with a report on the apparently inexhaustible topic of teams wearing mismatched shades of purple. Enjoy!

This post is part of Uni Watch’s 2023 Purple Amnesty Day content. For additional background and details, look here.]

By Kary Klismet

Over the past three Purple Amnesty Days, we’ve looked at teams — notably the Los Angeles Lakers and Colorado Rockies — that have struggled to match the shades of purple in their various uniform elements. This year, we’re exploring an even more insidious phenomenon in the uni-verse: teams that intentionally mismatched their purples. Indeed, as astonishing as it may sound, there are teams out there that treat purple inconsistency as a feature, not a bug.

Any discussion of intentionally mismatched purple uniforms should start with Kansas State University. The Wildcats were possibly the first to unleash this phenomenon when their men’s basketball team debuted lavender away jerseys over darker purple shorts in 1973:

K-State maintained this signature style through the early ’80s before returning to their senses (to the extent that a purple-clad team can). Unfortunately, though, they couldn’t kick the lavender habit. After breaking out lavender throwbacks for a 2003 cameo, they revived these two-tone terrors as full-fledged alternates in 2018:

They still wear tweaked versions of that uniform to this day:

In 2019, they also added a throwback of their 1970s home uniform. While not as (in)famous as the road design, the home uni also featured mismatched shades of purple (throwback shown below, and here’s the original):

While the Wildcats have enjoyed plenty of publicity for the recent resurgence of their plethora of purples, they’d probably prefer we all forget their 2008 “homage” to their old lavender look:

The mismatched purples are bad enough, but the bizarre back stripes, tramp stamp, and billowy shorts are enough to put these frightful fauxbacks on the shortlist of worst uniforms ever.

Unfortunately, lavender lunacy isn’t limited to K-State, or to college hoops. If you look at the world of international soccer, you’ll find a distressingly large number of kits that have featured multiple shades of purple:

Closer to home, a new generation of North American clubs has drunk the (grape) Kool-Aid and mimicked their international counterparts:

In the midst of this plural plum pandemonium, one team still stands out: East Carolina University’s baseball team — which, of course, is the inspiration for today’s Purp Walk live event in Greenville, N.C. Normally content to wear one shade of purple, this year they doubled down with their new “powder purple” uniforms:

Come on, ECU! How could you have possibly thought that wearing such a two-tone chromatic catastrophe would look good? Wait — what was that about Uni Watch T-shirts? Uhh, as I was saying … only those with the utmost in sartorial sophistication can pull off a look this layered and complex. Well played, Pirates! And welcome to the Purp Walk party!

Comments (33)

    Kansas State’s original mismatch was the result of an order form color code error. Back then, you couldn’t get new jerseys next day, so they had to wear them. When Rolando Blackman was on the cover of SI in the uniform, it stuck.

    I think it was the same with the Lakers. I believe that, in the Los Angeles situation, the home and road jerseys were made by different manufacturers (back in the day, you got your uniforms from a local sporting goods store rather than shipped by Champion/Nike/Adidas/etc.

    Hi, “Quality control.” That’s simply not true. See my response to Justin Stuewe below as it relates to K-State. Put simply, the two-tone look was Coach Jack Hartman’s choice.

    As for the Lakers’ uniforms, I addressed that back in 2020: link and 2021: link. While it’s possible that different manufacturers might explain some of the Lakers’ inconsistencies, it doesn’t satisfactorily answer all the questions surrounding those uniforms.

    I was a big Lakers fan back in the day (70s-80s), and I remember some discussion (maybe Sports Illustrated or something) that the “mismatch” look was the result of different materials used for the jersey and the shorts, and how sweat during a game on the Purple jerseys added to the color contrast with their Purple shorts , a contrast that really didn’t seem to be so obvious with the Yellow/Gold home uniforms.

    Hi, Justin. With all due respect, your recollection is inaccurate. I did a ton of research for this story and everything I read indicates that K-State basketball coach intentionally introduced the two-tone purple uniforms to the team in 1973 to create a unique look. For example, check out the following:

    “While 40-plus years can cloud memories, most of the Wildcats on the 1973-74 season could agree on where the idea for the two-tone uniforms came from: Jack Hartman. The legendary K-State head coach got together with his longtime friend Jim Knight, who ran Knight’s Sporting Goods, the team’s primary apparel vendor out of Salina, to come up with the uniforms.”

    Source: link

    (That article has plenty of other information in it that shows the two-tone lavender looks was Hartman’s idea, and it’s linked in the story above.)


    “Hartman is credited for introducing a unique two-tone uniform for Kansas State to wear during away games – lavender tops and purple shorts, which the Wildcats used from 1973–1982. During that stretch, KSU posted a record of 186–81 (.697), appeared in five NCAA Tournaments, and won the 1977 and 1980 Big Eight postseason tournaments. Lavender jerseys have since been associated with success at Kansas State, and the school has brought back lavender jerseys on certain occasions as a throwback uniform.”

    Source: link

    By the time Rolando Blackmon was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated wearing those duds, they were on the way out. After having worn them for eight seasons up till that point, they wore them for only one more season – in 1981-82 – before retiring them.

    Paul, others may have said this, but: I love that on Purple Amnesty Day you still get in your digs in on purple by publishing Kary’s work. Good fun.

    Thanks, Tom! Glad you enjoy my mismatched purple stories! And glad you get the humor and intention behind it. Happy Purple Amnesty Day!

    I’d like them a lot better without the white-paneled trucker caps. Really wish those hadn’t been re-popularized in the 2000s. They look cheap.

    I’m with you, Randy, in disliking the “trucker” caps. Just not a graceful shape to my eye, especially the way the logo on the front of the cap rests uneasily at the bottom of a big triangular wedge of white. And yes, they tend to “feel” like they’re bargain-priced mesh caps. Otherwise, though, I love those ECU “powder purples.”

    I really hate “trucker” hats. Especially since I’m a trucker, so to me that makes any hat I wear a trucker hat, lol.

    Especially the purple ones, those look good.

    I agree on both counts. I like the “powder purple” but wish they had a solid hat.
    To me the trucker hat is like the 2008 K-State example. Generally, I’m ok with it the combo, but the unnecessary extra embellishment is an overreach.
    I am not a purple fan, I do like these. I always like the use of light & dark shades of the same color, light blue w/ navy blue is a top tier combo, the Bucks Irish Rainbow are one of my all-time favorites and I generally like almost all adaptations of the tequila sunrise template I see.

    Agree 100%, Mic, about combining differing shades of the same color. I love sky blue combined with royal or navy. And to my eye, the Padres brown goes great with their tan road uniforms. I’d much rather see two tones of the same color than the way so many teams just throw black or gray into their color scheme. I really like KSU when they include lavender in their unis but find them forgettable when they’re just purple and white, or even with their football team’s purple and silver.

    I don’t think I’ve seen those! Got a photo you can link?

    Thanks, Jared! Nice! Or rather, terrible! (You know, whichever…)

    Nice work, Kary!
    When I read your alliteration, I heard “Lost in Space”s Dr. Smith in my head for some reason.

    Thanks, Chris! Let’s just say that when I get rolling on the alliteration piece, my inclination is to write an entire story all with words starting with the same letter! :^)

    Ever since University of Washington football went with Adidas, their home and away jerseys feature a sleeve stripe that has a lighter shade of purple against the regular purple shade. It’s obnoxious, and feels very unnecessary.

    Hi, Chad! I’ve noticed those University of Washington football uniforms. I didn’t have room to fit it in this story, but let’s just say I’m keeping track of the Huskies’ purple perpetrations for the future!

    Paul, consider a trip up to Rochester, NY to our annual Lilac Festival, this year celebrating its 125th year! link You can get your fill of natural purples (“I actually think purple in nature is quite nice” – Paul Lukas), and maybe take in a Flower City Union soccer match, our local soccer team who celebrate the lilac history with their purple logo and kit. link

    I do believe that that the powder purples are the best baseball uniforms I have ever cast my eyes upon. Now we need to see powder green, powder orange, etc., etc. It’s new an innovative.

    Would your museum of chromatic catastophes include the Astros’ tequila sunrises (multiple shades of orange) and the Bucks’ Irish rainbows (green)? Or any of the myriad teams that have used multiple shades of blue? Just kidding: The last color combo I would ever use is pink and red.

    Hey, walter! If we celebrated Orange Amnesty Day or Green Amnesty Day around here, I just might write about those phenomena! :^) Until then, I’ll probably just keep paling this one note. (One note, many variations – sort of like one color, many different shades!)

    I like seeing K-State as the focal point of today’s story. I am over 50% done with my doctoral studies at K-State. I had a good time watching their sports teams this past season. I’ll be going to their Topeka CatBackers event later this month. EMAW

    They’re dark purple trimmed in lighter purple, just like the socks. Here’s a link with more details:


    But even if the shorts were blue (which they’re not), the uniforms still feature multiple shades of purple on the shirt and a lighter shade of purple trim on the shorts than featured on the main body of the jersey. So they’re still intentionally wearing multiple shades of purple.

    Purple Power! Forza Fiorentina, allez Anderlecht, komm auf TeBe, just to name a few soccer teams in beautiful purple. As for the K-state and ECU uniforms, I like them. Well, just being a bit obnoxious, sometimes purple can be gaudy or tacky, but as purple cannot defend itself in this green loving environment I want to stick up for it. Go Weber State Wildcats!

    Always loved Kansas State’s two-tone Purple uniforms, truly miss them as the transitioned out of it.
    At one point TCU wore lighter “violet” Purple as their primary “dark” color. TCU football in late 60s-early 70s wore lighter Purple jerseys with Silver helmets and pants. Truly unique.
    Very rare to find clips or photos in color of that TCU Football era. One defensive lineman made All America and he was featured in the Playboy Magazine article photo spread that year (1970 or 71).
    I once found one of those Light Purple jerseys for sale on Ebay, but passed as it was a size M, way too small for my Popeyes-addicted frame ….

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