Dressing for NU spirit: Purple worthy of the (Wild)catwalk

Sydney Zink, Columnist

How do you dress to express your Northwestern purple pride? If you’re still loyal to a questionably clean T-shirt you got for free your freshman year, it might be time to change things up. Beware of misconceptions, though: Spirit gear doesn’t mean just dressing like the athletes you’re cheering on; purple basketball shorts and sweatshirts are not all that’s at your disposal. Experimenting with NU colors and our mascot is a fun expression of spirit, but taking purple and cat print a little too far risks evoking the Cheetah Girls. Here are some examples of how to incorporate fun, alternative expressions of purple school spirit in your wardrobe without wearing a “Northwestern” sign on your chest — literally, considering some hoodies — to get the message across.

Blazers, sport jackets and suits

It’s no coincidence “blazers” help make up the word “trailblazers.” One way to make a bold statement without bold “Northwestern” lettering is by wearing a velvet blazer in a plum or byzantium shade. Hey, Justin Bieber did it. However, if you prefer a more subdued route, express your school pride with a soft lavender pinstripe or overcheck pattern in your next suit; a gray base complements these muted purple patterns nicely. As for a solid suit without pattern, an indigo or dark purple can project major sophistication; if you’re going to taunt the other team with jangling keys, this is the power suit that takes such action seriously.


Winter is the season of crazy socks, but the purple socks idea, like the toes of many pairs, has been thoroughly worn out. Take a step toward shoes instead to get cat-happy with various purples. Dark suede loafers work well with cuffed pants, and wisteria-paneled oxfords are worth early consideration for the spring. Think beyond purple shoelaces and consider other areas of your shoe for purple accents, such as the toe tip, the buckle on your monk-strap shoes or even just the lining of your sneakers in place of a been-there purple logo. A stripe along the sole is a crafty slip of purple to enhance shoes of any kind.

Casual style

Choose a plaid button-up that has a purple streak, or go for an eggplant-colored vest. Also consider narrow straight-leg trousers in a variety of shades, whether wine-like purple or an adventurous royal tone. A racer jacket with deep purple lining or a purple metallic zipper is another trendy pay-off. Instead of going for purple sleeve buttons, one clever alternative is purple-stitched buttonholes. Combining all these suggested additions is likely too over-the-top for a single coat, but wearing an item with only one of those features allows for that purple to really stand out.

Such uses of purple, like our school teams, are worthy winners that will have your roaring fashion bringing out the “wild” in “Wildcat.”