In the United States, school colors are the colors chosen by a school
to represent it on uniforms and other items of identification. Most
schools have two colors, which are usually chosen to avoid conflicts
with other schools with which the school competes in sports and
other activities. The colors are often worn to build morale among the
teachers and pupils, and as an expression of school spirit.
School colors are often found in pairs and rarely no more than trios,
though some professional teams use up to four colors in a set. The
choice of colors usually follows the rule of tincture from heraldry,
but exceptions to this rule are known.
Common primary colors include orange, purple, blue, red, and green.
These colors are either paired with a color representing a metal
(often black, brown, gray (or silver), white, or gold), or
occasionally each other, such as orange/blue, red/green, or
blue/yellow. Pairing two metals, such as black/white, silver/gold, and
especially black/gold, is also a common practice. Finally, some
American schools, in a display of patriotism, adopt the national
colors of red, white, or blue.
In an effort to further establish identity and promote a standard,
many institutions often decree the use of specific shades of colors.
Maroon, generally regarded as a darker shade of red, is a common
primary color. Various shades of blue, from powder to Prussian, are
also in use; a few schools have adopted two different shades of blue
for their colors, with the darker shade serving as the primary. The
shade of gold can vary greatly even within an institution, from a
vivid yellow to a more convincing old gold.
Black, white and gray are often used as neutral colors for sets that
do not otherwise adopt them. This practice is especially notable in
basketball (where home uniforms are often white) and professional
baseball (where team colors are often used as trim for white or gray
Most competitive teams keep two sets of uniforms, with one emphasizing
the primary color and the other emphasizing the secondary color. In
some sports, such as American football, the primary color is
emphasized on home uniforms, while uniforms for other sports, notably
basketball, use the secondary or a neutral color at home. This is done
to avoid confusing the two schools' colors. In addition, various
groups that generate support for athletic teams, including
cheerleaders and marching bands, wear uniforms with the colors of
School colors have many non-athletic purposes as well. Members of a
university's community will often display them as a sign of support or
spirit for their particular institution. Likewise, during college or
university ceremonies, those schools which award an academic hood to
their students will generally abide by the American Council on
Education guidelines and use the school colors on the inside and the
disciplinary colors on the outside velvet trim (regardless of the
ceremony, recipients of a degree have the right to wear the hood
thereafter). Some doctoral robes will also be in the colors of the
university which granted the degree. At many private schools, or more
traditional state schools, "school colours" are awards presented for
achievement in a subject or a sport - See Sporting colours.
British and Irish universities traditionally have an academic scarf in
the university's colors, usually long, woollen and patterned only with
lengthwise stripes of varying widths. At collegiate universities such
as Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and Lancaster, each college has its own
colors and scarf. Other non-collegiate universities such as Glasgow
and Newcastle have scarf colors for each faculty.
^ "Guide to the University of Chicago
Color History Collection
1894-1911". www.lib.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2016-05-11.
^ "Princeton University - Orange and black -- the history of
Princeton's colors". www.princeton.edu. Retrieved 2016-05-11.
^ "History of Penn Colors, University of Pennsylvania University
Archives". www.archives.upenn.edu. Retrieved