Whether you are a student at Purdue, work at Purdue, or simply call yourself a fan—there’s something special about injecting Boilermaker pride into your wardrobe. The black, gold and “Motion P” forge a sense of connection. They offer a unified way to wear our hearts on our sleeves. On game day, it’s easy to nail Purdue style. Head down to the campus bookstore, grab your favorite hoodie or logo t-shirt, and you’re set. Team gear is varied and plentiful. But what about those times when you want to show your pride outside athletic events? How do you Hail Purdue in an office or banquet setting, which might demand a more sophisticated look?
That’s the challenge facing Jeanne Boyd, Purdue Athletic Director Mike Bobinski’s other half. The couple’s life revolves around Purdue Athletics and the Greater Lafayette/West Lafayette community. In addition to attending home and away games for all Purdue sports, they represent the university at a wide range of local events. They are at most John Purdue Club functions and regularly entertain for the university in their home. They are also fixtures at Big Ten events and national championships such as the College Football Playoffs, College World Series, and Final Four tournaments.
Let’s just say Boyd needs a lot of black and gold in her closet! It’s a big change from her time directing the Men’s Final Four tournament…
“It was my job to administer the tournament with complete neutrality,” Boyd explained. “It would be unacceptable—and bad form—to show up at a site wearing one team’s colors over another. For 11 years, I wore nothing but neutral colors. I have more gray, beige, cream, brown, and black suits than any one person should own.”
Now, Boyd can proudly wear black and gold. However, she says finding Purdue-friendly clothing that is both age AND situation-appropriate can be challenging. She’s not the only one! As a Purdue employee and one of the university’s assistant cheerleading coaches, I hear people talking about this a lot (professors, coaches, university staff, donors, alumni etc.).
So… how do you bring “Boilermaker” into your business attire? In fact, with March Madness right around the corner, the question also goes beyond our institution. Pride in an Alma mater or favored university doesn’t stop on the court or field. In fact, it touches so many facets of our life, we need clothing options that allow us to exhibit that pride with the same range and versatility.
Purdue ladies heading courtside at Mackey Arena. (From left: Lindsay Veremis, Jamie Goodfellow, Jen Moreland, Jeanne Boyd) Photo: Kelly McPhail Photography
In hopes of providing a few ideas, I teamed up with Boyd and two other ladies who really know how to “Boiler Up” with sophistication. Each is connected to Purdue athletics, attends Boilermaker functions regularly, and is eager to share their personal take on Purdue style. [Huge thanks to local photographer Kelly McPhail of Kelly McPhail Photography for bringing our vision to life. McPhail specializes in family and newborn photography.]
First up in our search for Purdue style? Banquet attire. Work at a university long enough and you will attend plenty of academic or athletic-focused banquets. While you can certainly don other colors, Boilermakers always gravitate to black and gold. The trick is keeping an open mind when shopping for that color palette. You won’t find racks and racks of Boilermaker gold, so improvisation is a must!
Pro tip: Think broadly about your target color.
“The great thing about Purdue colors is that there are so many variations of “gold” that, when paired with black, still accomplish that Purdue look,” suggests Goodfellow. “I have everything from mustard, to khaki, to camel, to champagne, to cream – all of which pair perfectly with black trousers or a skirt, heels, and black/gold jewelry.”
We each have a slightly different “gold” in our banquet looks. However, when mixed with black, they still offer the cohesive, “on-brand” image we were seeking. You know immediately we are aiming for Purdue style. Prints in a feminine cut, like a pleated skirt or wrap dress, are wonderful banquet options. Alternatively, you can go Jen’s route and jazz up a sophisticated black dress with a bold necklace.
Jen’s look: Asymmetric Ruffled-Hem Midi Dress Jamie’s look: Mustard Wrap Dress (similar) Lindsay’s Look: Lace Top | Bow Heels | Skirt (similar) Jeanne’s look: Sleeveless Fit & Flare (similar) | Another Fit & Flare Option
Next, we turn to office attire. At Purdue, we’re fairly lucky to have school colors that can be considered neutrals. It’s not hard to find pieces that incorporate black and gold… But it can certainly be a struggle when you are in a pinch, looking for something specific! When it comes to clothing, have you ever noticed it’s nearly impossible to find what you need exactly when you need it? We can’t predict what color palettes stores will choose each season. Consequently, if you see something in Purdue tones, nab it right away!
Pro Tip: Shop year-round, always keeping an eye out for items that hit the mark
“I am always on the hunt for long-sleeved black pieces, since a ton of Purdue events are in the winter or chillier months,” Moreland explains. “Great silhouettes (that will also keep you warm) can be hard to find. I aim to seek out those perfectly versatile pieces you know will work for a variety of events. The brand isn’t as important, as long as I can mix and match.”
Look for subtle prints (e.g. pin dots, hounds tooth, or stripes) and textured fabrics. Tweeds and plaids are great choices because they are classic and can bring in both colors at once. And don’t discount black! It’s anything but boring. Goodfellow and Moreland both collect staple black pieces that can be worn casually in the office, then dressed up with a blazer and statement jewelry to transition into the evening.
Lindsay’s Look: Tweed Tasseled Skirt | Bell Sleeve Turtleneck Jamie’s Look: Caramel Blazer | Faux Leather Skirt | Similar Studded Heels | Jen’s Look: Jumpsuit (similar) Jeanne’s Look: Pin Dot Sheath Dress
Rounding out our Purdue “look book” is a set of creative casual outfits. These are the kind of Purdue styles you could wear on date night, to a casual yet elevated athletic department function, or to any low-key Boilermaker bash. They are intentionally fun and flirty, designed to bring out elements of each woman’s unique personal style/aesthetic.
Don’t shy away from unexpected pairings. For example, Goodfellow often mixes camouflage pieces or faux leather leggings with her Purdue gear, topping off the look with big hoop earrings, a baseball cap, and fun lip color. I like to dress up my Purdue T-shirts by knotting them and pairing them with an unexpectedly girly skirt (this post has a closer look at styling that type of skirt). You can achieve a similar vibe by topping a graphic T with a blazer and statement heels.
Pro Tip: Embrace Purdue-style prints and have fun with your accessories/shoes. Sometimes a jazzy shoe is all you need to make an all-black outfit look Boilermaker ready.
“I love to add some variety through accessories like shoes and clutches,” Moreland says. “Right now, I’m super into leopard/cheetah print to add some hints of pattern and color.”
Jen’s Look: Cheetah Skirt | Similar Low-Cost Amazon Find | Leather Moto Jacket | Black Lace Tank Lindsay’s Look: Denim Jacket | Purdue Cheerleading T | Tulle Skirt | White Beaded Earrings | Jamie’s Look: Spanx Moto Leggings | Striped Long Cardigan | Denim Shirt (similar) Jeanne’s Look: Off-the-Shoulder Romper w/ Pockets | Gold Strappy Heels | Black/Gold Mini Satchel
When you’re a Boilermaker, it’s only natural to want to dress the part! Since there’s no “one-stop-shop” for this type of Purdue style, we hope this post helps jump start your hunt for Boilermaker gear. We certainly had fun putting it together! In fact, this group of ladies hopes to see local stores and boutiques carrying more of this type of clothing. You’ll find a few additional Purdue-inspired outfits below.
“There are so many of us who are looking for more than a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or golf shirt,” Boyd explains. “It doesn’t even need to be branded necessarily. We’re looking for items we can wear to work, grab dinner/drinks, then head to the game.”
While local shopping options are improving, Boyd says we still have a ways to go. Most of the women she talks with continue to shop for Purdue-inspired clothing and accessories in Indianapolis, Chicago, or online. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a variety of options locally and keep those dollars in our community?” she says.