Editor's note: In my professional capacity, I am the Director of Communications at Harcum College, whose brand color is purple. This essay first appeared in the College e-newsletter:
At age 20, I purchased my first evening dress on a waitress’s salary. I plucked it off the discount rack at Boscov’s for a benefit show at the old Rajah Theatre. I might have paid $30 bucks for it. The two-piece ensemble was a royal shade of purple (much like Harcum’s signature purple) with a sparkling bolero jacket, which I thought would help me stand out on stage.
Sadly, my delight at nabbing a bargain gown was short-lived. I'd been blinded by the price tag. The dress was neither the right color for the gig nor an appropriate style for someone barely 20-years-old. In retrospect, I must have looked like a mother-of-the-bride who mistakenly wandered onto the Rajah stage en route to a wedding, compared to the other female singers looking svelte in basic black.
For decades after that show, as much as I admired purple in nature—purple pansies, purple martens, and purple sunsets— I avoided wearing any purple whatsoever: plum, violet, mulberry, orchid, mauve, and lavender. No matter the shade, all shades of purple were off limits.
Since I’d never made my peace with purple, naturally the universe would intervene, forcing me to face my purple avoidance issues when I applied for a job at Harcum College in 2013. On the first day of interviews, I was greeted by dozens of purple tulips waving in the spring breeze outside Melville Hall. “I love purple,” I told the interviewers, trying desperately to convince myself that purple and I had kissed and made up, while clutching a folder from Human Resources stuffed with profusely purple publications.
Cue the tumbleweeds and the tinwhistle. Were I to be offered this job, the color purple and I were in for a showdown in Melville Hall.
A few weeks into the job, I realized I simply had to embrace my inner purple. I mean, I must have loved purple at some point. Why else would I have chosen a boldly purple dress for a fundraising show many years ago?
Seeing many College personnel decked out in purple at my first New Student Orientation further amplified my deficit situation regarding purple garb. The only purple on me was the Harcum lanyard around my neck. So, I set about to correct that, with a little help from my Bon Ton charge card. First I bought a purple sleeveless tee. Then a sequin-studded purple smock. And a purple corduroy jacket followed by another purple shell, this one flecked with metallic silver.
Now, life is one big purple extravaganza. While there is only one official shade of Harcum brand purple, it’s been fun adding to my growing personal collection of purple paraphernalia, including a pair of purple polyester trousers, which Danyele Dove noticed last Friday. “You havepurple pants,” she said knowingly, like someone who has considered bumping up the purple quotient in her wardrobe, too.
I resisted the urge to say she’d be seeing more purple pants and jackets and maybe even a purple gown for the Centennial gala. Now that I’m a Harcum College employee, purple is hip. It’s down. It's up. It's definitely the new black.