Throughout their history, St. Mirren’s colours have been predominantly black and white, more often than not, in the form of vertically striped shirts. However for the first six years of their existence the team played in scarlet and blue jerseys! It wasn't until the start of 1883-84 that the registered colours changed to black and white. There are several theories as to why these colours were chosen, all with some relevance to the club and Paisley.
1) The Cluniac Monks who founded Paisley Abbey and who played a major role in the development of the town wore black and white robes.
2) Paisley used to play host to an annual charity match between sweeps and bakers (black soot and white flour!)
3) The River Cart which splits into the White Cart and Black Cart travels through Paisley and its surroundings.
The colours have changed little since that time, but the design has gone through many different guises.
In the 1880’s the stripes were horizontal for at least one season.
All white strips or white tops and black shorts have appeared at several points in history, most notably in 1919 when they won the Victory Cup and again in 1943 when the Summer Cup was won. Other seasons where white has been worn include 1935-36, 1959-60 and 1962-63. A novel touch for ’62-63 was the white top, but with the retention of the stripes…..on the shorts! White has also been a feature of ‘away’ or 2nd strips with many seasons seeing all white kits.
However the generally accepted colour for Saints 2nd choice strip is red and the majority of 2nd kits have contained a large amount of red in some form.
However, there are several references to Saints wearing blue strips for matches, although no reference to whether they were 1st, 2nd or ‘borrowed’ strips. The blue strip was first recorded in 1926 for a match against Celtic.
More recently a blue strip has been worn on ‘one-off’ occasions because of colour clashes. In 1985 during the away leg of the UEFA Cup tie against Slavia Prague, Saints had to wear blue as Slavia’s red and white strip clashed with both Saints home and away choices. Again in the early 1990’s a blue strip was worn for a match at East End Park against Dunfermline.
During the 1980’s and 90’s there were several strips that broke with tradition.
Between 1984 and 1987 the top was white with thin black pinstripes and a silvery shadow stripe, but this strip was very popular with the public, possibly because it was the strip worn for the 1987 Scottish Cup win. In 1994-95 instead of stripes, the home strip was made of black and white halves, which was not too popular with the fans and normal stripes were resumed the following season. The pin stripe effect was reproduced in 1996-97 with the home top being white with black and grey pinstripe and the away top being black and having white and grey pinstripe, both popular choices.
The away strips during this period also showed some major changes! 1989-91 saw two change strips, red tops and black shorts and white tops with black shorts. 1993-94 saw a very contemporary design with red, black, white and grey being merged into random looking stripes. 1994-95 once again saw two change strips with the 2nd choice being a yellow top with black sleeves and shorts and the third choice being a red and black striped shirt with black shorts.
Blue was to make a re-appearance in seasons 1997-98, 2002-03 and 2007-08, but it is the strip for 1998-99 that caused the most shock to fans when it was revealed to be bright orange! A complete break away from tradition!
Over the early part of the new century strips were simple and generally well accepted by the fans.
In 2011 Saints signed a deal with sportswear firm JD Sports who were able to design unique strips for the club. This meant that for the first time in a while the strips had stripes all over rather than a white or black panel on the back to accommodate white/black numbers. With the striped backs numbers were now red.
The first couple of strips produced during this partnership were popular with all, however for 2014-15 the design changed radically with very narrow stripes and a lot of yellow included in the design. Many fans of a certain generation immediately recalled the infamous 'bib' of the late 80's.
The away strip was also to split the fans. It was bright yellow with, in another throwback to the bib, a striped panel at the chest, which actually displayed a good looking striped top that would have been popular! They followed this up with a simple striped version in 2015/16 which redeemed them a little. For 2016/17 the strip paid homage to the Scottish Cup winners of 1987 with white shirt with black pin stripe. The names of the winning squad were included into alternate white stripes giving a shadow stripe effect as in 1987.
A change of suppliers in 2017/18 saw Joma produce a popular striped version which will always be remembered as the Championship winning strip. They followed this with another simple striped version in 2018/19. A throwback to the early 1980's was in evidence for 2019/20 with just two vertical black stripes on a white top. However the stripes were thinner than the 80's version and with the sponsors logo applied it drew comparisons to someone wearing lederhosen! The all white back was also not too popular with the support.