Black, along with old gold and white, has always been one of the team colors, but it wasn't the first choice of original majority owner John W. Mecom, Jr. His preference was for Mecom blue, a medium shade which was used by all of his other investments. The NFL office, however, informed him that his proposed combination too closely resembled that worn by the San Diego Chargers. Although the Chargers were members of the AFL, the older league didn't want to offend its soon-to-be partner so soon after the merger. Mecom settled on black as the primary color as a nod to his financial involvement in the petroleum industry. "Black gold" is a term synonymous with oil. Although the Pittsburgh Steelers—who played a few home games in New Orleans during their early years to avoid conflict with the Pittsburgh Panthers football team—have long used black and gold as their colors, their shade of gold more closely resembles yellow, making the Saints black and gold compatible with the rest of the NFL.
Except for minor modifications, the Saints' logo and uniforms have basically remained the same since the club debuted in 1967. The team's logo is a fleur-de-lis (a symbol of the City of New Orleans and of France's Royal Family, which included the House of Bourbon), while its uniform design consists of gold helmets, gold pants, and either black or white jerseys. Minor changes to the uniform stripes and trim have been made throughout the years. The team wore black helmets during the 1969 preseason, but NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle barred the Saints from using the helmets during the regular season, since Mecom did not notify the league office of the change.
The Saints predominantly wore white at home when the club played at Tulane Stadium from 1967 through 1974 (except in 1969 and 1970), forcing opponents to suffer in their darker jerseys in the subtropical climate of New Orleans. When the surface at Tulane Stadium switched from natural grass to PolyTurf in 1971, field temperatures became hotter still. In Archie Manning's first game, in the 1971 season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, temperatures on the field reached as high as 130 °F (54 °C). The heavily favored Rams wilted in the stifling heat, and the Saints claimed their first-ever victory over their NFC West rivals, 24–20, on Manning's one-yard quarterback sneak on the last play of the game.
The Saints switched to white pants in 1975, coinciding with the team's move from Tulane Stadium to the Superdome, and have worn white at home numerous times since then. One year later, they started to wear black pants with their white jerseys, a move influenced by coach Hank Stram, who introduced red pants to the Kansas City Chiefs' uniforms in 1968. In an October 3, 1976 home game against the Houston Oilers, Hank Stram used the Saints' road uniforms, the white jerseys and black pants. The Saints lost that game 31–26. During the 1981–82 seasons (Bum Phillips' first two seasons as coach), the team wore white jerseys with black pants at home, but reverted to the black jerseys and white pants for 1983. They reverted to wearing gold pants with both their black and white jerseys in 1986 under new coach Jim E. Mora. From 1986 through 1995, the sleeves of the jerseys and sides of the pants featured a logo with a fleur-de-lis inside an outline of the state of Louisiana. The logo replaced the striping pattern that had been on the uniforms since the team's inception; save for color variations, the striping pattern was similar to that used by the Washington Redskins (until 1979), Green Bay Packers (until 1997), and Cleveland Browns (still in use as of 2013), which is likely why the change was made. That logo was removed in 1996 and replaced with a fleur-de-lis on both the sleeves and sides of the pants.
From 1996 through 1998, the Saints returned to gold numbers on both the white and black jerseys, but complaints about the numbers on the white jerseys being too difficult to read forced the numbers on the white jerseys to be changed to black in 1999. The Saints wore black pants with a wide gold stripe with their white jerseys in 1999, but following a 3–13 season and the dismissal of coach Mike Ditka, the black pants were mothballed by new coach Jim Haslett.