A football game on a football field.

Game Day Fashion? It’s a Southern Thing

Doesn’t everyone get dressed up for game day? Apparently the answer is no, and it’s something that may be unique to the South.

Football, food and fashion go hand in hand when it comes to game day at some Southern colleges. Believe it or not, some women have a calendar of upcoming football seasons with each game marked with a designated color that they will match with their outfits. 

Football is as big as it gets in the South, and many live for game days. College students often rush around seeking the perfect dress that matches their team’s colors. Then they curl their hair and put on full makeup and high heels before spending the next eight-or-so hours tailgating and baking in the hot sun. 

Sure. To anyone who has not experienced a game day in the South, this sounds completely insane, but for those of us who were raised this way, it is just the way we do things.

I have grown up attending SEC football game days at the universities of Alabama, Mississippi, Auburn, and numerous other schools of the Southeastern Conference, so I knew what to expect and how to properly dress. I never stopped to think schools outside the South did game days any differently until I had a conversation with a girl from Chicago during the first week of school. 

Two young women are dressed for game day.

I asked if she had her “blue” outfit picked out for the first game, and she gave me a look like I was speaking a new language. “I was just going to wear a red Ole Miss shirt, jean shorts, and tennis shoes,” she said.  

I definitely did not want to make her feel bad, but knowing what I do about the Grove on game days, I wanted to help her. I told her I had a really cute blue dress she could borrow, and she texted me from the Grove saying I had “saved her from embarrassment.”

One of my best friends attends the University of Alabama. “Getting dolled up and looking nice for game days is a tradition,” she said, “and looking your best makes the day more fun.”

She said shopping around Tuscaloosa for that perfect game day look is something that she looks forward to. “No matter what boutique you walk into during football season, there is always a section dedicated to game day outfits, and it is something that I think brings people together and women enjoy.”

My friends who attend Clemson, Auburn, and Mississippi State University all said they love dressing up for game days and think of it as Southern tradition and a fun way to express themselves and their school spirit. 

A young woman holds a pom pon.

In the South, we also dress up for church and going out with friends. We see fashion as a way to express ourselves and put our best foot forward. My mom has always jokingly told me that if we look good for the games, we play good. Things can get a little bit competitive, and girls try to one-up each other with their outfits, but I simply do it for the love of shopping.

The South holds many traditions, and I hope college game day fashion is one that stays. Feeling like you look your best for a long day of tailgating and football makes all the difference, and shopping just never gets old. It’s just one of those things you have to experience to understand.


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