By Liz Gunn || It’s that time of year when two of my favorite things collide; college football and fashion. One of my favorite quotes on that subject is this …
“In the East, college football is a cultural exercise. On the West Coast, it is a tourist attraction. In the Midwest, it is cannibalism. But in the South, college football is a religion, and every Saturday is a holy day.” – Marino Casem, Alcorn State University.
In South Carolina – and most of the Southeastern region of the country – fashion is a top priority during football season. The SEC is particularly known for its well-dressed women, of course the South is also known for triple digit temperatures and suffocating humidity, so one has to be thoughtful in selecting the right ensemble.
Don’t get me wrong – if you’re the kind of girl who wants to wear your lucky Gamecock T-shirt and a pair of cut-offs to a ballgame, go ahead. But if you want to dress the part for an outdoor cocktail party with 85,000 of your closest friends, you might want to keep reading.
I love fashion, but by no means do I consider myself an expert. Honestly, I don’t think there is such a thing. Fashion is just an expression of who you are, and who the hell am I to tell you how to express yourself? I’m just offering my advice for selecting game day appropriate attire.
The first and most important thing to think about is your shoes. FITS’ founding editor has a major shoe fetish, and he may actually have more insight on this topic than I do. But he doesn’t wear ladies shoes – not to my knowledge anyway – so here are my thoughts on how to choose the right shoes for game day.
The first half of the season is always going to be really hot. Blistering hot at times. That means anything too strappy and you won’t make it through your first beer. Also, don’t even dream of wearing brand new shoes to a football game. That’s the absolute least appropriate time to be breaking in shoes. Trust me: you WILL regret it.
My choice? A trusty pair of broken-in wedges can get you through the day and night. And if you’re more of a flats kind of gal, well you’re in luck: Jack Rogers and Tory Burch both make classic flat sandals in a variety of colors.
Of course if you’re looking for more of a steal than a splurge, there are great options that look very similar at just about any shoe store you walk into. My compromise is often this – wear a great, kick-ass shoe to your tailgate, but pack some flats for the game. Also, Band-Aid makes a great product called “Friction Block” that every woman should carry on their person at all times.
Once you have a shoe in mind, you can start thinking about clothing. Until it cools off, I nearly always wear one piece. Sun dresses, rompers, maxis – whatever floats your boat. Multiple pieces, like a top paired with shorts or a skirt, will require adjustments throughout the day.
Skirts and shorts have a tendency to ride up or twist out of place. Who has time for that?
One word of caution here– remember that you will likely be taking in a lot of liquid throughout the day. Even if you aren’t drinking alcohol, you should be drinking more than you normally would to stay hydrated in the oppressive heat. That may require more frequent trips to the little girls’ room, so don’t wear anything that requires you to unfasten thirty buttons – or anything that you have to pull over your head.
I once wore a jumpsuit that basically required me to get naked in order to go the bathroom. Lesson learned!
Also stay away from silk. Did I mention the humidity in the south? I hope this one is self-explanatory.
As far accessories go, less is more. Maybe it’s just me – but half way through any normal day at the office, I’m usually down to just my basic jewelry; because the watch, the bangles, the statement necklace have all gotten in my way. For a football game, I highly recommend modest jewelry. And for the love of God don’t wear anything too expensive, with the exception of your wedding ring. If you’re a good fan you’ll hopefully be jumping up and down to Sandstorm and high-fiving your neighbors all night – the loss of your heirloom, diamond earrings during the game could really put a damper on your night.
Faux diamonds and pearls will do, just this once.
Oh, and pack a bag. As an adult I have finally learned to be prepared, even and especially at a football game.
By the time kick-off rolls around, chances are you’ve been sweltering for hours on end. Don’t forget a brush, some powder, lip gloss, gum, the Band-Aid Friction Blocker I mentioned and deodorant. That’s right – there are some things even a spectacular outfit can’t fix.
Below I’ve put together some examples of great game day options. You’ll notice some of these go against the “rules” that I just set forth. Yeah, I’ve never been one for following so-called rules when it comes to fashion. I encourage everyone else to do the same – so do your thing, and above all – GO COCKS!
Liz Gunn is a wife, mom, author, businesswoman, travel enthusiast, food snob, fashionista, lover of great wine and the No. 1 Gamecock football fan … ever. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she lives in Columbia, S.C. with her husband and daughter.