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What to Wear to a College Football Game


College football stadium
Photo Credit

At most universities, attending at least one football game is a staple of the “college experience.” Even if your school’s team isn’t that great, it’s still fun to get together with your friends, experience tailgating, and cheer on your team from the stands.

However, dressing for a football game can be a tricky affair. For most of the season, it’s hot, sunny, and you’re packed into the stands with thousands of other fans. You need something that shows your school spirit but still looks cute and keeps you cool. University t-shirts (usually of the giveaway variety) are popular among many college game-goers, but when was the last time a boxy, unisex T-shirt flattered anyone? Read on for some tips to help you support your school in style.

Tips on What to Wear:

  • Invest in separates in your school colors. For example, the colors of my school are blue and grey. Over the past year, I’ve picked up a navy sundress, a casual gray skirt, and gray and navy tank tops that I can mix and match to wear to various Rice events. When I pair these with owl accessories (see the next tip), I look like my school’s number one fan but don’t sacrifice any of my fashion cred.
  • Keep your eyes open for themed accessories. Animal-themed jewelry has been very popular recently at chains like Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, and Urban Outfitters, so it shouldn’t be too hard — or expensive! — to pick up a ring, necklace, or bangle that shows your school spirit. Whether your mascot is an owl (Rice, represent!), tiger, or elephant, there’s probably some jewelry out there for you.
  • Look for “fashionable” versions of your school’s attire. Victoria’s Secret PINK, Old Navy, American Eagle, and Brooks Brothers are just a few popular retailers that have collegiate collections. If you’re lucky enough to go to a university that is included in these lines, you can pick up some seriously stylish apparel that shows your school spirit. Also, stores like Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, and even Target sometimes carry tops touting the logos of various universities, many of which have a vintage feel to them and are very cute!

College football fans
Photo Credit

Tips on What to Bring:

  • Pack light. The floor of a football stadium is not the ideal place to put your purse — it’s dirty, sticky, and someone could spill a drink on it or step on it. Instead, carry a cross-body bag that you pack with just the essentials. It won’t get in the way when you’re cheering and you don’t have to worry about losing it.
  • Don’t forget to wear sunscreen! Most stadiums have open roofs, giving you absolutely no protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Apply some sunscreen before you leave your dorm (bonus points if you pack a travel-size version in your bag so you can reapply later) and you’ll be able to enjoy the game worry (and sunburn)-free.

Outfit Ideas:

Here are two sample outfits you could wear to a football game – they’re both casual but each one incorporates unique details to make it a little more fun.

Outfit 1: Subtle Support

Shirt, Shorts, Sandals, Ring, Necklace, Bag

Outfit 2: Number One Fan

Football game outfit: University of Texas tee, shorts, simple sneakers
Shirt, Shorts (similar), Shoes, Earrings, Bag

Need more ideas?

Check out these past CF posts on football game fashion:

What Do You Think?

Do you go to your school’s football games? What do you wear? Do you have any tips on what to wear to athletic events? I’d love to hear from you, so be sure to leave a comment!

Posted on on September 16, 2011 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , ,

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47 Responses to “What to Wear to a College Football Game”

  1. 1
    September 16th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I like the Rice outfit, but the UT one is totally off base. First of all, what’s with the gray shoes? Trying to slip a bit of your Rice colors in there? ;) Other than that, this is an outfit more suited for watching the game from the couch rather than the stands.
    The UT ‘uniform’ for tailgating and games typically includes a cute pair of cowboy boots paired with a flowy burnt orange dress or a denim skirt and cute top. As the weather gets warmer, girls *might* wear skinnies with tall boots. We definitely step it up a notch when it comes to game day fashion and avoid t-shirts, jerseys and the typical fan attire you’ll find at your college book store. Your tip to shop for ‘fashionable’ versions of your school’s attire is right on…I just don’t see that in the outfit you picked.
    Go Horns!

  2. 2
    September 16th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Crystal: I loved hearing your take on the outfits! I feel like football games at private and public universities are different experiences and have different dress codes, so it’s interesting to hear what a typical UT game-goer would wear. I included the t-shirt to show the kinds of cuter school spirit attire that’s out there, but your outfits sound like they’re super stylish!

  3. 3
    September 16th, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Great tips. One of my fashion goals in college is to rock spirit wear in unique and fashionable ways. One critique I would supply is that sandals (and all open toe shoes) are not advisable, as not only will your feet be stomped on at some point, but if you go to a school like Oregon, the student section remains standing the entire time (which means good support is a must). Overall id say comfort is the most important thing–you don’t want your attire to get in the way of your fun!

  4. 4
    September 16th, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I totally agree with Crystal. Where I go to school, both of those outfits are way too casual for a football game. Even girls who aren’t in sororities (like myself) wear something dressier than a t-shirt and shorts. The outfits are very cute, but definitely not what you see on gameday.

  5. 5
    September 16th, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    My school wasn’t very big on school spirit, but the grad schools I’m looking into are a bit more. I know at least one of them is way into football. Super excited to represent wherever I end up!

  6. 6
    September 16th, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I agree with the other girls. I go to University of Alabama and even if you are not in a sorority, you are expected to be a little bit dressy. I don’t know if it’s a southern thing, but for the majority of girls going to a game in a tee shirt is unacceptable! Game day attire consists of a game day dress in school colors,cute flats or sandles, and accessories with the mascot or school colors!

  7. 7
    September 16th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    So weird how it’s SO different everywhere. I’d rather wear t-shirt and jeans to a game than dress up, who’s really paying that much attention to your cute flowy tops when they’re busy cheering and whatnot?
    These are cute but not that practical for a lot of games in the northwest where it’s actually cold and has ridiculous weather.

  8. 8
    September 16th, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    My one quibble is when you say for most of the season it’s hot and sunny–so not true if you’re in the Midwest like me. It’s already getting cooler here, and by mid-October, it will be full-on boots/coats/scarves season most of the time (Admittedly, STL can be a bit unpredictable). Once November/December come around, though, there’s no way you’ll be OK just wearing a tee shirt and shorts. Some cool-weather options would be much appreciated! I always have trouble trying to figure out how to layer and be warm but still show school spirit…

    I do think the first outfit is super cute for a warm day, and the UT folks might dress up a little more for their games, but here in the Lou I’d say we’re pretty casual for sporting events.

  9. 9
    September 16th, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    We don’t have a football team at our uni, but I guess people are trying to make it happen. We have other sports teams, though and there are always events pre-game where people pass out bead necklaces and other school-colored fan items. It’s like a mass of navy and gold. What we wear is somewhat casual but layered with lots of fun game-day accessories.

  10. 10
    September 16th, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    These are very cute looks but as a few people have mentioned, these outfits probably wouldn’t work at my school. Girls either wear a school t-shirt or an adorable dress (hopefully school colors but not always the case) with wedges or sandals. There’s a whole range for guys–some wear tshirts and athletic shorts but then there’s a ton of guys in dress shirts and bow ties.

  11. 11
    September 16th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    One thing to remember is that when it comes to school logo-ed clothes, it’s always better to buy authentic clothing from your college than to buy the cheap mass-produced junk at Wal-Mart. To me, it just doesn’t feel right to buy Wal-Mart versions of things that give no real support to the institution who’s logo is emblazoned on it. But I do know that many colleges don’t offer fashionable shirts — my best bet would be to DIY an authentic college tee. Seriously, just google “t-shirt hack”, “t-shirt refashion”… you’ll get a million of them, including sew-free options.

    Anyway, the items included in these are adorable! Looove the Dooney & Bourke bag in the second set.

  12. 12
    September 16th, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    As soon as I saw this post I knew there would be a bit of flack. Southern schools are always dressed up, and the Midwest and Northwest schools are crazy cold in the fall! I’m a fashionable girl, but when its below freezing at a game, a ski jacket or very heavy peacoat is what you’re wearing.

  13. 13
    September 16th, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    I go to the University of Michigan, and I would FREEZE if I ever wore these outfits. It’ll be in the low 60s tomorrow and the season is just starting. I wish you had cute game outfits for cooler climates since I always find it difficult to look nice while staying warm. T shirts and jeans are fine where I go to school since staying warm in the goal, but I’m also not a fan of your advice for finding accessories that match your school mascot (I’ve never seen a wolverine anything).

  14. 14
    September 16th, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Kaitlin: I go to Rice too! (Now I’m wondering which college you’re at). I think that since Rice football isn’t as big as it is at other college, fans don’t get as excited for games and can get away with wearing more casual clothing. I wonder if you read the “Trends on Campus” articles in the Thresher?

  15. 15
    September 16th, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    You guys have the best topics! Love your creativity! Well, game day to me means it’s time to chillax and watch some real football!! I guess I really don’t understand the dressy-theme thing at games..I rather be in comfy school tee and toms. I’m there to show school spirit not go clubbing (as I have seen some really raunchy outfits) but that’s just me :D

  16. 16
    September 16th, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    If you are at an SEC school or really any school in the south most girls will wear a dress in the school colors. In the fall they will still wear a dress and pair it with some boots and maybe a sweater!

  17. 17
    September 16th, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    PERFECT! I’m going to my first one tomorrow night! (: (: (:

  18. 18
    September 16th, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with your attire. It would TOTALLY work for me, since I’m at South Florida:) I couldn’t imagine attending a game in cold weather. Thanks for your tips! I got my first game tomorrow as well! Go Bulls!

  19. 19
    September 17th, 2011 at 1:16 am

    yeah at my school (university of Arkansas) we get really dressed up. Like skirts, heels, wedges. or the classic red dress and cowboy boots for the girls. and most guys where polos or button up shirts. it’s all about respecting your school here. I’m a freshman and my first game I wore a tshirt and added cute accessories to “stand out” but I was still under dressed

  20. 20
    September 17th, 2011 at 1:50 am

    To Kaitlin and Brittney: Fight fight never die! Blue gray in the sky! :)

  21. 21
    September 17th, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Omgosh. I want to know what college you are at Kaitlin! I had no idea other Rice people read this!!!!

  22. 22
    September 17th, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Love seeing a pic on here showing my school Baylor! Sic ‘em BEARS!!!

  23. 23
    September 17th, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Yeah, I agree with other girls from southern schools — at an SEC school you’ve gotta wear a dress! Preferably in garnet or black… :)

  24. 24
    September 17th, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I agree with the other girls from the South. I go to University of Georgia, and you rarely ever see anyone in attire like you’ve displayed…. it’s mainly red and black dresses, a skirt and top combo (this year) or something of the liking. I think the most casual it should be is with a long jersey, black leggings, and brown riding boots.

  25. 25
    September 17th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Rice Fight Never Die!

  26. 26
    September 17th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Thanks all you guys for the comments! Being from Houston it’s easy for me to forget that most other cities actually have fall, and that it starts getting cool in early September. I think I might do another game day fashion post in a few weeks that incorporates some dressier and cold-weather appropriate options.

  27. 27
    September 17th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    And to my fellow owls: I’m in Baker!

  28. 28
    September 17th, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I actually love both outfits. Alas, I’m doing study abroad right now so I can’t attend football games, but I like that the first outfit’s something you can wear outside of the game without looking like you’re headed to one.

    Oh, and BSWB

  29. 29
    September 17th, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I really like this post! I go to school in Michigan and attend tons of football games (to support the marching band), and it’s getting *cold*! A fall weather post would be much appreciated! :)

  30. 30
    September 17th, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I was excited to read something on here from a fellow Owl!! I really liked that owl necklace.

    Go Owls!!!

  31. 31
    September 17th, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    I go to the University of Florida (GO GATORS!) and I disagree with the other people who say everyone in the SEC wears dresses. It was like 95 degrees here today. Pretty much only the sorority girls wear dresses to the games here! It’s mostly jean shorts, orange or blue sandals, and either a solid colored orange or blue shirt, a jersey, or a school t-shirt. It’s pretty much like if you’re a real football fan and aren’t just there for the social aspect, you’re not wearing a dress because you don’t leave after the 2nd quarter like the sorority girls do. So I think your outfit ideas are pretty good! Now, some people do choose to dress a little nicer even if they aren’t in sororities but most people wait until it gets below 90 to start trying to dress super cute. It’s just too much to try to keep an outfit and your hair looking super cute in this heat! In November? Maybe.

  32. 32
    September 18th, 2011 at 10:39 am

    i go to Auburn University WAR EAGLE!!! and i disagree with you have to get all dressed up for a game but i love football so id rather look cute and be comfortable. i just couldnt stand to be in a dress at a game unless i was going to leave at half time and chances of that are very slim. i think you did a very good job with showing school spirit and thats something i would wear to a game keep up the hard work your doing a great job.

  33. 33
    September 18th, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Rice Fight Never Die!
    Didn’t realize there were other Rice kids that followed/wrote for this! Hurray!

  34. 34
    September 19th, 2011 at 8:44 am

    I go to a tiny private school and people don’t even wear school colors to the games! But I’m from Knoxville, and it’s SO hard to find UT orange! I gave up and made my skirt for the last game. It was super easy and comfortable though.

  35. 35
    September 19th, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I go to UT and there are some people who show up in t-shirts and shorts but for the most part girls wear burnt orange or white sundresses, or some cute top/skirt combination and cowboy boots. Our first game it was 105 degrees and I saw hundreds of girls (including myself) wearing dresses and boots. Tailgates and the game are the place to be seen and you don’t want to be caught in pictures looking less than your best, and for the record, I’m not a sorority girl so it’s NOT just them that dress up.

  36. 36
    September 27th, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Wow I go to University of Cincinnati, in Ohio. We are all about getting into the football games here. I’m talking school tops, bottoms if you have em, face paint(even the girls),and you cheer till your voice is completely gone. Its crazy to think thats not how everyone does it. I like the second post and I love my crossbody bag for gamedays. You should think about doing some colder weather like everyone else said. Our Decembers up here arent to forgiving and will throw out snow on gamedays.

  37. 37
    January 3rd, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    This was a good post to read, although I’m a bit late on the football season attire. At UH, (Go COOGS! Sorry, Owls!) :) I’ve seen plenty of girls dressed in our red and white, but it’s harder to find cougar animal jewelry than owls :) In the last game I attended (which was against Rice, ironically) I wore jeans and my UH t-shit and a cardigan. Good thing too, because half-way through, it rained like crazy and the temperature dropped from 70s to 50s with the wind picking up!

  38. 38
    November 8th, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    I go to SMU and you have to dress nice, even to class. So for game day you’re expected to step it up a notch, sometimes even cowboy boots don’t cut it. Maybe a school colored pair of wedges with a nice dress or skirt. Most of the time no one makes it off the boulevard, but lately with the cooler weather people have been wearing sleeveless dresses with fur vests and some sort of wedges or boots.

  39. 39
    July 2nd, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    I was just browsing through to see what kind of clothes I should invest in since I plan on attending ALL home games at my university, but then I remembered that I’m in marching band so I won’t need anything until atleast basketball season…. the perks of being a band nerd, I guess, are that your game day wear is already picked out for you.

  40. 40
    August 2nd, 2013 at 4:30 pm

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  41. 41
    August 3rd, 2013 at 10:56 am

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  42. 42
    August 6th, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    So ready for the season to start!!!

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