Dressing up is an Alabama game day tradition


CW / David Gray

Fans tailgate on the Quad before the Ole Miss game on Oct. 2, 2021.

Haley Taylor, Contributing Writer

Every college and university has its own traditions and unspoken rules. At The University of Alabama, football games are a fashion show. On SEC campuses, fans trade in their jerseys and T-shirts for dresses, blazers, button-ups and heels. 

For Vincent DeSarno, a UA senior majoring in mechanical engineering, houndstooth overalls are his go-to game day attire. 

“I was looking for something to wear to the game days because I was kind of sick of just wearing shorts and polos,” DeSarno said. “So, I was like, I think some houndstooth overalls would be funny.” 

He said he gets a lot of comments on his outfits and has even seen photos of himself on strangers’ Snapchats and Instagrams.

“I think it is just fun because it gives people something to look at and get in the spirit of Alabama football,” DeSarno said. 

For those trying to find their signature look, DeSarno said his only advice is to make sure it’s something you won’t mind wearing once a week for four years. 

DeSarno, along with students and alumni like Nick Ebel have cemented themselves in UA game day history. Ebel, widely known as the Shaker Skirt Guy, attracted national media attention for his skirt made out of crimson and white shakers. 

Some fans spice up their game day outfits with custom pieces. Swag, a business in downtown Tuscaloosa that specializes in unique concepts and artwork, offers a print bar where people can create unique t-shirts, embroidered sweatshirts and buttons. Custom game day buttons are a popular addition for Alabama fans. 

Fashion is fluid, constantly flowing into the next trend. Despite that, there are certain fashion trends that will never go out of style on this campus. 

You see a little bit of everything at games,” said Babs Davis, a UA clothing and apparel instructor. “Fashion as a whole is so much more accepting of different things. It is reflective of society.” 

Trends for game days may come and go, but the tradition stays. Staple pieces are recycled year after year:

  • Houndstooth everything: It would not be a Crimson Tide football game without the iconic pattern. The black and white pattern was cemented in UA history with Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s houndstooth fedora. Now it can be seen on pants, tops and accessories. 
  • White vinyl boots: Boots never seem to go out of style at games, no matter the temperature. White boots are a staple on campus during football season.
  • Cowboy boots: David mentioned this standout. The boots trend goes in cycles but always comes back around.

Game day fashion reflects how seriously the South takes football, especially college football. In a state like Alabama, which doesn’t have an NFL team, college football reigns supreme. 

The idea of dressing up just tailgating or a football game could turn people off to the idea of going to a school like The University of Alabama, but for most, this tradition is attractive. 

Davis attended the University from 2003 to 2005 for her masters degree in fashion retailing. She has watched styles come and go at Alabama game days. 

“Trends for game days may have changed, but we dressed up for games,” Davis said. “The dresses are a bit shorter these days.” 

For those who aren’t sports fans, the dressing up and pregame festivities are the most exciting part of Saturdays in Tuscaloosa. 

“I liked that people went all out for our games,” said Nia Cosby, a UA senior majoring in engineering. “I figured it would be only some people, but everyone participates.” 

It can seem silly to wear suits or heels to stand in bleachers with 100,000 fans, but it’s all for a common goal: watching the Crimson Tide.

“I am from Washington, so joining was a bit of a culture shock,” said Chloe Mannard, a UA senior majoring in marketing. “Seeing how people got dressed up for games was weird. It can be a bit of hassle since it is so hot outside.”

On some campuses, dressing up for game days is unusual. 

“College sports aren’t a big deal here, so it is interesting seeing how people in the South like to go to the extreme,” said Sydney Thomas, a Howard University junior majoring in fashion design. “It’s just a regional thing.” 

Game day fashion on campus drives revenue for boutiques and online fashion brands. There is a built-in clientele in a college town like Tuscaloosa, especially the businesses that specialize in the style seen at games. 

Courtesy of @dutchiesdiamonds

Kylin Alycé, a UA sophomore majoring in business management and founder of Dutchie’s Diamonds LLC, created her business based on her knowledge of game day fashion traditions. 

“The idea came from me just trying to incorporate my business with my school,” Alycé said. “I noticed that we don’t dress like a normal school for game days.” 

Dutchie’s Diamonds, on top of the clothes already being sold, added a game day collection in time for the Iron Bowl. 

Though there are dozens of boutiques in Tuscaloosa to choose from while searching for game day clothing, some students prefer to shop online for lower prices and more inclusive sizes. Regardless of where students buy their outfits, game day fashions shine through.