Published on October 5, 2021, at 6:02 p.m.
by Megan Murphy.
You may have seen the videos on TikTok showcasing elaborate outfits on #BamaRushTok, but what comes after sorority recruitment? The answer: football — a Southern girl’s next major fashion event.
At The University of Alabama, football is the chosen faith, Nick Saban is the pope, and attending a football game is like going to church. In their Sunday best on a Saturday, young men sport suits or polos, and women wear skirts, dresses and heels — snapping photos with other members of the congregation as they join the procession to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Are women dressing up to honor Southern tailgate tradition, or is it a public relations tactic to protect and represent the image of Southern universities and the women who attend them?
For example, The University of Alabama is one of the nation’s fastest-growing public universities. Scholarships offered by the university have attracted students from all over — so much to the point that over half the student body is made of out-of-state students. Most of these students come from different regions of the country where dressing up for game day is unheard of. Yet, so many Northern students who attend Southern universities honor this century-old tradition.
Southern women have become experts at influencing Northerners to adopt fashion trends. Game day is a Southern fashion PR event itself. Women plan these outfits strategically — sometimes days in advance — and once the perfect outfit is found, the game day fashion PR campaign commences.
The budget for the campaign is influenced by popular Southern boutique prices, which are typically expensive for most on a college budget. Red Dress Boutique, based in Athens, Georgia, features a game day ready collection with dresses averaging prices above $70.
The question remains whether Northern women purchasing boutique game day attire are truly embracing Southern culture or simply striving to keep up with the Joneses.
A University of Georgia study suggested a contributing factor could be the hard-pressed idea of emulating the Southern woman, which is compounded by local boutiques that prompt women to dress in special game day selections. Several fashion blogs also seek to inspire women to find the perfect game day outfits. These fashion trends have become an essential image of culture at Southern universities.
Before attending The University of Alabama, I found myself researching Southern style guides and scrolling through Instagram to discover what the acceptable norms were for game day outfits. Growing up in the Chicago area, I never witnessed such elaborate attire at sporting events. In fact, all fans needed were a casual T-shirt or jersey. Like other Northerners, I did not view college football as a sacred event. Saturday was just another day of the week. Today, while shopping, I find myself gravitating toward anything elegant in crimson and white. Women attending Northern schools do not understand the thrill of finding the perfect game day dress — until they’ve had a Southern college game day experience.
If college football is the religion of the South, Southern boutiques and fashion blogs have successfully converted Northerners to embrace extravagant game day apparel. More importantly, these new Northern converts honor and uphold the image of a century-old tradition. In doing so, Southern college football has successfully fostered a relationship between diverse game day attendees.