Putting Our Best Foot Forward

October 17, 2011 by Katy Brown
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Student attire is a real game changer.

I admit that I’m still very much in control of my daughters’ attire.  While they go with me to shop for clothes, and while I do ask them if they like a certain dress or shirt, I have never given them the freedom to choose their own outfits for special events.  If I did, my youngest daughter would wear shorts to church in sub-zero weather,  and my oldest daughter would wear a sweatshirt to a summer wedding.  Appearance is important to me — blame it on my marketing and PR background — because first impressions matter.  Image (to people in my line of work) is everything.

So after a 10-year absence from WVU football games (having children will cause this), you can imagine my surprise to see how kids’ styles have changed.  After a few rousing rounds of “There Goes Your Daughter”  — a game that moms and dads play when a young girl is spotted wearing barely-there tops and bottoms — we were shown up by what seemed to be a parade of ladies and gents dressed to the nines.

Wool skirts and cashmere cardigans on an 80-degree day?  Are those platform heels walking up that hill?  Is that a wide-brimmed hate — Kate Middleton style — blocking my view?  Are those blue and gold argyle pants I see?  Is she really going to sit in the stands wearing a cocktail dress?

What’s going on here? Is it homecoming?

As a teenager, I had to hear the You’re-Not-Leaving-The-House-Looking-Like-That speech on a couple of occasions.  Go put on a sweater! Go change your skirt! Go back to your closet and find your common sense!   But today’s college student (and graduate) has a new attitude:  Prance.

“It’s about tradition,” a friend announced.  “The deeper the south, the higher the heels,” she said.

But it’s a football game! Come on! Where’s your logo shirt? Where are your jeans and tennis shoes?

Feeling slightly out of place in my casual duds, I went online to find the answer to my question.  Why do kids  dress up for college football games?

Because Saturday is a holy day.  You dress to impress when entering the big house.

School spirit has a new face.  A mixture of pride and pretention, dressing for a sporting event is not only southern, but British. Cheering in cashmere is the wave of the future.

Being a girl of very little flare, I don’t own a lot of blue and gold, or maroon and gold — the colors of my alma mater.  Dressing up for a day of college football is about showing one’s true colors.  Act like you own the place. Literally.

As one  blogger wrote:

“We dress up because in the South, dear, football is very important, and us Southern girls want to look our best at these events. Of course we’re going to look better than the girls in the North — bless your heart.”

And another:

“It’s a Greek thing, honey.  You wouldn’t understand.”

And one more:

“We dress and act nicely, even if we don’t mean it.  It’s about being hospitable. It’s the SEC.”

Oh, that’s it.  The SEC.  It’s an SEC thing…we wouldn’t understand.

I can understand wearing a coat for a football game in November, but coat AND tie for a game in September?  I noticed a few girls wearing cuff-bracelets hooked by a large, metal letter “H”.   My husband looked confused. “What’s that stand for….Holgorsen?” It stands for Hilfiger, you idiot.

Indeed, football has become a student society event.  So, if you can’t find an appropriate outfit in one of the local retail shops, you may want to check out a few online stores that offer the best threads for box seats:

* Pennington and Bailes has more styles for men than women, but if you’re in need of seersucker shorts, you’ll be in business.

* If you do wear shorts to a game, by all means, tuck in your shirt! That means you’ll also need a belt — and it better be a needlepoint design.  For these handmade goods, log on to Smathers & Branson.   And if you are a GRIT — a girl or guy raised in the south — then you’ll need a special tailgate tie from Southern Proper.

*Ladies, the look is one of professionalism and elegance.  Monogrammed blouses and oxfords can now be found in college bookstores, as well as fine jewlery in the shape of your school’s logo.  However, if quality is what you’re after, look for apparel on the JCrew LookBook website.  A gold day coat can be found for around $325. And yes, I saw one.

When I was a little girl, my mother insisted I “dress” to go shopping with her at The Diamond.  Going downtown meant going “uptown”, which translated into wearing our Sunday best. There was lots of shine on my shoes and lots of spray in her hair!  Going out among ’em was an experience; a day of indulgence.  We had respect for ourselves, for others and for the establishment.

The younger set’s ”just rolled out of the rack” look appears to be coming to an end, at least on weekends.  At first, I shook my head in disbelief. But now, I’m shaking my head in approval.  It’s nice not to have to stare at pink bra straps and denim Daisy Dukes. It’s also a relief to see that boys have stopped wearing their pants three sizes too large.  However impractical semi-formal attire may seem on college football Saturday, it is encouraging that kids in particular, are starting to show some class.

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2 Responses to “Putting Our Best Foot Forward”

  1. SportsWidowNo Gravatar says:

    I still wear very casual clothes to games. Maybe that means I’m OLD! But I do like the idea of dressing up instead of ratty old clothes. And getting rid of offensive t-shirts. I never liked them when I was in college.

  2. CaraNo Gravatar says:

    I am a t-shirt and jeans with tennis shoes girl, but my first game in the South (UAB) introduced a whole new level of gameday dress.

    The fraternity boys were in jackets, ties and dress pants (though shirts were untucked by the end of the game.) and the sorority sisters were in pearls, with little gloves and heels. They all came into the stadium together. I was told that it’s just the way the games are in Alabama. You don’t want to be the first generation to break THAT tradition.

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