Mark, Davis, Phillip... thank you… these are great questions, and your timing is peeeerrrrfect. The Georgia-Florida game, once officially known as "The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" is slated for this Saturday afternoon, is one of the most renowned tailgates in the cosmos, involves that particular team from Athens, and takes place in… Florida. So yeah, now’s the time.
First off, I love football. I did punt pass & kick when I was a kid, played in high school, and even to this day I will still sneak out some Friday nights to catch a local high school game. And going to University of Mississippi, I got spoiled by the pageantry of it all, from the band and drumline to the cheerleaders to the elaborate tailgating at the Grove… not sure it gets much better. So dressing for the game has always been part of the mix for me, and honestly part of the fun. We took dressing seriously.
Back when I was in school, game day attire was still coat-and-tie. Part of this was to be respectful, put on your best for the game, and look good for parents who might be in town. And part of this was to give you cover to imbibe a bit more than usual. (“At Ole Miss we might lose the game, but we never lose the party.”) Point being, you might be a little wobbly, but if you present yourself well, it sort of balances that (and you) out a bit.
A lot has changed since then, and there are some schools where fraternity pledges still dress up, but for the most part if you look around stadiums in the South on a Saturday - it's mostly logo'd polos, some kind of khaki pants or shorts, and casual shoes. A far cry from Ivy or Oxford style. With that, here's a modern game day formula.
I'd keep it super simple: 5-pockets (jeans, cords, moleskin) + boots (Chelseas, desert boots, or Blundstones; good in case of spillage) + sport shirt (a nice polo alternative), with few layering options on the bench. (You are outside, after all.) And one important note: I would really lean into incorporating school colors, as opposed to the school logo, where possible. Let’s take this weekend’s marquee matchup in Jacksonville as an example: it's a neutral site and they literally split the fanbases down the middle of the stadium – Dawgs on one side, Gators on the other. So... not a time to mail in your outfit or get confused for the opponent.
If you're Georgia fan, you've got red, black and white to work with... assuming you're not wearing silver britches. So you could do a few combinations. With dark or natural-colored jeans, you could do red like this one or this one. Or a simple white shirt with a red bandana in your back pocket or inside your shirt collar. Not sure how Dawgs feel about ascots, but you could try. If the weather is cool, you could throw on a black or grey cashmere sweater over any of those. And for those who want to take it up a notch - a red nylon vest or red corduroy blazer! Just pair them with a solid shirt underneath.
If you are pulling for Florida on the opposite side of TIAA Bank Stadium (RIP Gator Bowl), your primary colors are orange, blue and white, with the Gator in secondary shade of green. Again, you could lean into dark or neutral 5-pockets, but consider letting the pants sing lead. I love love love a pair of orange pants for this. If that's a bit much, the orange can be in your shirt instead, like in this one. Great for the game but also just for fall in general. Blue is the other option, and Florida blue is a biiiiit on the bright side, but a light chambray or a blue stripe will pretty much get you there. If it’s cool out, a white poplin shirt with a blue cashmere sweater would look killer. And if you, too, aren’t afraid to take it up a notch, you could try an orange knit tie, or maybe a little pop of Gator green with a bandana.
I know these questions were targeted for the Southeast, and Georgia-Florida is a spirited rivalry, but the formula could literally work at any other tailgate across the country. If you're going to a UCLA game in sunny California - a light blue awning stripe shirt and dark jeans would be cool, or if you're in chilly South Bend perhaps go big with some emerald green corduroy pants and a navy coat. It looks like we’ve even got some maize pants for the Wolverines’ maize and blue. Just lean into the colors, go easy on the logos, and have fun.
As the great Brian Wilson once wrote:
"Be true to your school now,
like you would to your girl or guy.
Be true to your school now
and let your colors fly.
Be true to your school."