Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

How to Look Stylish at a Tailgate: 5 Tips & Tricks

We know how easy it is to wait an hour before tailgate to choose an outfit – namely, throwing on jeans and digging up a tee from the bottom of your hamper or borrowing one from a friend. But we’ve found that it’s also just as easy to look stylish. Here are a few ideas for chic tailgate outfits, so you can spend less time getting ready and more time at the lot (or um, game!)

1.  DIY Tops

It’s junior year and you’re still sporting the same jersey you’ve worn to every game since freshman year? Instead of strolling through racks of overpriced tees at the bookstore, head for the sales—and get ready to chop. There are myriad ways to DIY a tee shirt and no, it’s not a huge time-sucker. Alexandra Churchill, HC Love Editor, University of New Hampshire ’12 and her friends make front knot crop tops. “Basically, we cut up old school giveaway shirts and just made them look a little more chic,” she says. “It’s a cute way to rock your school spirit!” Another DIY tee is even simpler. “We cut the bottom [of tee-shirts] into strips so there’s a fringe-like effect, make it off the shoulder, etc. “ says Quinn Keaney, University of Pittsburgh, 2013.

Here are a few DIY ideas and instructions, that we promise will take you less than an hour:

What you’ll need
A used school tee shirt
A crop top you already wear (optional)
Fabric marker

Crop Top

  1. Place a crop top you already wear – so it has a crop length you feel comfortable with – on top of the tee shirt. Lay everything on a flat surface.
  2. Using the fabric marker, gently mark the length where you’d like it cropped based on your other crop top.
  3. Make sure the line is even and more importantly, leave a little extra length just in case you end up cutting too much.
  4. Cut your crop top and try it on. Adjust where you cut to your preferred length. 

For a tank crop top:

  1. Follow instructions to make a crop top.
  2. Cut the neck of the shirt into a scoop neck by cutting closely along the collar.
  3. Cut off the sleeves. 

Off-the-Shoulder Top

  1. Make slits on both sides of the top collar of your tee shirt.
  2. Carefully cut around the outside of the collar, making sure you’re not cutting too far from the collar. The larger the area around the collar becomes, the more the shirt will slip off your shoulder – and remember that you can always cut more to adjust.
  3. If you want, cut along the seams of the sleeves or the bottom of the tee for a cuter fit.

Fringe Top

  1. This requires the same items as before, but grab a ruler so you can be precise when cutting.
  2. Decide how long you want the strips of fringe to be and make a light mark where you want them to begin on the shirt (remember: the cut is still like a crop top, so the fringe will expose some of your midriff).
  3. Cut the strips diagonally toward your mark, choosing whatever width you’d like for each individual strip. You can make them wide or skinnier for a ribbon-like effect. 

2.  Ditch the Denim

It’s the norm to throw on a pair of skinnies and head to the game. But don’t think it’s your only option. Why not apply the same creativity you’d put into an outfit for a party into your tailgate getup? Here are a few ideas: if it’s still hot out, layer an off-the-shoulder DIY top or tank over a jersey dress or skirt. A tee shirt-dress combo never fails, but if you’re more comfortable in pants, try leggings worn under longer tees and tanks. Kenyatta Giddings, University of Texas at Austin ‘13, suggests minis with cowboy (or any type of) boots and cable knit cardigans for cold weather games.

Polyvore set:
Multi Lurex Cardigan, Dorothy Perkins, $55
Victoria’s Secret Racerback Tank, Victoria’s Secret PINK, $30
Seamless Jacquard Leggings, Wet Seal, $15
Black Pu Wrap Over Lace Boots, DesireClothing.com, $24
Royal Blue Infinity Scarf, Windstore.com, $13
Hair Ribbon, The Tie Bar, $18
3.  Try School Spirit Gear (Made Especially For This Fall)

Our favorite brands–and maybe some you’ve never heard of–are making it easier than ever to look stylish on game day. Victoria’s Secret PINK Collegiate Collection offers their signature comfy wear for over 50 universities. And even if you don’t see your college, don’t fret: their line is ever expanding, so you may not have to wait long. TOMS Shoes are also offering a limited-edition ‘Campus Classics’ line, including schools like University of Michigan and UNC. And if the cute styles aren’t enough of a reason to buy them, remember that for every pair you purchase, another pair is donated to a person in need.

4.  Be Wise With Footwear

Save the heels for later. You probably won’t be comfortable and they’re going to sink into the ground, and, not to mention, do you really want to wear them? Quinn and her friends at University of Pittsburgh wear their summer sandals like these from Forever 21 or colorful Keds. When in doubt, opt for shoes you’d wear to a (long!) day of classes. Try sandals and sneakers for warm weather games, and low heeled boots and moccasins for late fall.

Polyvore set:
AX Paris Riding Boots, AX Paris, $63
Dune Lydia Suede Snaffle, JohnLewis.com, $87
Madden Girl Zorrba Boot, DSW.com, $60
Madewell Keds, Madewell.com, $62
Double H Sonora Ladies Boot, Cavenders.com, $120
TOMS Shoes Campus Classics, Toms.com, $48

5.  Game Day Nail Art

Thanks to Pinterest, blogs, and online tutorials, there’s pretty much no excuse to not know how to do nail art or make your own jewelry or bake football-shaped treats (you know, if you have the time). And luckily, the web can give you inspiration on how to spice up your game day look with all things crafty. Our favorite idea? School-spirited nail art. You could get together with friends and paint football-design nails. Or better yet, why not create your own nail art inspired look based on your school colors and mascot? Paint your nails a solid color and then carefully paint a letter from your university’s acronyms on each nail. Or come up with a simple design of your mascot and delicately paint it on your nails.

One last idea: plan a get-together with your girlfriends to ‘DIY’ the night before the game. You can make tees, accessories, or any sweets and treats. So no more holey excuses, collegiettes – tailgate time only comes once a year and this year you’re putting in an extra kick of effort.

What are your best tips for looking chic at a tailgate? Leave a comment!

Image Source:

Tricia is a senior (2012) at Central Michigan University, studying English Literature and French. She was the Campus Life editor at her school's feature publication, Grand Central Magazine, interned at BlackBook Magazine, and spent a semester in France, followed by some time in India. She's all about women's interests and issues. Follow Tricia on Twitter @TriciaTaormina.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️