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Game day outfits help students embrace UNC's rich sports culture

Texture courtesy of Adobe Stock

Leading up to the Duke-UNC game, rising junior Sophia Lopez wandered the aisles of Walmart when fate found her by chance. 

A bright flash of silver caught Lopez’s eye. Intrigued by the color, she took a step closer and immersed herself in the clothing section. With game day approaching, Lopez found the perfect “brightest, shiniest” knee-length basketball shorts to wear for the highly-anticipated rivalry match.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I have to wear these,’” Lopez said. “I can’t not wear these. That would be a crime against the University.”

Paired with a zebra-printed scarf, white fluffy ear muffs, a shirt from Depop and black cowboy boots, Lopez achieved her greatest game day outfit during her two years as a Tar Heel. 

“It was cutting edge,” Lopez said

When a student steps on UNC’s campus during the football and basketball seasons, a mini-fashion show ensues. While Kenan Memorial Stadium appears to be a myriad of Carolina Blue from afar, the student section is dotted with individuals who spent time hand-selecting shirts, pants and various other accessories to sport a unique game day outfit. During those big-time sports moments, North Carolina fans work to look good while also showing their undeniable Tar Heel pride. 

students celebrate UNC's victory by rushing Franklin Street on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024.

During family weekend at the Phi Mu sorority house in October, rising junior Mae Cole could not stop receiving compliments. 

Sticking to her “cute but functional” game day style, Cole sported a simple black mini skirt and an open-back white top.

But look to the ground and that’s where the compliments emerged. Cole paired the white-and-black getup with Carolina Blue GoGo boots to make the outfit perfect. 

“You have to be multifunctional,” Cole said. “You can’t just be single-faceted for a game day fit.”

Throughout football and basketball seasons, Cole believes that there are two distinctions between the biggest sports on campus. In the fall, students typically wear cuter, slightly less functional clothing to appeal to the social atmosphere — tailgates, parties, etc. — of football games. 

But during the basketball season, it’s all about showing up in a jersey and finding a way to stay warm. Since there aren’t as many activities before a basketball game, Cole sports multiple layers wearing either a simple UNC sweatshirt or a Michael Jordan jersey. Lopez shares this same sentiment. 

“I think football games people do more like they’re ready for a garden party as well,” Lopez said

According to Lopez, students should be more dressy for football and more sporty for basketball. 

UNC fans cheer before the men’s basketball game against Duke at the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. UNC beat Duke 93-84.

But outside of these unspoken rules, the sports scene offers the UNC community the chance to show up and show out. 

“Of course, the main goal is to rep our school so that is the biggest priority,” rising junior Savannah Kardouni said

For the Duke-UNC game, Kardouni sported blue-and-white plaid overalls with the North Carolina logo on the front, a “Beat Duke” pin and heart-shaped blue sunglasses. 

But the most important item? Comfortable white Converse for rushing Franklin Street.

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Behind the over-the-top outfits, every Tar Heel boasts immense pride for UNC’s top-notch athletic programs. 

So, Kardouni considered what shoes — that obviously complimented the fit — would get her to Franklin Street the fastest. And as she rushed to get there after UNC beat the Blue Devils, 93-84, at the Dean E. Smith Center in February, she might have caught a glimpse of bright silver shorts, Carolina Blue GoGo boots and fluffy ear muffs, but all those statement pieces held the same meaning in that moment. 

Each student dons a special game day fit to support the nicknamed University of National Champions. 


@dthsports |