Tailgating in fashion

(Serena Gelb/YH Staff)

With the 129th game of the legendary Harvard-Yale rivalry fast approaching, Yale students are getting ready to make their game day experiences as memorable as possible. Especially considering that Yale will be the visiting team this year, students are looking to be loud and proud, proclaiming their enthusiasm as effectively as they can. What better way to do this than to dress to impress at the tailgate? Or rather, dress to astound, amuse, and—often—confuse. For many Yalies, anything goes when it comes to outfits for football games and tailgates, with student fashion often having less to do with showcasing Yale pride than with wearing the most outrageous clothing possible. At the Yale-Princeton tailgate this past weekend, spirited students sported everything from Hawaiian shirts to faux fur coats. One bold freshman even dressed as a swamp monster by covering his entire body in artificial seaweed.

However, tailgating outfits are so diverse that it can be hard to gauge what qualifies as a good outfit. So what exactly constitutes the “ideal” tailgating outfit? “The goal is to wear anything that looks absurd and ridiculous—just have fun with it,” James Tjarksen, PC ’15, member of the men’s lacrosse team, said. And have fun with it he did: at the Yale-Princeton tailgate, Tjarksen arrived garbed in a Canadian Fishing bucket hat, Green Bay Packers pajama bottoms and a Twinkies brand shirt fresh off the Goodwill racks. “You just know when you find the right outfit,” Tjarksen said.

Students plan to be just as inventive, if not more so, at the Harvard-Yale tailgate. Although their ideas aren’t set in stone, many students already have a general idea of their game day attire. Peter Ambiel, PC ’15, member of the men’s soccer team as well as the Sigma Nu fraternity, plans to raid thrift stores for this Saturday’s game. “I will definitely be going to Salvation Army to look for clothes with pizzazz,” Ambiel said. “It’s a little too cold for jorts, so I might wear overalls with a loud Hawaiian shirt and a track jacket.”

Ambiel is not the only one planning to swing over to the thrift shop. For athlete Simon Keenan, MC ’15, the thrift store is a must. “I’ll definitely wear something from a thrift shop, but something with school spirit too,” Keenan said. “Maybe a colorful shirt or a fluorescent hat.” But if he could wear the ideal tailgating outfit, his choice is clear: “A ghillie suit for sure.” A ghillie suit is a type of camouflage that hunters wear when hoping to blend in with the natural habitat of their prey. For Keenan, however, blending in is the last thing on his mind; when it comes to outfits, he said, “Anything that will make you stand out works fine.”

According to the students interviewed, it tends to be the male students, more than female ones, wearing the outrageous outfits. “It’s funny to see guys making a bigger effort with their clothes than girls, for once,” frequent tailgate attendee Juliann Jeffrey, CC ’14, says. For Jeffrey, dressing for a tailgate is as simple as jeans and a sweatshirt. “I would rather be comfortable than wear something ridiculous,” she said. Along the same lines, Kristen Forster, SY ’13, member of the women’s soccer team, opts for something with spirit and insulation. “I try to be supportive and wear a comfy Yale sweater or top with a pair of jeans,” Forster explained. “It was nice that all of the Princeton fans were dressed in orange [this past weekend] because you could see their support. I try to do the same thing.”

As a senior, Forster has seen her fair share of tailgating. The most outrageous outfit she has seen to date? “I saw a guy dressed as an ice cream cone once,” she said. “That was pretty weird.”

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