This Stylist Is Turning Football Games Into Her Personal Catwalk & We're Here For It

Sideline ‘fits for the ages.

Loreal Sarkisian
Stylist Loreal Sarkisian's Football Style

Crafting a game day look is not unlike preparing for an enormous theme party: you’ve got your team colors, uniforms, and mascots as solid jumping off points to build an ensemble around, and will most likely be surrounded by an arena full of people wearing some variation of the same things. But for Loreal Sarkisian, a professional stylist and the first lady of Texas football (her husband is University of Texas at Austin head football coach, Steve Sarkisian), the stadium is where she shows up and shows out. For those who are unfamiliar with her legendary sideline looks, a cursory glance over her Instagram proves that, despite being at a sporting event on any given Saturday, she truly does not play. It’s not unusual for her to hit the stands in a fashion week-worthy outfit, from a perfectly tailored leather suit to a prairie-chic blouse tucked into a sheer maxi skirt.

It’s only been in the past few years that Sarkisian has parlayed her sartorial know-how into a full-time career. After having worked some internships and taken assistant jobs in the fashion world at different times in her life, she decided it was time to strike out on her own, launching her styling business Loreal Luciana in 2017. “I've done fashion styling and celebrity styling,” she says. “But what I love most is personal styling.”

Growing up in Tallahassee, fashion has been a part of her life from the beginning. “Fashion is my foundation,” she says. “My mother is a creative from sewing to cooking to doing hair. Everything she did was with detail, so that's what we grew up around.” Sarkisian would accompany her mom to fabric stores, picking out patterns and looking through swatches from a very young age. Her mother’s focus on timelessness had a big influence on Sarkisian’s concept of what it means to put together a great look. “She was taught to wear the things that look good on you, not necessarily what was in style, and that stuck with me.”

Fashion has always been the focus of Sarkisian’s creative energy, only rivaled by her lifelong passion for athletics. In college at North Carolina A&T, she was a standout in track and went on to become a coach at University of Southern California. “Track was life forever, my entire life,” she says. “I still have one foot in the door, doing some consulting from time to time. I love football just as much as I've loved track. I don't have to know anybody playing, I just like the game. I can watch football all day Sunday and not know anybody on the field — but these days, I do.”

And what better way to revel in both her interests than showing off her sartorial skills and her school spirit? Sarkisian’s fits have dazzled the home team crowd at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium since her husband was hired as the Longhorns’ coach last year, but those in the arena haven’t been the only ones charmed by her style: She’s a fan favorite on social media as well, having built a following of over 50,000 on Instagram who hang on her every post for game day fashion inspiration.

Seeing how structured and refined Sarkisian’s game day outfits are, one might think they’d have to be planned weeks in advance around the Longhorns’ predetermined schedule. But she doesn’t like to get her plan sorted too far in advance.

“I have really surrendered to the creative in me,” she says of her styling strategy. “As much as I want to say on Thursday, ‘this is what I'm going to wear,’ the creative in me, that unorganized space, says, ‘No: Do it a few minutes before. That's how you’re feeling today; Might not feel like that come Saturday.’”

She describes her process as one of organized chaos, since most every week it’s a game-time decision. “I sit in my closet and think, how am I feeling?” Sarkisian says. “I’m just moving around, maybe listening to some music. And then I figure it out and then, oh God, don't let it need some alterations!”

Sarkisian puts together plenty of winning ensembles by shopping her own closet, but sometimes a bespoke garment is the only way to tie the look together. Achieving her vision can make for a mad dash when it’s only a matter of hours before the big game. Such was the case with the jersey she had to send out for before the Alabama game in September, paired perfectly with an Alaïa skirt. “Even if it is something that I have [custom] made, it's still a last minute pull of the trigger to be like, ‘OK, I think this is what I want. Can you get it done in 24 hours?’ I'm so serious. It's the craziest thing.”

The stylist names Tom Ford, Chanel, and Balmain as favorite brands but ultimately doesn’t like to be too fussy about labels, focusing more on the piece and its place within an ensemble. As a Longhorns supporter, Sarkisian often opts for their signature burnt orange but doesn’t feel the need to let the team colors be the dominant styling choice around which an entire outfit is built. Some days she’ll add a pop of orange, but other times, her looks are less obvious, nodding to the Texas ethos rather than shouting it outright. For Sarkisian, sports event style can be more of a feeling, achievable even in a monochromatic look absent of the team’s trademark hues. “You can have on all white and then have on a cowgirl hat and some cowboy boots and you're ready to go.”

Incorporating certain prints and fabrics that speak to the DNA of a team is a more subtle way to express fandom. Certain elements that work especially well for Sarkisian as a Texas football fan also make sense more broadly with the classic Americana vibe the sport is steeped in: “Definitely include your denims, include your cow hide, include your cowboy boots and hat, your belt buckles, the brass, the gold,” she offers.

A large stretch of football season is in the fall, which means transitional weather. Sarkisian recommends those considering their looks as the weather shifts from week to week to focus on wardrobe staples because, at the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with the autumnal classics: boots, a blazer or bomber, and scarves.

One thing that’s clear from her approach is that Sarkisian is dressing for herself, with little regard for any preconceived societal notions of what makes a sporting event outfit. But that doesn’t mean her husband isn’t a fan.

“Oh my god, he loves it,” she says. “He's super supportive of who I am and what I do and how I represent myself — clearly, or we wouldn't be married! But he really, really does. He enjoys it. Sometimes he watches me try to figure it out because he thinks that's a whole experience in itself. He has some style that people don't really give him a lot of credit for. They think I do everything. I just help aid in his style, I'll say.”

Sarkisian’s professional opinion is that there’s no standard one-size-fits-all method to composing the perfect game-day look, since everyone’s authentic style factors in differently. Athletics and fashion are most exciting when the players take risks with confidence — even the wildest of fashion choices can be pulled off when you can tell the wearer truly believes in it. “The beauty of sporting events — especially, I will say, football — is you really can show up as festive as you want,” she says. “You have the people that go out to the games with no shirt on and they're painted. All they know is they really are die hard for their team. Who am I to tell somebody that something doesn't look good on them if they feel amazing?”