Fitted to win: Frat Beach fashion through the decades | Arts & Culture

Fashion is never more important than on a college gameday. Fans are identified and united

Fashion is never more important than on a college gameday. Fans are identified and united by the colors they wear and the teams they cheer for — animosity or friendship is decided by a glance at an outfit.

Since 1915, the University of Florida and the University of Georgia have been rivals. This rivalry gave way to an even rowdier celebration on St. Simons Island on the coast of Georgia — a gathering at what students now call Frat Beach.

While the celebration on Frat Beach has maintained its identity as a weekend of drunken camaraderie and school spirit, the students partaking in the celebration look much different now than they did in the 1950s, when the rivalry found its way to St. Simons.


The ’50s saw the birth of the Frat Beach tradition. Fashions drifted away from reserved wartime styles and toward the quirky looks that would define the ’60s. Shorts were shorter, waistlines higher and college men ditched their suit jackets for more boyish looks.

An October 1957 issue of The Red & Black featured an opinion piece by Max Shulman, who wrote, “The key word this year is casual. Be casual. Be slap-dash. Be rakish. Improvise. Invent your own ensembles — like ski pants with a peek-a-boo blouse.”


The ’60s were an explosion of color, quirk and experimentation. A February 1968 issue offered jumpsuits for men, a trend that likely found its way to Frat Beach. Women experimented with brave textures and bold patterns.


Women’s fashion in the ’70s was more experimental than ever. Trends swung from flowing “hippie” dresses to white boots and synthetic fabrics that defined disco fashion.

College men opted for colorful shirts and bright plaid jackets. Frat Beach was awash with color and short shorts — “knees are news again,” an April 1977 issue proclaimed.


Student fashion in the ’80s was defined by big hair, denim and oversized clothing for both men and women. The celebrations on Frat Beach were wilder than ever, with a November 1986 issue advising students to “wear clothes that haven’t been washed in weeks … no one cares how nice your clothes are, they just want a blood and guts football game.”


Student fashion in the ’90s was grungier than ever, with thousands of pairs of Chuck Taylors and denim shorts appearing on campus and Frat Beach alike. This decade was a “melting pot for fashion and culture,” according to a December 1999 Red & Black issue. “Thanks to Pearl Jam and Nirvana, it was all about the grunge look. Slap a size 40-inch pair of jeans on a 140-pound frame, making sure the boxers are in plain view, and you’ve got yourself a regular slacker stud.” The article even addressed the changing nature of fashion trends, demonstrating the ever-evolving nature of Frat Beach fashion.


The baggy jeans of the ’90s were replaced with their super skinny low-rise counterparts in the following decade. Tight layers and scarves were staple for men and women. Fashion for football games was of huge importance to students, with an August 2006 issue claiming that, “dressing up becomes the norm, and dressing fashionably — albeit uncomfortable — is nothing less than expected.”


Fashion for the rivalry game and celebrations in recent years has been ruled by neons and metallic sheens. In previous decades, attire at Frat Beach has been similar to what students wear in their day-to-day lives, but any number of outlandish and odd outfits can be found on St. Simons during current rivalry games. Students wear everything from school jerseys and cut-off shorts to bikinis and fanny packs.

Regardless of what students wear, the legacy of revelry and camaraderie among UGA students during the rivalry game has remained constant throughout the decades. Whether you wear a cloche cap and a modest dress or a bikini and a neon visor, the most important accessory on Frat Beach and for the rivalry game is a love for the Georgia Bulldogs.