The First Lady of Texas Football Talks Gameday Fashion

Sarkisian at the Longhorns’ season opener, Sept. 4, 2021.

This past football season, all eyes were on the field per usual. But for some, it wasn’t in anticipation of a touchdown—instead, it was in search of Loreal Sarkisian and her expertly styled, eye-catching gameday outfits. 

A former college athlete and coach, professional stylist, and wife to head football coach Steve Sarkisian, Sarkisian has brought a different kind of intrigue to gamedays with her signature fringe, cowboy boots, leather jackets, Chanel handbags, and even the occasional matching suit set with her husband. (See: the one they donned during the 2021 Red River Showdown.) 

But make no mistake—Sarkisian isn’t looking for attention on the sidelines. It’s just who she is.  

“I am someone who’s always been into fashion, who’s always dressed for any occasion,” Sarkisian says. “Football games, a basketball game, going to the store, whatever.”   

Sarkisian first knew she wanted a career in fashion while growing up in Florida and watching her mother, a talented seamstress, artist, and designer, at work.  

“I grew up being able to watch her do those things and do them well,” Sarkisian says. “So, there was a level of interest at a young age because that was my foundation—we would go to the store and pick out patterns and I would watch her.”  

She always knew she wanted to do something creative. What that was, exactly, she wasn’t sure, but she was sure of this: “I knew I loved clothes and fashion and how they could make a person feel.”  

Sarkisian took that knowledge—and passion—with her into her time as an All-American hurdler at North Carolina A&T, and later as a coach at the University of Southern California. Sarkisian knew that if she felt good, “I’m gonna run good, I’m gonna coach good.” Even when she was sporting the required track uniform or coach’s polo shirt, Sarkisian would add some of her signature style wherever she could—a hair ribbon here, a touch of lipstick there, maybe a unique pair of sunglasses … Anything that made her feel a little more fabulous.   

By her late 20s, Sarkisian was working full-time as a professional stylist and started her own business in 2017. It was only natural that her personal style made its way to the UT football games when her husband became head coach in 2021. Initially, she and Steve Sarkisian were supposed to debut their custom matching burnt-orange and white suits at the season opener, but they weren’t ready yet. So instead, at the last minute, Sarkisian put together an outfit of a black cowboy hat, white blouse, a long lacy black skirt, cowboy boots, and an orange Chanel handbag. Not thinking much of it, she posted the outfit on her Instagram, @lorealsarkisian, like she usually did. But this time her post got a huge reaction. The likes and comments just kept coming.  

“I was not expecting that at all,” Sarkisian says. “But it made me excited, like, Okay, great. Glad y’all love it. This is who I am. I don’t know anything different. It was a very unexpected reaction, but one I welcomed, and I really appreciated it a lot, honestly.”  

Sarkisian continued putting together her high-fashion outfits for each game, incorporating bright colors and patterns, burnt-orange, and Western-inspired accessories such as a full-length, cow-print jacket. It wasn’t long before fans were calling her the new “first lady of Texas football,” a title Sarkisian feels honored to have been given.  

Sarkisian’s gameday outfit on Nov. 6, 2021.

“I try to be very classy and professional, warm and welcoming, helpful … all the things that would encourage the name of a first lady,” Sarkisian says. “I hope that I can continue on such a legacy of a name.”  

Her husband is happy to see Sarkisian offer another reason to get excited about UT football games, no matter what the final score is.   

“With football, everybody looks forward to their own aspect of that day, and a UT football game is not just the 60 minutes of the game, or the three and a half hours we’re on the field,” Steve Sarkisian says. “It’s a daylong event for a lot of people. She has captured an audience to get them excited about UT football, some of who may not be excited about the way we play or the opponent, but everybody gets excited about their own things to get them prepared to enjoy the ball game. If she can do that for people, if she can be inspiring to people on gameday, I think it’s fantastic.”  

At the end of the day, Sarkisian is just following the style mantra her mom instilled in her growing up. 

“When you look good, you feel good,” Sarkisian says. “My mom said it all the time. Getting dressed up was how we grew up.”  

Credits: Loreal Sarkisian


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