Meet Loreal Sarkisian, the First Lady of Texas Football
The stylist, former track star and wife of Coach Steve Sarkisian is dedicated to helping others through fashion and philanthropy
It might be hard to believe, but Loreal Sarkisian did not like the color burnt orange. “It’s definitely grown on me!” says the wife of University of Texas at Austin’s head football coach Steve Sarkisian. “I’ve embraced it. I think it’s an awesome color because of the cool ways you can incorporate it. If you think of it as a neutral, then your options are endless if you are creative enough to venture out.”
Sarkisian loves talking fashion. The wardrobe stylist, Alexander McQueen loving, “First Lady of Texas Football” catapulted to recognition because of her game day outfits, starting with her very first Longhorn game in 2021, where she wore a crisp white prairie blouse tucked into a black, sheer maxi skirt paired with a black cowboy hat, boots and western belt. For the past two season and so far into the 2023 season, Sarkisian has been treating the Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium as her own personal catwalk, and her followers on Instagram are eating it up. But according to Sarkisian, she’s just dressing as her authentic self and how she feels that day.
“I get up and I just get dressed!” she says.
While she admits she might be wearing a little more makeup than usual on game days or at events, her mother taught her from a young age to always present her best self. It’s not the only lesson learned from her mom. As a former collegiate track star (she could run the 100 meter hurdles in under 13 seconds and even tried out for the Olympics in 2012) and former University of Southern California coach, she says the Longhorn players all call her “Mama Sark” because they know she and Steve care for them on and off the field, something her athletic parents instilled in her, her siblings and all of their athletic friends that would often come home with them.
“We’re here to use our gifts and talents to serve others,” she says. “It comes natural to me because of all that Mom and Dad did. That’s what I know. That’s who I am. I want to make sure they know that we are here for them past football.”
This notion is also something she takes with her in terms of her stylist business, where she uses her fashion sense to help clients build a wardrobe, style them for events or photo shoots or even help them pack for a vacation. But she claims she’s not here to tell people what to wear or deem what is “stylish” to anyone. She aims to help others reveal their own “authentic self” through clothes and create a sense of confidence in what she calls a “very intimate space.”
“You have to build a lot of trust with your clients,” Sarkisian explains. “You end up wearing different hats and become a lot of things depending on that person and what they have going on in their lives. But I embrace it — it’s another level of giving back, another talent I have that I get to use to help people.”
As for dressing Steve, she says that’s a “touchy subject” and that he has his own style but she’ll give him some options.
Sarkisian also gives back with many charitable causes near and dear to her heart, especially with The Kindness Campaign, The UGLI Foundation, Runway of Dreams, Dress for Success and her own 501(c)(3) nonprofit she is in the final stages of setting up with an event hopefully slated for the spring.
“I’m only here because of Christ and him loving and supporting me and giving me grace, so I want to make sure I’m extending the same grace, love, help and support to others as much as possible,” she says.
When she’s not jet-setting across the globe for fashion shows, participating with Longhorn athletics, working with her stylist clients, helping with charities or consulting with track athletes, you might find Sarkisian shopping around town at Valentine’s, ByGeorge, Reformation, Neiman Marcus, Hermès, Gucci or her new favorite Aritzia.
“Nothing is off limits when trying to find an outfit, especially for someone else,” she says. “I’ll go everywhere!”