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How to Dress for Sorority Recruitment in Winter

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Sorority sisters

When you think of sorority recruitment (or rush), you probably imagine long haired girls running about in Lilly Pulitzer sundresses and Jack Rogers sandals. While that may be the case at some schools like the University of Georgia, UCLA, and the University of Iowa, many schools such as Vanderbilt, the University of Virginia, and Northwestern have made the switch to deferred recruitment which occurs right after Winter Break.

The main argument made for holding off recruitment until the start of second semester is that it gives freshmen the chance to get settled on campus before making a life-long decision to join a sisterhood. While I think that there is a lot of merit in that, pushing sorority recruitment back to January means finding weather-appropriate alternatives to sundresses and the like: not always the easiest thing to do!

There are a few key fashion tips to keep in mind if you are going through recruitment this winter, and this advice holds true for any college girl wanting to look polished and put-together without blending in.

Accessorize well.

If you own a nice piece of jewelry, sorority recruitment is definitely the time to wear it. You’ll be surrounded by hundreds of girls who have an appreciation for the finer things in life. A David Yurman bracelet, a Rachel Leigh necklace, or Tiffany earrings can add some nice sparkle to your ensemble for any round of recruitment.

Rush Week Jewelry

Product Information: Necklace- Couture Candy, Earrings- Tiffany & Co, Bracelet- Saks Fifth Avenue.

One, or maybe two, of these pieces is definitely a nice touch; however, make sure not to overdo it. The last thing you want is to look like you passed around a collection plate over Christmas to your mom, aunts, grandma, cousins, etc. for them to fork over every last piece of designer jewelry they own.

The same less-is-more principle applies to purses and watches. It doesn’t matter if you have a brand new Louis Vuitton purse AND a Rolex, there’s just no need to lug around a purse from house to house. Also, wearing a watch can be a problem because you don’t want to look bored when you’re actually just checking the time. I guarantee the only sorority girls wearing watches will be recruitment chairs whose job it is to keep everything running on time.

If you don’t own a piece of designer jewelry, never fear. The point is to look cute and pulled together, and as long as you steer clear of any knockoff Chanel earrings, you will be just fine sticking to classy and classic jewelry from Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters.

Wear cute flats, riding boots, or high heels.

I know that it might be chilly, but there really is no reason to wear Uggs during recruitment: you don’t want to blend in with the hundreds of other girls going through the process, and some sororities have a disdain for Uggs that may bias them against you. There is really no reason to wear them when there are so many other cute footwear options.

For the first couple of rounds, which are generally more casual, I suggest riding boots or a cute pair of flats. As the week goes on, you’ll want to transition into closed-toe heels that will keep your feet from freezing and your legs looking long and lean.

Shoes to wear during rush week

Product Information: Heels-Nordstrom, Boots- Endless, Flats- Nordstrom.

Wear your best-fitting jeans.

In general, I suggest wearing jeans for recruitment and staying away from leggings. If you’re model thin and have the perfect tunic to wear with your leggings, a pair of leggings could work, but most of us would be better off sticking with a great pair of jeans.

For the first (and maybe second) day of recruitment, your best bet is a pair of dark or medium wash skinny jeans with the aforementioned flats or boots (don’t forget to tuck the jeans in). If you’re really uncomfortable with how you look in skinny jeans, go for a flattering boot cut.

What to wear during sorority recruitment: jeans

Product Information (left to right): Arden B., Bluefly, Macy’s.

Wear appropriate outerwear.

The weather is the worst part of going through recruitment in January. The houses themselves will be plenty warm, but walking across Greek Row will probably be chilly.

At least at Vanderbilt, most houses provide a coat rack so you can drop off your coat right before you walk in. However, you still want to wear an attractive coat so in case you have to wear it in with you. A tailored, mid-length wool coat is your best bet. Check the weather to see if gloves, a scarf, or an umbrella is also necessary.

Coats to wear during rush week

Product Information: Searle, Victoria’s Secret, Dillard’s.

Wear bright colors.

This is especially important on the first day of recruitment. There are hundreds of other potential members going through recruitment, and no matter how fantastic your personality is, it is still a great idea to try to stand out with your clothing to help people remember you.

So pick a top that expresses your personality. If you’re the type of girl that loves an all black, sophisticated look, go for that. Just make sure it is sharp and contrasts with everything else you’re wearing. Also, many schools have a skit night or entertainment round during recruitment. This is the night to really have fun with your wardrobe by wearing a brightly colored skirt.

The final round of recruitment is always “preference night”. Some schools suggest sticking with a little black dress while other places suggest wearing a color. I think the latter advice is better. Since almost every sorority has their members wear either black or white on the final night, it can help to stand out in the room. Just keep in mind when one part of your outfit is bright, you can keep the rest of the ensemble in black and neutrals.

Wear bright colors during sorority recruitment

Product Information: Skirt- G by Guess, Top- Topshop, Dress- Nordstrom.

Above all, be yourself!

The biggest thing to remember about dressing for recruitment is to remain true to yourself. The entire point of recruitment is to find a group of women who you can call sisters for the rest of your life. So make sure not to get caught up in worrying about what you think you “should” look like- dress like the most pulled-together version of yourself and you’ll be great!

What do you think?

Please let me know your thoughts. If you’ve been through deferred recruitment before, is there anything I’ve left out? What did you wear? If you’re going through this year, is there anything else you’d like to know? Leave a comment and tell us.

Top image ©iStockphoto.com/sjlocke.

Posted on on January 8, 2010 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: ,

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39 Responses to “How to Dress for Sorority Recruitment in Winter”

  1. 1
    January 8th, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Ohh.. so jealous of you Americans and your sororities *_* I´d love to be part of one, I think you´ll graduate again in US just to be part of Greek life lol

  2. 2
    January 8th, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    So interesting to read this post – in Europe we only hear about sorority houses on TV ;)

    But no matter what, it’s important to be yourself and never forget your personal style, no matter what you think someone expects from you.

  3. 3
    January 8th, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    My suggestion to stand out, which is what I looked for in the girls I recruited is if you’re going to wear all black have something bold that stands out. Like a bright headband or a bright flower broach or a bright purse that makes the all-black stand out and gives something to talk about with the sisters.

  4. 4
    January 8th, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Great post! I especially liked the boots you featured.

  5. 5
    January 8th, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    above all else, make sure your clothes FIT well! at my school, we have summer rush, but the same rules apply — it doesn’t matter if you are wearing F21 or Alice + Olivia, if your bra is hanging out, skirt is too short, pants are too tight, you will get the pass. Think of rush like a job interview (albeit a more trendy one!)

  6. 6
    January 8th, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I’d love to get a post on sorority life, not just fashion! That could be quite interesting.

  7. 7
    January 8th, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    You Americans are so lucky to have soroities! I’d love to become a part of one, unfortunately, they don’t exist for where I live.

  8. 8
    January 8th, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    My suggestion for any PNM (potential new member) considering sorority recruitment is to wear something that stands out.

    We’re about to head into rush week at my school and we’re expecting about 1,000 girls to come out. During formal recruitment at my school it is a requirement that you go to every house on the first set of parties which spans three nights. That is a lot of time before the house has to vote on PNMs and you narrow your choices. So wear something memorable- every girl out there will more then likely be in jeans and boots/heels on the first night so add a great scarf or a colorful headband.

    One of my new member class was known as ‘Blair’ through recruitment because of her brunette hair and love of crazy headbands accessories. So once it came to voting the sisters asked who liked ‘Blair’ and they could immediately remember who she was.

    Stand out. have fun with your outfit and dont just stick with a black dress and pearls unless thats what you wear all the time. Recruitment is a time to find your perfect fit so have fun with your outfit and your sisters will end up loving you for it.

    Have fun- I wish I was going through recruitment again.

  9. 9
    January 8th, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    As a recruitment counselor, I suggested to my girls that they wear a “signature” piece of jewelery. Like a bold but classy necklace that would distinguish themselves from other potential new members.
    A signature piece would also help the sisters remember who you are.

    I LOVED recruitment!

  10. 10
    January 8th, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    and by a signature piece of jewelery, I mean wear it every day so it helps the sisters remember from the day before…

  11. 11
    January 8th, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    As a member of a sorority I would definitely suggest to stay true to who you are. It doesn’t matter if you are wearing designer clothes or Forever 21 as someone else commented, as long as you look presentable. I wouldn’t suggest wearing heels, because usually recruitment lasts a long time and heels wouldn’t be comfortable. But cleavage and tight fitting clothes definitely draw attention in a way you wouldn’t want, so just keep yourself covered up. And good luck, greek life is amazing no matter what sorority you join!

  12. 12
    January 8th, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Like most of the women above, I too am a sorority member. I want to point out that you don’t HAVE to wear uber-expensive items to be chosen to be a member. There are girls who wear the latest designs and most expensive jewelry, but don’t have the personality to mesh with the group of women they are trying to call their sisters. There are also girls who dress their best with what they have and are amazing women and they are usually the ones who get chosen to be called into the sisterhood. So, good luck to all PNMs! This sorority girl from Milwaukee wishes you all the best and remember to BE YOURSELF! :)

  13. 13
    January 8th, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Most places will tell you how to dress for each day. I agree that the first few days you want to wear something that makes you stand out! that is the best way my sisters and I will remember girls. We meet so many new girls that we can’t remember all the names but we will remember the cute jacket, the adorable heels, or the awesome necklace you sported that day!!!

  14. 14
    January 8th, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Don’t forget about NPHC too (black and multi-cultural sororities)! During my time “on-line” (instead of rush), we had to wear a certain color for every meeting. So make sure that you have plenty of stylish clothes in that color. Unfortunately for me I only had 1 black dress so I wore it for like a month in a row!

  15. 15
    January 8th, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    I will agree 100% with the posters before me wearing something that stands out! You NEED to make yourself stand out in the 500 girls going through recruitment (it depends on your school obviously).

  16. 16
    January 8th, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Hello! Also a sorority member. I want to put out another point of view out there. I think our house has few, if any girls that can actually afford any designer items. Its not important how you dress, but what your personality is. I think as long as you have clean clothes that look nice it does not matter if your daddy is rich. We never talk about clothes when we are picking new members, actually we a not allowed to (we actually have rules that forbid it). We can only discuss personality and attitude. You don’t have to spend a bunch of money on this, just be yourself and relax. The sisters that you meet will remember you for your awesome personality, and if they don’t they are simply not worth your time. Good luck, ladies!

  17. 17
    January 8th, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Any potentials need to check with their recruitment counselors about appropriate dress for the nights, because jeans and leggings would have gotten a girl thrown out and barred to even go through the doors at my school!

    We had a fashion show to show us what was appropriate to wear when going through, and dress is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, I don’t care what anyone else says. Personality is important as well, but if you show up looking that hell, we’re going to be offended. When in doubt about jewelry – go with pearls. No bras showing, no short skirts, no ridiculous amount of cleavage – you’re not dressing to go out clubbing to pick up guys, you’re dressing to meet girls who don’t want to see any of that. Presentation is key. HEELS OR NICE FLATS, NOT BOOTS. It is so much better to be overdressed than under-dressed, because I’m frankly surprised there are recruitments out there that are as casual as some of the above commenters have mentioned.

    Also – DON’T BE NERVOUS. We are probably even more nervous than you are, and it is okay to be yourself. If you fake a personality, you risk ending up in a group of girls that meshes with that but not with the real you. Have fun – I know it might seem hard at the time. Also, I know a lot of people want to “get into the best sorority” on campus, but you have to throw all your impressions of the houses out of the window when you come through. I know so many people that were hardcore for one house and ended up signing a card to another, myself included. This is your time to ask questions and get to know us – take advantage of it!

  18. 18
    January 8th, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    It seems that many of you who have commented have misunderstood my intentions or perhaps did not read to the end of the post. I believe if you read the article carefully, you will see I pointed out that designer items are not necessary and that girls should dress to stand out. My point was that PNM’s should present themselves in the best manner possible. For many girls that does include a nice item or two in their wardrobe that they either saved up for or received as a gift. As fellow sorority members I definitely value your input; however, please don’t rush to thinking I’m trying to be overly materialistic.

  19. 19
    January 9th, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Over in my school, you are not allowed to wear any accessory or any specific type of jeans during the first round of rush. During the first round, every rushing girl has to wear the uniform T-shirt from the school. Outerwears have to be taken off before entering the house. lol. So the only way you can stand out is your shoes (which I totally agree with this post), your looks and most importantly your personality. Be yourself of course but we all know that you should not be too yourself sometimes. Lets be realistic here, we only have a certain number of houses, if you express yourself too truthfully, the effects can be totally opposite.

    So advice for girls during recruitment: pay attention to your hair (make it shiny, thick and smooth), your teeth (whiten them before meeting the sisters); light and lovable make up, be cool (should not be over excited about any house); just express some main characters of yours that fit the house (sounds kinda horrible but works the best lol).

  20. 20
    January 9th, 2010 at 4:20 am

    Hey Moriah,

    I think the article was a great idea, and executed well. It had a nice mix of high and low, but well made and put together items. I don’t think the authors of the previous comments had the intentions of jumping to conclusions, but rather were stressing the suggestions you already made. It would be interesting to see follow up articles to this, especially to those of us who have no idea about sorority life.

  21. 21
    January 9th, 2010 at 4:50 am

    I’m a sister at one of the schools with Winter Recruitment (I am super excited) and I want to make one point clear: BE YOURSELF! There is no point in trying to wear pearls if you’re not a “pearl girl” or forcing yourself into something you’re not comfortable with. There are lots of different kinds of sororities on campus and if you are yourself, the house that is right for you will find you. Trust me! :) Going Greek is one of the best decisions I’ve made!

    That being said, make sure you being yourself stands out! Everyone at my school owns a Northface jacket, a Vera Bradley purse or knockoff and Birkenstocks or Uggs. Mix it up – be the girl with the PERFECT jeans or the awesome owl necklace. We want to see you shine through!

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the blue heels featured. Absolutely adorable!

  22. 22
    January 9th, 2010 at 7:04 am

    I like your piece, very well written and interesting. it’s fascinating from the point of view of a UK student, where we really don’t have anything comparable. I would like to write a feature about sorority customs for the Oxford newspaper Cherwell, and it would be great if you could help my research / provide an interview. Let me know if this would be of interest!

  23. 23
    January 9th, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    For those of you interested in classy jewelry. Take a look at my Freshwater Pearls. They not only will carry you through Pledging but into the future also. I do have on signature piece right now. A Vintage Kenneth Lane Necklace. I wish you all a fun future.

  24. 24
    January 9th, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Living in the Nordic countries, I have no experience of sorority life – like someone said, we only hear about it on tv. However, it’s nice to hear that there are sororities who make a point of NOT recruiting based on dress or looks.

    I get that creating a positive and lasting impression during rush is crucial – but I personally wouldn’t want to join a sorority that, for example, has a policy against a certain type of shoes…

    Anyway, great article! Like previous posters, I too would love an article about sorority life.

  25. 25
    January 9th, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    This is a great article. I was wondering if you could do one based on what to wear for NPHC sororities. These historically black sororities usually require you to dress in business casual. I have no earthly idea how to do that and I FEEL an interest meeting coming up for the sorority I’m interested in.

  26. 26
    January 9th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Business Casual is dressy but not suit and tie. Example a pair of pressed slacks/ skirt with a blouse and sweater or a twin set. Medium Heel and conservative jewelry. Polish nails, light make up. think about what you would wear to church on Sunday. No too tight,r too short or see through cloths .

    I hope this helps.

  27. 27
    January 9th, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks Judy! :-D

  28. 28
    January 10th, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    i think this article has a lot of great information and the posters also added some great stuff.
    Just make sure you are following all the rules of recruitment when it comes to dressing. As some other posters has mentioned, my recruitment (small private southern college) was much more formal than some of the outfits that were posted, i was in cocktail dresses.

  29. 29
    January 11th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I was super excited to see this post! I’m a sorority alumna, and you’ve made some great points. Recruitment is very different at various schools, so be sure to ask your Rho Gamma/Pi Chi/whatever-her-name-is all kinds of questions! They should know the standard way of dressing as well as any other details you’ll need to know about the process.

    My undergrad chapter is starting informal recruitment tomorrow, so I’m super excited for them! My school is very laid-back and has only 2 Panhellenic chapters (unlike other schools with 14 or 15 chapters!) so be sure to seek advice at your own campus. Good luck to all actives and potential new members!

  30. 30
    January 23rd, 2010 at 10:52 am

    i sayy, light clean make up (no dark colors) little jewlry depending on your outfit and your color wool coat with jeans and matching flats is a perfect way to impress recruters!!

  31. 31
    July 7th, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    One thing that worked really well for me when I went through was wearing a charm bracelet that I had collected a bunch of little pieces on over time. It was a GREAT conversation starter! I highly suggest bringing a statement piece of jewelry along! You may find that you have something in common with someone that you never would have imagned!

  32. 32
    December 26th, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks, this is helpful! I’m really excited about rush but was raised in a home in which fashion was strongly discouraged. As a result, I know nothing about how to shop or pick fashionable clothes. I’m scared that no sorority will want a girl who knows nothing about dressing fashionably. However, I’ll give it my best shot and hope my personality wins out!

    Thanks for the helpful article!

  33. 33
    February 22nd, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    any chance you can reveal what sorority you belong to at vandy? thanks!

  34. 34
    August 9th, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    As a current sorority girl at a school with a modest greek life, I say skip the leggings. Even if you have the perfect body to pull them off, they just aren’t dressy enough. It looks like you’re not trying hard enough or not taking the whole thing seriously. Houses might cut you because they don’t want someone that’s possibly going to drop out. Just wear skinny jeans (without holesor rips) to the more casual rounds- they look much more polished!

  35. 35
    August 24th, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Definately keep your look consistent. I think the most important rule of thumb is to keep the same hairstyle so you are easily recognizable. When I rushed, I wore high heels each night (my signature) so I stood out from the other girls in boots and sneakers. It’s always a great idea to have a signature, and it’s a conversation starter!

  36. 36
    February 11th, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Very informative piece. Many many thanks

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