College is the perfect place to join clubs, meet friends and figure out what you’re passionate about. For many, rushing and joining a sorority is on their bucket list to make the most out of their four years. The process starts with rush or recruitment week, and dressing to impress is crucial. Each school, sorority and event has a slightly different dress code, but here's the gist of what to wear for every stage of rush.
House tours are usually the most casual event, so you have a lot of flexibility with what to wear. Ashleigh, who is in a sorority at Illinois State University, says that the house tours are a more relaxed round where you see the different sorority houses. At her school, girls are given a rush T-shirt, which they can wear with any pants. This is the perfect time to whip out your favorite jean shorts or boyfriend jeans, because that will match with any style of rush shirt they give you. Ashleigh wore her rush T-shirt with patterned shorts. Since all you’re required to wear is the tee, you can add any bottoms that match, and then finish the look with open-toed shoes (any excuse not to wear high heels is a plus for me). Since it’s less formal, try pairing the outfit with some tan sandals to celebrate the summer weather!
Gabby, who is in a sorority at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, didn’t have required T-shirts during tours, but she also chose more casual clothing. While walking through the different sorority houses, she wore lacy black shorts, a nice top, a cardigan and sandals. I’m a fan of Target’s sandals since they’re affordable and cute (like these, $19.99 at Target), although you can also wear expensive, genuine leather sandals if you want a long-lasting pair.
Sisterhood and Philanthropy events
Every college and council has a slightly different rush or recruitment schedule, but the welcome rounds, open house, sisterhood events and philanthropy events are typically medium-level of formal. At her college, Ashleigh says the dress code is “cute but casual” and includes sundresses, rompers or a shirt/shorts combo paired with heels or sandals.
The best part about welcome rounds is that some schools break it in half, where you see half the chapters one day and the other half the next, so Ashleigh was able to wear the same thing twice. She wore a blue sundress with nude wedges and simple earrings on the first two days. “This can help save money and allow girls to pick out an outfit they really like and feel comfortable in,” she says. For the philanthropy round, Ashleigh wore a cute but conservative romper with sandals.
During the philanthropy event, Gabby also wore a romper, along with a light cardigan and sandals. She chose a flowered sundress, light cardigan and sandals for the sisterhood event. This is a great opportunity to pull out your favorite summer romper (like this one or this one, $22.90 and $24.90 from Forever 21).
When Sammy went through recruitment two years ago at Kent State University, she wore a cold-shoulder, floral romper with sandals one day. Another day, she picked out dark wash jeans, sandals and a tank top blouse with a keyhole neckline. She likes to think of the first round as fashionable business casual, because "you still want to look put together but not dressed super formally." For the second round, which is a little fancier than the first, Sammy donned an Olive and Oak black and white marble dress with black Dr. Marten boots. Take note: even boots are acceptable and trendy during recruitment.
Preference round or preference night is the most formal event. At Illinois State University, this is when the girls go to their last two houses. “This is the most serious day of rush week, and is also the day when girls should wear a nicer dress and heels,” Ashleigh advises. At Cal Poly, Preference Round is when the sorority shows you what makes their sisterhood special, so it’s a formal event. At Kent State University, Preference Round is the dressiest, but still not homecoming or cocktail attire fancy.
So what did these students wear? Ashleigh wore her nicest dress of the week with nude heels and a chunky necklace. Gabby picked a short, flowy blue dress with brown wedges. Sammy chose a black shift dress from Aritzia with slash zipper pocket details and sandals.
“For the third round, Preference Round, I would recommend wearing a dress with nice sandals or heels/wedges. I would go a little fancier than just a sun dress but nothing too formal,” Sammy recommends. Since rush or recruitment often involves walking and standing a lot, it’s smart to opt for comfier wedges to dress up a look.
So how formal do you need to be?
Okay, so you’re ready to start picking pieces that are recruitment-ready. Most importantly, choose comfortable clothes. "Rush week is LONG and you don't want to be worrying about your outfit instead of the process," Ashleigh says. Gabby agrees that comfort should be a priority and suggests that you "think of it like what you might wear on a first date. Wear something you feel cute and confident in.” This also applies to shoes—Sammy explains the main reason she wore flat sandals was because she’d be standing in them for long periods of time.
And no matter whether you decide to shop or pack what you have, keep it professional and classy. "If you have to second guess whether your dress it too short, low cut or not nice enough, then don't wear it," Ashleigh says. This applies to all rounds—look professional. "No ripped jeans/clothes, no butts, no boobs and no backs. Stray away from anything with major cutouts, low necklines and super short hemlines."
If you decide to buy new clothes for rush, make sure they fit with your current style. Utilize those back to school clothes—or check out some affordable items at Forever 21. “Don't go out and buy something that doesn't express who you are or buy something just because it’s ‘new,'" Ashleigh says. Basically, as long as you keep it classy, you can mix and match with necklaces, dresses, shorts, sandals and wedges to craft the perfect look for every recruitment event. A great rush outfit will make you confident and ready to make your first friends in college.