Rush is a time to show off your personal style—right? Of course, but with a few crucial stipulations. This is your one chance to show hundreds of sorority girls that you are the coolest chick on campus, and your style should reflect that idea. But be careful—you want to show your personal style, of course, but you also want to fine-tune your style so you look the absolute best you can. Your favorite outfit may be your Uggs, your Juicy sweats, and your American Apparel acid-washed zip-up, but by no means should you wear that when you’re schmoozing sorority sisters. Think of rush as a job interview—you’re trying to make a great first impression, which means you should look poised, polished, and totally professional at all times. You want to show everyone that you mean business! And in order to do that, you should be careful to avoid these style pitfalls so you can walk tall and make your mark on Sorority Row. Will these rules apply to every single sorority at every single school? Of course not. But we did our best to have you covered and give you some general pointers so you can’t go wrong. We present to you our Top Ten Sorority Rush Fashion Don’ts:
I know it’s way below freezing outside, and I know stepping into your favorite Aussie boots is like engulfing your feet in a luxuriously thick animal skin, but seriously, RESIST THE URGE. Uggs look sloppy and unpolished, and they make you look like you don’t care enough to take the time to put on real shoes. If your feet are cold (which they probably will be), wear your Uggs as you walk from house to house, and then change your shoes outside between rounds—that way, you won’t have to compromise comfort and ruin your nice shoes with salt and snow! If possible, bring a plastic bag to put your Uggs in. If you can’t, there should be an area by the porch where you can put your stuff—just make sure it’s all together so you don’t lose it!
Like Uggs, sweatpants scream laziness. I know it’s incredibly difficult to pull on your skinny jeans after a month of holiday chocolates and MTV marathons, but wearing sweatpants to rush—even nice, fitted yoga pants—will likely get you cut from a house immediately. In fact, I have a friend who didn’t like a particular house, and she deliberately wore sweatpants there to see what would happen—she wasn’t invited back. Leggings are okay, but only during the first round, and only if you wear them with a shirt that covers your butt—nothing says “no fashion sense” like looking like you forgot your pants! For more on the dangers of leggings, refer to Scott’s article on fashion mistakes you don’t even realize you’re making (remember: the threat of cameltoe is too great.).
3. Low-cut or tight clothing
While Uggs and sweatpants are a no-no because they look sloppy, low-cut and tight clothes are a no-no because they’re just plain inappropriate. Rush is not a frat party; there are no guys to impress, so don’t show too much skin during rush. Sorority girls don’t want you to look too “hot” for rush; they want to know you can look classy and sophisticated, not that you can get a guy to go home with you with your Victoria’s Secret push-up and a bandage skirt. Dressing too sexy leaves nothing to the imagination, and sends a message that if you dress like that to rush, you’ll dress even sexier to a party. Make sure to cover it up and show off all your assets, not just your physical ones! Remember that you’re trying to look “girl hot”, not “guy hot”.
4. Messy or Crazy Hair
You may love experimenting with your tresses, but rush is not the place to go crazy with your ‘do. If you were thinking about going ahead with that pink streak in the front, hold off until after this week is over. If you wanted to experiment with Snooki’s “poof”, do it in the privacy of your own dorm room, for everyone’s sake. Your hair, like the rest of you, should look classy, polished, and well-groomed. Unless you can get your curls completely under control (and for that I commend you), blow your hair out straight, or use rollers or a curling iron to give it a little wave. If you have curly hair, and you need to let it air-dry, don’t EVER shower in the morning and show up to rush with wet hair. Either do it the night before, or just take the extra time to blow it out. Nothing says you don’t care like wet or messy hair, and with gorgeous hair comes a huge confidence boost, which will help you leave a better impression!
Watches do add a polished touch to any outfit, but they’re an absolute no-no for rush. Wearing a watch tempts you to look at it, and nothing shows disinterest in a conversation more than checking the time. You will always be remembered as being disengaged, and no matter how awesome you look and how great your conversations were, you won’t be invited back. Every sorority house wants you to appear totally interested in them, and breaking away from the conversation, even for a second, makes you stand out in a bad way. So lose the watch, even if it’s really nice, and avoid temptation altogether.
6. Logos, writing or patterns
Unless they’re really subtle, prints are usually not a good idea for rush. They’re distracting, and if you don’t pair them perfectly they can look cheap or tacky. You can wear one printed piece, like a floral top or an awesome herringbone jacket, but never mix prints and make sure they’re not too loud. Even stripes can be tricky if you don’t pair them with dark colors and simple accessories, so if you’re not totally confident in your taste, leave the patterns behind. And definitely avoid all writings and logos—even if your outfit is a really good brand, you don’t need to show it off—if it’s nice, the girls will be able to tell. It’s more sophisticated to project an image of effortless style and grace than conspicuous consumption and desperation, which is what excessively loud logos and labels scream.
7. Sparkles or Sequins
Yes, glitter and glitz is totally in right now—but only after 10 p.m. Believe me, I love sequins as much as the next girl—they’re fun, flirty and totally attention-grabbing—but they are definitely not okay for rush. Just like low-cut or tight clothing, too much glitz shows sorority girls that you don’t know how to look classy and professional, and makes you look like all you do is party. Be sure to separate day and night—party clothes are never appropriate for a job interview, and therefore, they’re never appropriate for rush. A sequined blazer might be okay for round 1 or 2, but beyond that, set the sparkles aside for mixer season.
8. Fake Tan
I know you want to have a beautiful golden glow for rush (especially if you didn’t get to go on a fabulous tropical vacation, and if you did, I am extremely jealous of you), but fake baking is definitely not the way to do it. Without even mentioning the health concerns (which are serious—hello, skin cancer?), fake tanning projects completely the wrong image—it makes you look just as ingenuous as your orange hue. If you absolutely insist on adding a little color to your winter-white limbs, try a body bronzer, like DuWop Revolution, or a gradual self-tanner, like Neutrogena Build-A-Tan).
9. Sneakers and Uber-High Heels
Like Uggs and flip-flops, sneakers are just not appropriate for rush, no matter how much you may love them. Even “everyday” sneakers like Converse or Saucony are way too casual to wear, even during the first round, and running shoes are completely off-limits. If your school is in a warm place and you don’t want to walk from house to house in heels, you can wear sneakers or flip-flops, but I wouldn’t even suggest that—sneakers take too long to lace up and flip-flops are way too informal. Wear flats instead; they’re much classier and more versatile. If you’re going to wear heels, make sure they’re not too uncomfortable. You’ll be on your feet a lot, even inside the houses, and you don’t want to look like you’re in pain while touring the houses or walking in and out the door! Also, make sure your shoes fit perfectly. Shuffling around like a five-year-old in your mom’s heels doesn’t exactly radiate poise and confidence.
10. Too Much Makeup
Like crazy hairstyles and fake tans, excessive makeup has no place in rush. This is not a chance to experiment with a smoky eye or bright red lipstick; you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard. In fact, you shouldn’t look like you’re wearing any makeup at all—think Clinique, not M.A.C. Too much foundation, bronzer and eyeliner makes you look fake and plastic, like Heidi Montag. Go instead for a natural, polished look—a little blush and minimal bronzer, eyeliner at the corners of your eyes and mascara, maybe a clear or neutral lip gloss.
But just remember—we’re not telling you to sacrifice your personal style for rush. Rush is all about showing sororities who you are, not who other people think you should be. You want to look polished and put-together, but you want to look like YOU at the same time—a polished, put-together version of you. Putting your best face out there makes you feel confident, and in turn, the sisters will be drawn to you!