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What to Wear to Rush: Your Complete Guide

At some point this summer, between working, interning, and spending time with your family, your school’s sorority recruitment guide came in the mail. Like a lot of collegiettes (and pre-collegiettes), you may have been anticipating this moment because it means you can start getting ready for rush! The guide will tell you when it starts, where orientation and convocation will take place, and how long the process lasts. But will it tell you what to wear? Sure, there are some pictures and a short description, but how does that help you when you’re in the mall, staring at 10 different dresses, unsure of which one would be appropriate for Pref Night? Well don’t worry; we have some tips, tricks, and helpful hints to ensure that you’ll be looking absolutely fabulous for rush.

One of the most important tips we can give you is to check your recruitment guide first! Every school is different. You might be going to your school’s Philanthropy Day outfitted in a dress and wedges, while your best friend who’s going to a school in a different state is wearing shorts and a recruitment T-shirt. Be sure to read your recruitment guide thoroughly for any dress code guidelines before heading to the mall!

Separates (Casual Wear)

Wear to: Open House Rounds, Bid Day

This process was given the name “rush” for a reason. Throughout the first couple of days, you will literally be rushing from house to house, meeting all of your possible sisters and answering all of the same questions over and over. Since rush takes place towards the end of the summer, count on having to walk around in the heat for a majority of the week. Those are the days when you’re going to be most active, so dressing casually and comfortably is key. If your school requires you to wear recruitment T-shirts, add some flair to your outfit by wearing unique shorts. Scalloped shorts or a pair with a cute pattern will make you stand out when you’re standing next to all the girls in jean shorts!

University of South Carolina junior and Gamma Phi Beta sister Emily Burke dressed up a casual outfit with prints when she rushed. “We were given two T-shirts to wear for the four days so that made it somewhat easier to decide what to wear,” she says. “For shorts, I as well as some of my other friends all went out to Belk and found shorts, mostly Lilly [Pulitzer], that matched our shirts.” Wearing printed shorts is a great way to showcase your unique style, but remember: you always want to leave a good impression, so make sure the print isn’t extremely loud and that it matches your recruitment shirt in some way.

If neither of these options suits you, keep it simple! “Bright colors and busy patterns are very much a part of the rush process, but you don’t have to go with that look!” says senior Kaitlin Noe, former Vice President of Event Planning for Phi Beta Phi at the College of William and Mary. The most important thing is to be confident in what you’re wearing so you can show off your personality. A cute pair of shorts paired with a simple T-shirt and a comfortable pair of sandals is the perfect outfit to wear on those casual days.

For those who aren’t required to wear recruitment T-shirts, make sure your tops don’t weigh you down. Layering a tank top underneath a sheer shirt always looks nice, but after walking to five or six houses in the summer heat, you’re going to wish you had stuck with the tank top and left the shirt at home.  Pick up some fitted T-shirts in different colors to keep you looking both comfortable and stylish. A plain tee matched with your patterned shorts is sure to bring some positive attention your way! If you absolutely can’t resist wearing something a little dressier, a nice chiffon top is a great option for a casual night.


Casual Dresses

Wear to: Philanthropy Day, Skit Day

At most colleges, Philanthropy Day, the day when you learn about each chapter’s national philanthropy, and “Skit Day” (if your school has one) require dressier attire than the open house rounds. On these days, opt for a nice dress and a stylish yet comfortable pair of sandals or wedges. Regardless of what your style is, you can still find something that you’ll not only look great in, but will be confident in as well. If the classic look suits you, then pairing a chevron sundress with a pair of simple sandals will give you a sophisticated look. For those of you who would like to be a little more daring, choose a dress with a bold print to really stand out!

Semiformal/Cocktail Attire

Wear to: Preference Day/Night

Prepping for the dressiest night of them all, Preference Night, requires a little more effort than the other nights. On this day, sundresses are not acceptable and flat sandals should be avoided. Dress as though you’re going to a rehearsal dinner at a nice restaurant; you shouldn’t wear sandals or anything too risqué. “The idea was to be classy,” Emily says. “We weren’t there to show leg and catch guys’ eyes.”

It’s always a good idea to have a little black dress, even after you finish rushing. A simple dress paired with some chic heels is the perfect outfit for Preference Night! If you decide to stick with a simple dress, adding jewelry is the best way to add some personality to your outfit. Little black dresses are extremely versatile, so you can add different jewelry to complement your style. You can also add your own flair by adding a slight touch of color to your makeup! The classic sorority girl look has always included pearls, so donning a string will definitely add a touch of elegance to your ensemble. If pearls aren’t your thing, pick up a long chain necklace, throw your hair into a high bun, and stack on some gold bracelets for different look.

Sick of your LBD? Colorful dresses work just as well! Just keep in mind that hundreds of girls walk in and out of the Greek houses over the course of one week. Although they might not remember your name, your possible sisters will definitely refer to you by your outfit – make sure they remember you as “the girl in the pretty blue floral dress” and not as “the girl whose neon yellow dress blinded me.” Also, make sure you have the appropriate shoes to match your dress. Go ahead and pull out that red dress with lace accents, but wear a sensible pair of nude heels. “I would avoid any sky-high, super thin stilettos,” Kaitlin says. “If you’re uncomfortable, it’s going to come across in conversation and you will seem distracted or awkward.” A jewel-tone dress paired with a pair of black pumps and topped off with a nice updo is sure to be a crowd favorite.

Last Minute Tips

  • Read the Recruitment Guide your school sends you! Most likely, it will tell you all of the attire required for each day, along with suggestions for what to wear and pictures. Also, if “Skit Day” is part of your school’s Rush Week, check to see if there is a theme so you can dress accordingly.
  • Avoid wearing anything that has been ripped, distressed, or torn at all costs. Although they don’t really tell you what NOT to wear in those recruitment guides, it’s a sign of respect to dress properly and be polished when you head to your future sisters’ house.
  • Jewelry is great for adding personality to your outfits, but don’t let it overwhelm you! A bubble necklace on its own is nice, but a large statement necklace, super long earrings, and stacked bracelets all together can be a bit overpowering.
  • Carry an extra pair of shoes. You may look cute for the first 10 minutes, but after walking across campus in 4-inch heels for hours, your feet will be in some serious pain. Comfortable sandals are a necessity!
  • Toting around a huge bag is exhausting after a few hours, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a small purse or clutch to hold your necessities (sandals, lip balm, gum, wallet, etc.).
  • Don’t worry about wearing the brightest or loudest items. Your personality will outshine your outfit every time! Being confident in what you’re wearing is 10 times more important than buying the trendiest clothes in the store.

Take these tips into consideration when you’re shopping for your Rush Week outfits! Remember, no matter what you’re wearing, the amount of confidence that you have in yourself outweighs any Lilly Pulitzer dress or J.Crew statement necklace.

Kayla is a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. Along with studying public relations in the School of Mass Communications, she is also minoring in Spanish and becoming familiar with aspects of graphic design. Kayla loves binge-watching episodes of Once Upon a Time, eating ice cream, traveling, swimming in the ocean and, of course, writing. She currently does PR & marketing for  local orthopedic practice but plans to continue writing and hopes to  join a local public relations firm in the future!
Quinn Cohane is the Product Manager at Her Campus. She develops new features for Her Campus's web properties, including HerCampus.com, HerCampusMedia.com, HerConference.com, and CollegeFashionWeek.com, from initial conception to final installation. She collaborates with the Client Services team to implement custom landing pages, content hubs and sponsored content for client campaigns. Quinn also works closely with the Chapter Development team, training new team members on using Her Campus's content management system and leading the onboarding of new Campus Correspondents, national writers and bloggers, and national interns. Additionally, she oversees technical support for Her Campus and the uploading of national content. Quinn first joined the Her Campus team as a remote intern in February 2010; her past roles include Production Associate, Digital Media Manager, Chapter Advisor, and Study Abroad blogger during her semester in Copenhagen, Denmark. She graduated Cum Laude from Bowdoin College in 2013 as an English major and computer science minor. A native of Scarsdale, New York, Quinn enjoys attending theater and dance performances, traveling the world, reading, the beach, and apple crumb pie. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @quinncohane.