Why What You Wear During Sorority Recruitment Really DOES Matter

By admin, December 20, 2010

In just moments, you will finally step into the first party of sorority recruitment week. You have put a lot of thought into exactly what you are going to wear today, right down to the special bracelet that was the perfect finale for your outfit. You ironed your clothes (which you don’t often do) the night before, and you even cracked open some special new makeup just for the occasion.

Your skin is clear, your eyes are bright, and you smell good. You just got your hair done two days ago, in anticipation of recruitment, and today for some reason, it was on its best behavior for you. It works. Everything about you works. You look great, and you feel great. That smile on your face? It’s 50% nervous anticipation, 50% excitement, and 0% fear about your appearance.

Imagine your reaction when you realize the sorority members have not put as much energy into preparing to meet you.


“There is no denying that people can,
consciously or unconsciously,
make snap judgments
based on little information.
– How to Get into Top Colleges


The first woman you meet seems to be under-dressed. Her sisters are all wearing similar clothes, but her shirt is not tucked in as are the shirts of the others, and are those slippers on her feet? While you answer her questions, she looks around the room and chews on her nails. You have a decent conversation with her for a few minutes when along comes a second sorority member.

Noticing this next woman does not have slippers on her feet, you are feeling a bit better and begin your conversation. After talking with her for just a few seconds, you realize she looks like she may have just woken up or like she perhaps has a cold. She sounds fine, and her energy is upbeat, but she doesn’t seem to have any lip color, natural or otherwise, plus her hair is very clearly a mess—and not in a stylish way. Are those pillow marks on her cheek? What is going on with the finger in her ear? Has she not heard of a Q-Tip? She just doesn’t sparkle the way you expected she might. Thank goodness she doesn’t have bad breath.


“If facial behavior contradicts verbal
behavior, the facial expression will dominate
the impact of the total message.”

– Competency-Based Interviews


As the third woman approaches you, you realize it is time to close that second conversation, and hope this member will redeem the sorority. She is introduced as the sorority’s vice president, which must mean she is more mature and understands it is appropriate to be presentable in a situation like this.

Although she is a fascinating woman, and you have found a few things in common during your conversation, you cannot help but notice that this woman has chosen to wear a bright purple bra that is plainly obvious through the shirt—and her skirt is FAR too short. She cannot stop moving from side to side and does not seem to be able to look you in the eye for more than two seconds.

As the party comes to a close, you thank the third woman for her hospitality and step out of the event, wondering if you were actually being recorded for a reality show. You are in shock anyone would be so lackadaisical about her appearance during sorority recruitment.

“What is nonverbal communication?
Every type of communication
we use to send a message
except the
actual words we choose.”
Competency-Based Interviews

How would you feel if you spent a lot of time and energy preparing to meet someone and that person spent no time preparing to see you? Even though your conversations were good, how would you feel about returning to this sorority? About being seen on campus with any one of these women you just met?

The above story is completely fictional and you would never in a million years have this experience during sorority recruitment.  However, by the end of the story, you likely grasped the absurdity of “come as you are” advice which masquerades as the attire recommendation on many campuses.

Sorority members believe the way they present themselves conveys the pride they feel in their sorority.  Knowing this, it is conceivable they are looking for new members who also present themselves in a confident and prideful manner.


“Most interviewers make up their
minds quickly about candidates—
within the first 15 seconds to
2 minutes of the interview.”
Competency-Based Interviews

What does this mean for you?  The way you look will send a strong signal about your fit with a sorority.  In fact, demonstrating you know how to dress appropriately is a sign of maturity.  Sorority members know an immature member is a recipe for disaster.  Your mature ability to dress appropriately will not be interpreted as a lack of creativity or as an indicator you want to lose your identity upon accepting a bid for membership.

When it comes to “revealing your best YOU,” make sure your attire, your accessories, your makeup, your hair, your hygiene, and most important, your body language all send the right signals.  With a bit of thoughtful planning, you can confidently step into sorority recruitment, knowing you are showing off the best YOU possible.

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SUNDAY TOLLEFSON is an author, professional speaker, coach, and a leading authority on sorority recruitment preparation. She is the author of RUSH RIGHT: Reveal Your Best YOU During Sorority Recruitment and the founder of SureSister.com. As a collegian, she served her Sigma Kappa Sorority chapter as vice president of recruitment and disaffiliated to become a Panhellenic recruitment counselor. As an alumna, Sunday oversaw recruitment as a national recruitment supervisor and volunteered for the Sigma Kappa Foundation‘s Scholarship Committee, among various other roles. Sunday can be reached at petals (at) SureSister.com.

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