First, "rush" is a brief period - typically only a week and also known as "formal recruitment" - where potential sorority members ("rushees") visit various houses and get to know the members of each house. At some schools, rushees are required to visit every single house and attend all rush events while at other schools, rushees can choose whichever house(s) they are interested in and attend their events.
The first few days of rush are very casual. After signing up, you will be placed in a "rush group" with a few other rushees. You guys will visit the various houses - most of which will be holding casual parties with food and drinks (non-alcoholic). These are great opportunities to meet new sisters and get a sense of which sorority seems like a good fit for you.
As rush goes on, events get more and more formal. Expect cocktail parties, mixers with fraternities, and one-on-one interviews with active members of the houses. Don't fret though, these aren't like job interviews that you have to do a bunch of prepping for. They'll just consist of questions like "What are your interests?", "What are you studying?", etc. Also, these later rush events are oftentimes invite-only, so it's important to impress at the casual, early rush events so you can secure an invitation to the exclusive events later on.
Finally, rush ends with "bid day" where sororities give out "bids" - or invitations of membership - to girls that they would like in their house. Receiving a bid from a sorority is much like receiving a job offer - you've impressed your employer (in this case the sorority house) and now all the power is in your hands. You can decide which sorority you want to join if you receive multiple bids or you can decide not to join one at all if you realize that Greek life isn't right for you.
While the most important thing is to be yourself while rushing - don't be pressured into doing anything you're uncomfortable with or try to change yourself into what you think the sorority is looking for just to receive a bid - you will also be judged a lot based on your appearance and clothing. After all, put a couple of hundred girls together and you're bound to receive lots of up-and-down outfit glances and hear whispers of "Ugh look at that fake Chanel. So tacky" and screams of "Oh my gosh I love your dress."
Below are some outfit examples and tips on what to wear during the four days that you will typically spend with each sorority.
Tops and Jackets: Slouch Tee: All Tops | Athleta, $39 DIESEL Mintha Shorts in White at Revolve Clothing - Free Shipping!, $54 Matisse Naples, $15 Turquoise 'Mia' studded clutch bag, 21 GBP Key Stud Earrings, Silvertone, $18 Betsey Johnson 'Under the Sea' Conch Shell Pendant, $50
As I mentioned earlier, the beginning of rush is generally very casual - unless you go to school at universities (particularly ones in the southern states) where Greek life has a huge presence on campus. Since you will be visiting different sorority houses, prepare to do plenty of walking. Therefore you want to dress comfortably - in particular, wear comfortable shoes that have been broken in. You want to focus on meeting the sisters in each house, not on how much that blister on your toe hurts.
Since the weather is still pretty balmy in much of the country during rush week, shorts and sandals are the way to go for the first day of rush. But rather than denim cutoffs, opt for a more fashionable look with white shorts (white is okay even if it's after labor day!). Then throw on a draped tee in a neutral color for a look that's sexy yet not too revealing.
As for shoes, you can't go wrong with a pair of simple sandals. These turquoise ones looks great with the white shorts and gray top. Gladiator sandals would also make a great choice here. I wouldn't recommend flip flops as they may come across as being too casual and leather flats are a bit too formal for day one.
As for accessories, simplicity is key. On this day, you will be shaking lots of hands, so try to stray away from big cocktail rings and dangly bracelets. This exquisite little shell pendant by Betsey Johnson makes the whole outfit pop and is a great conversation piece. You want to stand out from the crowd and be remembered, so along with having a great personality, this unique eye-catching piece might just help you with that.
The studded turquoise clutch plays on the color combination of the sandals and pendant. Finally, put on a pair of small, shiny earrings. Having something that glitters in the light will make you stand out more, but make sure it's small in order to not look tacky and over-the-top.
fairtrade shrug, $24 Women's AE Hook & Eye Cami - American Eagle Outfitters, $16 Mid-rise slim-leg jeans, $89 Perry Denim Ballet Flats, $100 Small Quilted Purple Clutch Bag, $40 Giant Vintage Crystal Cocktail Ring (Clear & Sky Blue), 28 GBP Tasha 'Stained Glass' Headband, $28
Day two of rush is a more formal affair although it's still not time to break out a cocktail dress. This day will typically involve some casual sit-down chats at various sorority houses.
Again, you want to look stylish and pretty yet not like you're trying too hard. I think a feminine top and dark, skinny jeans are the way to go. This day is a great time to wear flats since it's a little too early to wear heels yet also too formal for sandals.
I know some people advise against bringing handbags or clutches to rush events as you will be going from place to place and such things can become inconvenient. However, I think a girl's got to have a place to hold her chapstick, phone, and compact, so I've included a clutch in each of the outfits. Look for a clutch with a chain or wristlet - it makes them so much easier to carry.
Since you could end up sitting around in air conditioned houses for quite a while, wear a cardigan if you get cold easily. An icy, frigid hand is not fun to shake. However, if you're someone who gets nervous and sweats easily, then don't wear a cardigan as it can be a hassle to carry around.
As for accessories, headbands are the way to go. They're girly, polished, and chic. Since the top and cardigan here are already very feminine, I looked for metal detailing in the headband rather than floral ones which are very popular in the market today. Wear simple studs or no earrings at all since there's already lots of details going on in this look. Finally, since the arms are busy with the lace cardigan sleeves, I opted for a cocktail ring instead of bracelets. Just make sure to wear the ring on the hand not used for shaking hands.
Supertrash Printed Chiffon And Jersey Mix Dress, $54 Steve Madden Womens Daynty Open-Toe Clog, $90 White chunky stud clutch bag, 30 GBP Jessica Simpson - Glam Garden Hoop Leaf Earrings (Silver) - Jewelry, $25 OPI CUCKOO FOR THIS COLOR NAIL LACQUER (15ML), 13 GBP
Now comes the two "fancy" days of rushing. On day three, girls at each house will most likely all be wearing dresses, so you should too! But don't go all-out just yet - rush is not over and since the events get more formal as the days go on, save your fancy dresses for last.
The key for those last few days of rush week is to get that dressed-up look without being too fancy. Sundresses are a little too casual yet cocktail dresses are too formal. So I would recommend fitted or draped jersey dresses, colorful silk frocks, or a pretty floral-print piece. This chiffon-and-jersey mix dress from ASOS is just perfect: the black dress looks elegant and the floral accents makes the piece more lively and unique. Also, be careful about wearing an all-black dress as that can also look too formal. Sorority life is about sisterhood and having fun, so go for some bright colors.
As for shoes, it's also about hitting that perfect balance between formal and casual. I wouldn't recommend dressy pumps but I think clogs are just perfect. These buttery camel-hued ones from Steve Madden are comfortable to walk in and will make your legs look mile-long. Plus, clogs are super trendy this fall, so you should definitely pick up a pair. Other options that work well are wooden wedges, booties, or brown leather boots.
When it comes to accessorizing, keep things simple as usual. These silver hooped-leaf earrings lend a sophisticated touch to the youthful outfit and the white studded clutch is a great investment piece as it can go with pretty much any outfit.
Lipsy Beaded Waist Gathered Bust Dress, $74 GYLDA, 49 GBP ASOS Conical Stud Feather Clutch Bag, $25 Grey feather drop earrings, 9 GBP dELiAs > Nail Polish >, $4.50
Day four of rush week is typically Pref Night, a very formal occasion where rushees are invited to learn the ritual aspects of sorority life. It involves ritualistic ceremonies and is usually your last chance to secure a bid before bid day. Therefore it's all the more important to dress to impress!
This is definitely the time to break out that cute little cocktail dress. Remember, cocktail dress, not gowns or prom dresses. While many girls show up in black cocktail dresses, I strongly encourage you readers to think outside of the box. Go for something jewel-toned or pastel, think emerald, amethyst, sapphire, or gold. Not only are these dresses super fun to wear, they'll also make you stand out from the rest of the rushees.
This two-toned silk-finish mini dress from Lipsy is absolutely gorgeous. It's sexy, chic, and not overly revealing. Play on the pastel color palette by pairing the dress with nude-pink pumps and amethyst feather earrings for the ephemeral feel of an angel. Make a bold statement with a dark feather-studded clutch and sky-blue nail polish.