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A Deep Dive Into #RushTok Fashion
"RushTok style is *trending* but not fully *trendy* once you look a little closer"
Back when I was deep in #Rushtok, a different sort of video made its way into my FYP. It was from a professor who studied #Rushtok for her dissertation — and who, for fun, made her own version of a Bama Rush dress (and filmed herself wearing it. After I emailed her (how could I not) I realized our paths had crossed before back when I lived in New York and she was teaching at The New School. We shared an abiding interest in engaged celebrity analysis and Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy style.
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This scholar’s name is Maureen Lehto Brewster, and as you’ll soon see, we went DEEP into Rush fashion, how it’s shaped by (and resistant to) the pressures of the TikTok algorithm, and the specific connotations of each part of the “uniform.” It’s long, but oh, it’s good.
(If you want to read more about the basics of Bama Rush Tok, here’s my primer from earlier this year — but you can also read this cold and understand 92% of it).
Maureen Lehto Brewster is an Assistant Professor of Fashion Merchandising and Design at the University of Marlyand Eastern Shore. She can find her Linktree (with links to her research and social accounts) here.
Okay let’s start very basic: Why Rushtok? What made it a particularly suitable text for the dissertation that you wanted to write — and (I find this fascinating) how do you position yourself on TikTok so as to write about it/find subjects/receive content?
I have to credit my co-major professor, Dr. Laura McAndrews, for getting me into RushTok. To quote Stefon, this topic has everything: influencers, fashion, niche drama, algorithms, Southern drawls, institutionalized racism, I could go on and on. I’m fascinated by the process by which everyday users on RushTok suddenly become influential based on their hyper-specific social media and fashion activity: it’s like a fast-forward version of the typical social media influencer pipeline, and I wanted to see how it worked. Finally, much like Marie Kondo, I love mess — so RushTok really was a perfect fit.
I was particularly interested in talking to people who made RushTok content… not just OOTDs but all the extended RushTok Cinematic Universe stuff: commentary, parody, history, and so on. However, my ultimate dream was to interview some PNMs (“Potential New Members”) and perhaps follow them throughout the process of making this content, because they’re at the center of this whole enterprise. I emailed sororities on campus and posted flyers in residence halls and across campus buildings, but I also decided to recruit participants on TikTok figuring that it was a direct, easy way to find my target population.
It was not direct or easy, for a few reasons. One: TikTok requires you to mutually follow another person before you can message them, and none of these folks were following back. I spammed every big name PNM and RushTok content creator from that season but got absolutely nothing in return. I would comment on their videos with a short overview of the project and direct them to my profile, usually with a couple emojis to make it less formal and more genuine. Somewhere around the first few comment spam sessions I realized that it might look really sketchy to not have an active profile when I was doing this, so I decided to post a few videos just so people knew I was a legit researcher and not some troll or scammer.
This gets to complication two: 2022 was the height of HBO documentary drama, so most RushTok girlies were on total lockdown. I figured that posting some content might help my recruitment of PNMs and actives by establishing that I was not affiliated with the doc. I added a Linktree to my profile to send people to a recruitment site, and posted my flyers in my Stories.
I deliberately avoided posting any commentary about RushTok while I was recruiting; I knew that my eventual participants would likely see this content, and I didn’t want to influence their responses in any way prior to their interview. At this point, I had also decided to produce my own videos as a sort of artful method of inquiry to think with different types of RushTok content. I made a “what’s in my rush bag” video and an OOTD, both centered around my recruitment efforts on campus. Neither performed very well by TikTok standards (my first OOTD still has only 218 views!), but even though I secretly dreamed of viral fame, the real goal of those videos was to demonstrate to potential participants that I’m a real, non-HBO affiliated person who knows (and enjoys!) the content.
That last bit was important to me: RushTok and Greek Life rightly attract a lot of criticism online, and while I knew that my dissertation would critique these systems, I understand and respect why people might want to join sororities and make or watch this content. I didn’t want them to think that this was some shady, scary takedown of what they love. I’m perhaps more sensitive to that because as a fashion and celebrity studies scholar I’ve had plenty of people ridicule my interests and work with varying degrees of subtlety, sometimes to my face. I wanted participants to feel comfortable taking joy in these spaces, because many people do.
When I first started watching #Rushtok videos, I think I was most transfixed by the style, blocking, and narration of the videos of themselves. But I imagine you were immediately thinking about the dresses, the skorts, the tanks, the jewelry. What were your initial impressions?
I mean, RushTok fashion is very… distinctive, lol. It’s flashy and campy but once you look beneath the surface, it’s full of really interesting contradictions: swerving between overly formal and studiously casual, womanly yet girlish, contemporary but classic, distinctive but still homogeneous. This is beginning to sound like I’m giving the America Ferreira speech from Barbie lol, but it really is emblematic of some of the tensions of modern femininity.
My first thought was that it looked really anachronistic: all these 70s-80s styles (full sleeves, prairie dresses) but also very contemporary athleisure separates. RushTok style is trending but not fully trendy once you look a little closer: it’s a little stuffier, frillier, and brighter than what you’re going to see anywhere else on campus, or really anywhere else online. It’s everywhere and nowhere all at once. I started to theorize that this clothing reflects sorority norms more than contemporary fashion trends. For example, several of my participants noted that RushTok/recruitment fashion is not really on-trend, even though it does shift subtly with each cycle.
There’s a funny RushTok meme where sorority alumna post content from their active days, which is usually to laugh at how lo-fi their clothing and recruitment procedures were before they became a TikTok phenomenon. Though the clothing definitely reflects ‘00s trends, there’s a lot of through lines to what is being worn today, particularly the bright color palette, love of patterns and florals, feminine silhouettes, and rigorous personal grooming.
That’s because these outfits’ primary purpose is to successfully complete recruitment: to get a bid. To do that, PNMs are trying to match the visual standards of the sorority system. These are emphasized in the campus Panhellenic recruitment guide, which offers suggestions of what PNMs should wear on each day. These suggestions are heavily dependent upon a static image of respectable, upper-class, White cisfemininity. I didn’t do an exhaustive review of these recruitment guides, but I found that most of the big SEC schools (namely Bama, UGA, and Ole Miss) indicated PNMs should dress more conservatively in more traditionally “feminine” styles, while schools in other regions are much more relaxed.
Previous Bama guides instructed PNMs to dress like they were going to church or to a wedding, which are not only formal but typically also very heteronormative contexts. Sorority coaches and alumna also post a lot about fashion recommendations, many of which urge PNMs to dress modestly: I literally laughed out loud at a TikTok from a young sorority alumna that suggested PNMs follow the three finger rule for the straps of their shirt and dresses. These guides are now more careful to (mostly) not (overtly) require rigid dress codes, but when I attended recruitment events in 2022 I found that most PNMs were following their “suggestions” very closely.
I was also struck by the type of hyper-cisfemininity on display in these videos. Dresses and skirts are most popular on RushTok; most feature defined waists and full skirts, emphasizing a stereotypically feminine silhouette. Girls appear in complete, complementary sets of clothing, jewelry, impeccably styled hair, pristine makeup, and polished nails throughout rush, even in less formal rounds. Yet RushTok fashion is also extremely youthful: not just feminine but girlish. This is visible in the silhouettes (skorts), colors (pastels), and garment details (floral prints and bows). The effect is almost like a costume, or as I describe in my dissertation, a uniform.
The videos that go viral on RushTok have a very uniform aesthetic, and many of my participants felt that sorority culture promotes uniformity in not only fashion but personality and lifestyle. There’s a lot of pressure to appear (in) uniform, because it can help you get a bid, but it requires things that not everyone has: time, money, and a body that can wear the uniform well (typically White, able-bodied, cisgendered). This uniformity can be really disorienting or even infuriating as a viewer, depending on your personal politics (particularly when you’re unfamiliar or unaffiliated with Greek Life), but I think it’s also part of the appeal of RushTok: the bewildering fascination of seeing different versions of the same Sorority Girl over and over and over and over.
Another thing that stood out was the tanning practices in this space. Tanning is really big in sorority culture, especially in the South, so this was not a surprise to me after a few years at UGA… but as most people on RushTok could probably tell you, there is tan and then there is RushTok Tan, which is noticeably deeper in color. Obviously the lighting in the filming location and video quality might be making some of these girls appear darker than they are in real life, but seeing so many girls with this shade of self-tanner was kind of mind-blowing. This also highlights how overwhelmingly White RushTok, and by extension sorority culture, is.
I was also struck by how commercial these are: they are just thoroughly, relentlessly branded. They’re like one (maybe even one-half) step away from sponsored content, which of course made the inevitable transition into influencing much easier for these users. But then I thought, why does this feel more commercialized than previous OOTDs? What are these girls doing differently? And they’re really not diverging too much from the classic OOTD formula, which is to style an outfit and share your list of brands or retailers.
But the OOTD that emerged from the fashion blogosphere of the 2000s did this in a more static way: here’s a full image, then some close-ups so you can see more details, here’s where you can buy it. Instagram’s algorithm prioritized static images, so the OOTD didn’t change too much as it moved to that platform. On TikTok, you can share these in motion, which is much more natural and dynamic. The 2021 videos were filmed all over the place, but by 2023 most girls were filming in their bedrooms, which makes it feel more intimate.
What’s even more important is that unlike most OOTD content, these aren’t outfits for everyday, typical occasions like work or school or even a formal event: they’re for sorority recruitment, which again has very specific dress requirements. What’s intriguing about RushTok fashion is not only the outrageous styles of dress, but the brands and price points of those items… in particular, there’s a sometimes hilarious blend of high fashion and fast fashion. A lot of my friends were shocked at how much Golden Goose sneakers cost ($500!!), and I know people online were confused about the amount of David Yurman in these videos. Some of those pieces might be heirlooms, others are borrowed; one participant suggested that many of the jewelry items are fakes from sites like DH Gate.
When you start to add up some of the influences of RushTok — the South, religion, and historically White Greek Life Organizations, which were basically started as a bunch of secret societies for rich White supremacists — you can see the building blocks for the hegemonic norms that underpin this space, and how they are linked to systemic issues of gender, race, and class.
Your dissertation discusses #Rushtok as a site of becoming and exclusion — becoming a sorority girl, yes, but also becoming an influencer. I think people are sometimes hesitant to ascribe young women posting #OOTDs from their dorm rooms to an audience of a few hundred with the label “influencer,” but those young women are, in essence, “trying out” for the role….which they win through a combination of “getting it right” (and the algorithm picking up on them “getting it right.”) Can you lay out what it means to “get it right” and how the algorithm responds?
At this point, PNMs rushing at any of the big RushTok schools, especially Bama, know that there is a chance to go viral if they post content around this period. As RushTok has grown, the window to participate has widened: in 2023, some PNMs started to go viral when they posted their Rush Bag content in June or July. One of my participants called those videos a “bat signal” for followers and brands, a term that suggests that these girls were signaling their interest in influencer status, or at least the trappings of that status (free stuff, attention).
My participants were also reluctant to call most of the 2022 RushTok “main characters” influencers, aside from maybe Kylan, because she had a broader and more established platform. They felt that most of these girls are influential in online sorority or college communities, but not among a wider population, because their experiences and fashion are so niche. But these are still highly profitable niches, especially on TikTok, which has a very young user base.
Getting RushTok “right” means appearing (in) uniform, as previously discussed: wearing the frills, the bright colors, the Golden Goose sneakers, the Kendra Scott necklace, the acrylic nails, the hair extensions. But getting the RushTok OOTD “right” also relies quite a bit on how well you can replicate tried and true (fashion) influencer modes of self-presentation. This includes direct and intimate communication with followers, which means making lots of eye contact with the screen, using casual and friendly terms of address (i.e. lots of “hey y’all” and “you guys”), replying to and liking viewer comments, and sharing personal stuff–even sometimes crying on camera.
RushTok girls also follow the influencer playbook by establishing their personal taste through the selection and styling of particular brands or products — it shows off their personality but also makes brand partnerships more accessible. They also use specific physical gestures to show off products and styling: think of the foot pop to show their shoes, or wiggling their fingers to display their rings. This is an adaptation of earlier forms of OOTDs, which would show a close-up static image: here we get to see it on the body, making it feel more real and fun.
These strategies work with celebrities and influencers because viewers feel like they are getting real, behind the scenes content that helps them get to know the person they’re watching. These PNMs have presumably grown up watching influencer content, so it’s not surprising that they can perform and scale authenticity like this. My research suggests that RushTok viewers, like most social media users, are aware that this stuff is not “authentic” in the strictest sense, because of the public and increasingly profit (and fame) driven nature of this community.
Thousands of PNMs use these strategies to post content, but only a select few are promoted to “main characters” or gain the sufficient visibility to translate their content into actual sponsorship or branding opportunities. That’s because the TikTok algorithm tends to reward certain types of content above others. Location is one significant factor. PNMs at UA or one of the major SEC schools have a huge advantage because their recruitment occurs earliest.
Location also matters because it can influence dress practices. The traditions and trends of sorority culture, particularly in the South, are fascinating to many people (especially viewers outside the US) because they are so coordinated and exaggerated. The algorithm tends to promote content with more extreme dress practices: the frilliest, brightest, most expensive, most baffling ensembles, worn by the most tan and blonde girls. The intersection of Greek Life (very traditionally cisfeminine, rather conservative styles), Southern dress (also fairly traditional, very colorful), and TikTok (dressing to catch the eye of a large audience) makes for some very exaggerated clothing. Think of the dresses you see from UA or even Baylor girls: they’re probably poofier and more colorful than many other PNMs, so they get tons of reactionary comments, which further boosts their visibility.
The most noticeable exceptions to this rule also get a boost: these are your outliers or underdogs, like Grant, Makayla, and Morgan. Again, this is because these videos get a lot of engagement, from people either completely baffled, enraged, or excited by their content. For example, Grant played to this exaggerated style, but her gender presentation made her stand out from the pack, inspiring tons of TikTok commentary and building a large community of supporters. Makayla also wore the uniform, but because she is biracial she also attracted a lot of attention in her own and extended content.
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Morgan rejected the carefully curated RushTok uniform (both in her dress and posting practices), which garnered her a lot of support online as well. None of these girls got a bid, though. While their posting strategies firmly established them as fan-favorites, each of these girls faced some speculation about their motives or character on RushTok. Were those just excuses to reject them for not appearing (in) uniform? Maybe! Probably? The point is, getting it “right” on RushTok is not necessarily rewarded in Greek Life, which still operates from a framework of exclusion and secrecy.
Put more simply, the TikTok algorithm, like many other social media platforms, rewards content that provokes strong, measurable reactions. RushTok gets major views because it gets a lot of intensely positive and negative reactions, which generate a lot of related content on TikTok and in wider media, thereby further promoting the videos.
Oh, also: big duh: TikTok has admitted to suppressing and even shadowbanning creators from excluded or marginalized groups, particularly Black creators. RushTok also has a pretty noticeable race problem; this is definitely exacerbated by the TikTok algorithm, which disproportionately rewards content from White creators, but is also symptomatic of the racist history of WGLOs (White Greek Life Organizations, i.e. Panhellenic orgs) and schools like UA, which didn’t formally desegregate its sorority system until 2013. UA Panhellenic membership was 84% White as of 2022 (the year that I was collecting data), so of course the majority of RushTok content from that school would be from White PNMs. My study was not designed to collect the kind of systematic, reproducible data to prove algorithmic suppression, but the anecdotal reports of my participants indicate that RushTok prioritizes White creators. More research is definitely needed here.
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Last year I spent a lot of time following the videos of Grant, a trans student who was allowed to Rush, was immediately dropped by nearly all of the houses, and was eventually dropped by all of the houses. Grant is white, Grant performs Southern femininity, Grant knows how to perform wealth in her dress and affect, Grant has the same makeup as all of the other Rushees…..but cannot embody cisfemininity. What do you think Grant’s Rush experience tells us about the rigidness of the system? (To me, it also highlights how brittle the system is, which is something we can also get into!)
I wanted to write much more about Grant in my dissertation because I think her journey says a lot about how Greek Life sanctions certain performances of gender, race, and class.
When we talk about Greek Life, however, it’s important to clarify that we’re really talking about the intersection of multiple systems at various levels: the individual chapter, the national governing council (Panhellenic, IFC, etc.), the university, and the local/state culture and politics. These are often nested within each other, and thereby reflect the values of the overarching institution. But while these systems of power primarily function to control subjects, there are always opportunities for resistance. For example, you might have an individual chapter that is really accepting and diverse within a fairly conservative campus or state.
Relatedly, two of my participants with ties to the University of Alabama noted that Grant was working against not just the campus and Panhellenic systems here but also Alabama’s conservative culture. Grant could have rushed Panhellenic at so many other schools, even in the state of Alabama, and probably gotten in… but UA is still a pretty rigid system.
It’s telling that she was allowed to rush but that she was dropped before the final round: UA Panhellenic may have opened the door for her to participate in recruitment, but the campus chapters shut that door pretty quickly. Given that this is purported to be a matching process (both sides are trying to match with the other), this means that none of the chapters felt that she was a match for them. (Well, none of the Panhellenic chapters… again, UA also has several co-ed chapters that would probably have been happy to have her, but she rushed for Panhellenic, which is a historically white system–with all of the conservative baggage that comes with that status). UA Panhellenic’s policy for recruitment and membership states that all members must “consistently live and self-identify as a woman.” But what does that mean, what does that look like? Who decides what counts as consistent? These rules are openings to students like Grant, but they can also shut really quickly depending on how they are interpreted.
Grant didn’t identify as trans during recruitment; she didn’t even discuss her gender identity until rampant RushTok speculation a few days into recruitment forced her hand. She later came out as trans, but has since walked that back, and now declines to label her gender. So how does one interpret “consistently” or “identifying as a woman” here? She was consistently using she/her pronouns and performing White Southern femininity the whole time, but how was that performance read by these chapters?
I’m sure that they would argue that there were other reasons why Grant was dropped, but it’s hard to take that seriously given the simultaneous rise in transphobic legislation and media. Grant has also stated that she was the subject of transphobic group chats and meetings during recruitment. You can make yourself shiny, try to be friendly to the system and its image, but the system can slam the doors at any time in order to protect and maintain that image. So yes, this is a very brittle system. (Hell, gender is a brittle system!) But Greek Life, at least at UA, is continuously held together by people eager to maintain exclusivity based on rigid, hegemonic ideals of femininity, because they benefit the most from its continuity.
It’s all well and good to have inclusive language and policies but we all know that often doesn’t translate to actual inclusivity. Sara Ahmed describes how terms like inclusivity and diversity are “smiles”: shiny surfaces that reflect a good image while obscuring the issues festering under that surface. You can see this in action in sorority chapter RushTok content, which strategically presents an image of Panhellenic sororities that glosses over the ongoing inequities that facilitate that image.
Reading this through an intersectional feminist lens provides further insight into the fraught nature of “inclusivity” in Greek Life. Elizabeth Boyd calls rush “the proving ground of competitive femininity,” which emphasizes sorority recruitment as a “stratification ritual” to exercise social power over other women. But if you continue to watch RushTok, you will actually see a lot more variations of sorority life: it’s not all cis White girls in high glam dance videos and super-poofy Pref round dresses. There’s plenty of queer folks and people of color, lots of weird costumes and thrifted clothing–even at the big SEC schools. Yes, the algorithm does not always make these as visible as the stereotypical content, but it’s there, because those students are there, widening those cracks in the system, opening more doors.
RushTok is exciting because it really isn’t just about the clothes: it’s a chance for PNMs to share their experiences navigating a traditionally opaque system, meaning we see some of this oppression of this system (racism, homophobia, fatphobia, transphobia, etc. etc.) in real time. This creates opportunities to document oppression and (hopefully) hold these systems accountable, or at least make them squirm. I love that RushTok originated with OOTDs, but almost instantaneously became a platform for critiquing WGLOs and campuses like UA with historically racist recruitment and membership policies. I hope that more creators and PNMs come forward to challenge the system and further fracture it, to create openings for future students.
It’s tempting to dismiss sorority recruitment as a trivial part of the college experience, particularly when it looks like parties and dancing and fashion.* But to a student who is being excluded from this system because of a fundamental part of their identity, it’s not trivial at all: it’s racism, it’s transphobia, it’s fatphobia, it’s classism. Also, these exclusive networks do promise some power to their members: look at the Machine, which exerts considerable influence over UA campus government but also local, state, and even national politics. Greek Life also highlights professional networking opportunities in their recruitment materials as a key membership benefit. It’s not like students can’t find other networks, other places to obtain professional development opportunities, or even other places to party and make friends. But this is a really shiny, fun, and prominent one.
I feel like you are uniquely equipped to answer a question that came up all the time in my DMs: How do these women conceive of the line between high and low, between “prize pieces” (like an expensive piece of jewelry or a pair of Golden Gooses) and pieces of fast fashion, but also between the fetishization of specific brands and the diffuse understanding of “my rings are from Amazon”? Clothing and naming in this way feel incongruous or contradictory to many of us, but absolutely natural to them. What’s going on here?
My favorite was the “normal jewelry” line from the first cycle… which I believe was used to indicate jewelry that they previously introduced and wear regularly. Shorthand like this (including generic catchalls like “my rings are from Amazon”) are therefore a time saving technique: after all, your video should stay under 3 minutes for maximum engagement. It’s also just a convention of RushTok at this point. I also love (to hate) when PNMs just straight-up don’t know the brand or even the retailer where they got a piece from… it seems indicative of how overconsumption changes the value of clothes.
Like any niche or micro fashion culture (I hesitate to call it a subculture because it’s not establishing autonomy from or resisting mainstream/hegemonic culture), RushTok (or even fashion in Panhellenic sororities more broadly) has a recognizable style that reflects your membership and status in this group. This includes not just clothing but your grooming, gestures, and speech. Wearing the “right” clothes and appearing in the “right” way shows your economic AND social capital: it takes money to buy this stuff, but you also need to know what to buy and how to put it together. Put another way, knowing what’s considered “high” or “low” in Greek Life, and how to successfully pair them in each outfit, shows off your taste–which, if you want to get theoretical (and I always do), is not innate but acquired, and influenced by your gender, race, and class, among other intersections (see Bourdieu, etc.).
Historically, you would learn from word of mouth (family and friends who are in Greek Life, or other contacts) for recommendations of what (not) to wear. My research suggests that PNMs are increasingly looking to RushTok and other social platforms (YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest) to learn how to dress the “right” way for recruitment and thereby get into a sorority. That’s part of why the prize pieces are usually the same (Goldens, Kendra Scott, Lulu): these are recognizable RushTok brands, and wearing them is an expression of your social power.
So “high” and “low” are relative terms that are specific to RushTok/Greek Life, which are learned through mediated interactions with these systems. PNMs (on or off RushTok) are there to get a bid, so they want to repeat the winning formula. They might scale it up or down depending on their financial ability and interest in fashion, but risks are not typically rewarded in the Panhellenic recruitment process. From a practical perspective, high/low makes sense because you’re trying to put 8-10 unique looks together, and the vast majority of PNMs don’t have the money to stock their rush wardrobe with prize pieces. So it’s all about maximizing what you have to fit the aesthetic and practical needs of recruitment.
Actives are less interested in purchasing new outfits the further they get into the system, but may have to in order to follow the recruitment theme and standards set by their sorority. Both parties are therefore sourcing each component of their outfit based on a template they’re given, which is itself rooted in the values and symbols of Greek Life. That’s another reason why the prize brands have not changed that much over the first three years of RushTok: those core values and symbols are pretty sedentary.
The “right” brands change slightly each cycle, but there are some standards at this point. Mainstream designer labels like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Dior have recognizable logos that announce their (and thus the wearer’s) luxury status. Some of those pieces might be family heirlooms, which provides a talking point on RushTok or during recruitment. But RushTok really thrives on brands and retailers in the middle to lower price zones: this is everything from Shein and Amazon to Lulu, Hello Molly, or Revolve. It also includes most of the Southern boutiques (like The Pants Store or Fabrik) featured on RushTok. Wearing clothing from those retailers is a subtle way to either prove you’re a local or show that you know how to shop like one (even though most of those carry wholesale brands that are available in other regions). These are, after all, college student: some might be very economically privileged, but even those girls will want to appear relatable and putting together a mix of high/low brands or retailers helps with that.
Several of my participants emphasized that despite all PR to the contrary, many houses (especially the Old Row) are still very explicitly seeking girls who have money. Wearing an all-Gucci outfit is a very easy way to signal to those houses that you have money. But very few RushTok girls are actually doing that, because it’s kind of boring, and if there’s one thing Greek Life will bleat until the end of time, it’s that you should always be yourself. On RushTok, individuality is more highly rewarded: the flashiest stuff is always going to grab viewers and therefore get you more views. But that might not fly as well in IRL recruitment, because chapters are looking for future sisters: people who want to and know what they have to do to belong.
This leads to a really interesting tension, a classic in fashion studies: do you dress to fit in, or to stand out? Sorority rush is difficult because they say that they want you to do the latter, but all of their rules and procedures seek the former. So rush style ends up coming down to, how can you find and walk that line to show some, but not too much, of your personality? How can you be yourself but also become uniform?
I attended several recruitment breakfasts at UGA in 2022, including one for Preference Round, to distribute study recruitment flyers. The Panhellenic Pointer states that “most women choose to wear black dresses” but “this is not a requirement.” Reader, I think I saw two or three girls out of hundreds that weren’t wearing black. Some of those girls wore dresses of different lengths, or with ruffles or bows; a daring few wore jumpsuits. But nearly all of them were in black. The rules of recruitment are designed to maintain social order: namely to distinguish between PNMs, actives, Gamma/Rho Chis, and other personnel, but also to establish the social order within those groups. Wearing black shows that you know and are willing to follow the rules — which is very important in Greek Life. ●
Maureen Lehto Brewster is an Assistant Professor of Fashion Merchandising and Design at the University of Marlyand Eastern Shore. She can find her Linktree (with access to her research and social accounts) here.