Written & Styled by Tracy James
Photos by Rebecca Wise
Photographed at Milla Boutique & Around Mountain Brook Village
Models: Catherine Haas, Mallie Reed, Ellison Wilson
I love wardrobe styling with clientele of all ages (my oldest is 96 and lives in a retirement community), but helping younger individuals is especially rewarding. Unlike my adult clients, who have already been subjected to years of peer pressure and societal expectations, I have the chance to ward off negative self-talk at the pass for younger clients, hopefully redirecting thinking toward positive esteem.
Perhaps one of the most important steps in the path to adulthood is the transition from high school to college, when teens leave the nest in their first attempt at spreading their wings of independence. Embarking on this new chapter is daunting in its own right, both for student and parent. Add onto that a foray into the Greek system, and stress can mount. My ability— bolstered by an only-child bossiness (ahem, determination) and detail-oriented organization—to take that worry off an already full plate is an honor and pleasure.
The dress code for sorority recruitment gets progressively dressier with each round, and the schedule lends itself to such, since girls visit fewer sorority houses each day. While there are slight differences from school to school, on the pages that follow, you will find a framework for the week that most schools follow, Auburn and Alabama in particular.
Round 1: Ice Water Teas/ House Tours
Over the course of (usually) two days, the potential new members will visit every house on campus. It is August. It is the South. So it is HOT. Therefore, cool clothing, like lightweight sundresses and comfortable shoes like flat sandals, is the wise choice. Consider wearing long hair in a polished pony to get it off the neck.
Pro Tip: It is primarily on these days that my Emergency Kit item suggestions below are going to come in handy.
On Ellison (far left): Lovestitch striped sundress, leather earring & cuff (Milla)
On Mallie: Sugar Lips off-shoulder shirt dress & Ashley Woods tortoise flower earring (Milla)
On Catherine (far right): Drew striped drop-waist linen sundress (Village Sportswear); Grey fringe earring (Duke’s)
Emergency Kit Bag
Pack these items in a Recruitment Emergency Kit bag like this Street Level canvas tote from Annabelle’s:
- Travel-size umbrella
- Portable fan
- First Aid Kit (Band-Aids, Advil, Tums, etc.)
- Face oil blotting papers
- Refreshing body wipes and/or hand sanitizer
- Emory board
- Breath spray or mints
- Makeup bag (essentials for touch ups)
- Brush or comb
- Flip flops
- Small notebook & pen
Round 2: Philanthropy Days
On these two days, Panhellenic provides T-shirts to all participants to wear with shorts (read: not cutoffs). While I would love to report that they are always a cute fit with a fetching design, that is not the case, so play up your style with fun shorts like these on this page, as well as accessories and sandals.
Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to style your tee to make it your own. For example, knot at the waist in front or in back, and/or roll the sleeves.
Clockwise from orange pair at top: Tessora orange (Duke’s); Rag Poets chambray with racing stripe (Elle); Koch yellow (Duke’s); Rag Poets seersucker and Pam & Gela reptile print (Elle); TCEC hot pink (Annabelle’s); Drew striped (Village Sportswear); Koch multi-dot (Duke’s)
Round 3: Sisterhood
As the number of sororities whittles down, the dressiness level increases. Think church dress, but with flair instead of stuffiness. Girls often opt for a heel or wedge in this round. Many ask, “What if someone else has on my same dress?” It’s bound to happen once in a while, which is why—just like in the celebrity “Who Wore It Best?” features—accessorizing is key and a way to make it your own.
Pro Tip: Always make sure you have the proper undergarments for each outfit, whether a racerback bra or nude seamless panty.
On Ellison (far left): Amanda Upchard eyelet shift & white statement earring (Stella Blu)
On Mallie: Susanna Monaco hot pink dress & Ashley Woods earring (Milla)
On Catherine (far right): Amanda Upchard striped sundress (Stella Blu); Black statement earring (Milla)
Round 4: Preference
Often referred to as “serious night,” participants attend events at only two to three sorority houses, allowing for more intimate conversation. Perhaps the trickiest of the week’s ensembles, Pref is dressier than church but not quite cocktail. Some schools still have the tradition of wearing black. Either way, think party dress.
Pro Tip: Two words: waterproof mascara.
On Mallie: Ramy Brook color block swing dress, silver statement earring & cuff bracelet with geode (Elle)
On Ellison (left): ALC black knit dress (M. Lavender); Black leather & gold earring (Annabelle’s); Gold bracelet trio (Elle)
On Catherine (right): Lavender Brown red strapless dress & gold jewelry (Elle)
Time to celebrate! Casual shorts and a sleeveless top are de rigueur, as girls will receive a special jersey to put on over their clothes.
Pro Tip: Bring along that white graduation dress, as it will often be needed for bid night ceremonies or initiation.
On Ellison: AMO ivory cutoffs & 360 Cashmere tank (M. Lavender); Cassie Lynn earring (Annabelle’s); Calf hair cuff (K3 Jewels)
Wardrobe stylist Tracy James of ChicMadeSimple has served the style needs of clients for over 18 years. She has a particular passion for working with kids, tweens and teens, including preparing girls for college sorority recruitment. Learn more about Tracy at chicmadesimple.com. Follow her on Instagram and/or Facebook at ChicMadeSimple for style tips, tricks and recommendations.