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Fashion, with friends
What you're wearing during sorority recruitment says a lot about your personality
The dress on the right, modeled by Lindsey Brown, is far too formal to wear during most events at formal recruitment. Just because it's called "formal" doesn't mean your dress should be. The dress on the left, modeled by Paige Craven, shows a hint of bra strap. Bra straps - or any showing of undergarments, for that matter - are tacky! Try covering up with a cardigan, or change the dress altogether. - photo by Tom Reed

On the steps of the red-brick and white-columned Phi Mu house, about 15 girls in their dresses and heels are anxiously waiting in the early evening.

These young women - or, for the next four days, potential new members - have spent most of the afternoon primping, styling and perfecting their hair, makeup and outfits.

First impressions are always the most important, especially for the first day of formal recruitment, a time for sorority sisters at Brenau University to meet new girls eager to join their ranks. Formal recruitment began Sept. 16, and for four days, underclassmen went to open houses, meet-and-greets and other sorority-centered events.

And all the while, they kept in mind that what you wear says a lot about you.

As Blaire Hillman took the steps at Phi Mu, she was already reeling from a hectic day.

She just had head shots taken, a necessity for a theater major, and rushed to her dorm to get dressed.

And then it happened.

"I came out in one outfit and then the girl ... one of the girls on my hall was wearing essentially the same thing," Hillman said. "I don't want to wear anything boring, so I said ‘Oh yeah, I've got this guy.'"

Luckily, Hillman had done laundry the night before - a feat for most college students - and had a strikingly sophisticated outfit ready to go.

She chose an almost moss-colored, sleeveless crocheted shirt and black slacks for the Open House event, the first part of recruitment.

"For Open House you really want it to be business attire," said Elaine Childs, a Rho Gamma who spoke to the potential new members during a mandatory recruitment meeting Sept. 16. "You want to be covered up but you want to show personality. Wear something that you are comfortable in because you're going to be sitting down, talking to these girls, walking a lot.

"So if you can't walk in heels ... don't wear them."

Rho Gammas are sorority members who temporarily disassociate themselves from their sororities during the recruitment period, serving as mentors and counselors to the potential new members.

Childs showed the sorority hopefuls some fashion dos and don'ts during the meeting. Obvious don'ts included showing undergarments like bra straps and wearing clothing that was too tight. They also got a lesson in what would be over- or under-dressed for certain events.

The meeting, although informative, confused some of the girls even more.

Sophomore Danielle Nelson described getting ready for Open House as difficult, at the very least.

"It was hell," she said. "We didn't want to look too dressed up or too casual; it was hard to find that balance. I didn't bring that many things. I wasn't planning on doing this; when I was packing I didn't pack anything for this kind of event.

"This is a makeshift skirt that is actually a dress."

Friend and fellow sophomore Monique Purnell said preparing for the first night was "more like just pulling clothes out of your closet and throw it on and go with it."

The next night of recruitment was Philanthropy Night and was much more laid back.

"T-shirt, blue jeans, khakis, whatever you can sit on the floor in," Childs said. "It's a casual night, flip-flops OK for this only."

Anna Sowell, co-president of the Greek Council, said all the potential new members will be wearing a "Go Greek" T-shirt to make the night a little easier.

"We don't want them not to participate because they are scared they are going to get glue on their shirt," she said. "So they could spice up the bottoms. If you are into bright colors, wear bright colors."

She added that letting personalities make statements is the most important.

"Our (recruitment) is about personalities and that's what we want the girls to see," said Sowell, a Tifton native. "Don't wear something you are not comfortable in ... these are long nights. It starts at 6 p.m. and you get done around 10 or 11 p.m."

A more casual dress was acceptable on the third night, called Sisterhood.

"You can wear flats. You are going to be walking so much and you are going to be standing," Childs said. "Think about what's comfortable and what's fun for you. A nice sundress, cardigan - wear something that you like."

Sowell added that at other universities, some very expensive and trendy outfits may be required. But at Brenau, it's different.

"It's a lot more laid back. The girls on the other side are more laid back and we're not as dressy," she said. "Sisterhood night is a little more casual, a little more laid back. I wore dressy jeans when I went through, or you could do a sundress. Then (Preference Ceremony night) is a dress ... very dressy event and Saturday night (Bid Day) just wear jeans."

Preference Ceremony is the dressiest of the events.

"You want to wear something that is cocktail attire ... a little black dress," Childs said during the fashion event, showing girls in the audience a selection of knee-length frocks. "They aren't all short black dresses, but they are that same concept. They are that iconic ‘it looks good on you' - that's what we want. Think of something dressy that you would want to wear in a cocktail setting."

Hillman took the little black dress idea and interpreted it as a green Luella cocktail dress.

"My mom bought the dress for me a while back and I never had an event to wear it to, really," she said. "I decided that with my new reddish hair it would really make me stand out. It is a strapless dress with ribbing on the inside, a ruched bodice and the skirt is triple layered so it poufs out."