Appearances. Appearances. Appearances.

‘No Frumpy’: Cornell’s Pi Phi Forbids American Apparel Leggings, ‘Gross, Plastic Shizzz’

by Britt Aboutaleb

This morning, I was forwarded six pages worth of dress code requirements for Pi Phi’s Cornell chapter.

Because it’s Friday, and they’re outrageous, I’m sharing.

What does one wear to rush? If we had a sorority our rule would be there are no rules – we’d welcome vintage flannel and Dior couture heels in equal measure, but Pi Phi’s rush chair’s a bit more specific. Her strictest rules, below. (UPDATE: We’ve attached the whole thing at the end, by popular demand.)

On Clothes

— Denim leggings are appropriate as long as it’s done right: aka, not from American Apparel and worn with chic, cool, chunky boots over them and a longer top.

— No satin dresses. No one looks good in satin dresses unless it’s from Betsey Johnson or Dolce & Gabbana, you weigh less than 130 pounds, have three pairs of Spanx on and it’s New Years Eve.

— No Frumpy.

On Shoes

— Yes to nice flats: Tory Burch, etc. More evening-ish, understated, patent leather good. I’m thinking mid-height Mary Jane heels, or mid-height chunky Kate Spade.

— Booties ok if you can pull them off, aka probably not.

On Jewelry

— I expect everyone to be wearing accessories. This is an important part of every outfit and can make or break any ensemble.

— Bangles need to coordinate. I’m not saying you have to wear a Harry Winston wreath, but I am saying I won’t tolerate any gross plastic shizzzz. I love things on wrists and I demand earrings if your ears are pierced.

Pink Martinis says ~

I can understand putting one’s best foot forward but I also strongly believe being true to one’s self will put you where you will feel most at home.

Going through rush can be a brutal process for many girls and it was for me at one point. It is extremely judgmental, can shake your confidence to the core and make you think and rethink everything you said, wore and coiffed. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat because of what my sorority gave me in return, but I also remember the feelings of inadequacy I felt concerning my wardrobe during rush. I was not prepared for the extreme fashion shows I encountered and although I had already been on campus for a year I was completely naive about what to expect.

I had a successful rush at this one particular house that was one of my favorites, which shall remain nameless. I was even someone’s ‘rush baby’ (rush baby – where a member of the house takes you under their wing, introduces you to others, always finds you when you return for subsequent parties). I was nearing the end of rush week when I was at what was to be my last visit to this particular house. I was asked about the dress I was wearing. I was so proud of the fact I had sewed this darling blue and white sundress over the summer and told them I had made it. It was met with blank stares with the up and down look (you know the one), with no comment. I knew immediately, at this moment, my fate was sealed with this house and I was going to be dropped.

The next morning confirmed I read the situation correctly. I was rejected outright for what I felt was blatant snobbery but I was also confused how this decision could have been made by not embracing my creativeness and individuality. It was painful and came as a hard blow. So painful in fact that it didn’t allow me to enjoy my own bid experience at the end of rush.

Of course, there is no ‘perfect’ house. When participating in a large group there are going to be people you like and those you don’t. Sometimes there might be someone who just doesn’t like a summery darling blue and white sundress. I’m thankful I found a home where they did.

“Vogue” ~ Madonna


SHARE THIS POST:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail to someoneGoogle+


  1. Great post!
    I look at some of the younger tweeners in the neighborhood and just shake my head, how sad they are. Mean girls still exist. Guess I just don’t understand how at a grown up age and time they are still CLUELESS -ugh.

  2. Arg. You have reminded me again why, although youth is fun and college life in particular was great, all in all I’d rather have a few laugh lines and be a grown-up.

  3. Good grief. Girls truly can be mean.

  4. One Word: Brutal.
    I guess they would’ve cut Coco Chanel then . . . 😉

  5. It makes me glad, I think, that 45 years ago, instead of college, I went to Charity Hospital School of Nursing in New Orleans. There was no such thing as “rush.” We immediately started in, as young student nurses, all living in the same dorm, wearing the same gross looking uniforms and ugly “Clinic” shoes, taking an overload of science classes and caring for the indigent poor. We had two hours of monitored study hall a night Mon – Thu, had to be in at 8P on those nights, by MN Fri and Sat and 10P Sun, our entire first year of nursing school. In spite of it all, we survived, bonded with each other, and got the best nursing education imagineable. There were no sororities other than the honor sorority our second and third year in school.

  6. Thank you for your honest comment regarding sororities…unfortunately, that is the impression I got during rush, too. (Which I only did since my mother was in a house in her day.) I hated every minute of it, did not receive an invitation, and can honestly say it didn’t matter. But to be judged at every party? Horrendous.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ugh. After the horrors of junior and high school, why put yourself through another set of girls who are so insecure they have to be mean?

    My Ivy League school banned sororities in the early 1900s. There were plenty of mean girls still around, but at least they only inflicted themselves on the few women in their dorm.

    And why would you want to be friends with women who chose you to be nasty with the next crop of recruits?