The Glamorous Life Of Sorority Girls

A month or so ago, I started to write a post on sorority glamour. At first, it seemed easy enough, especially since I spent several years donning “pin attire” (something dressierSorority_Row_One-Sheet than a sweatshirt and jeans) for Monday night meetings and shopping for formal dresses that could stand up to beer stains. Sororities aren’t just about the clothes (and the parties those clothes are for) but some of the glamour to be found in those institutions is definitely related to dressing up. In that respect, sororities bridge the gap between the high school prom and the board rooms and charity galas that loom after graduation.

But glamour is more than just trappings – otherwise there’d be no blog called Deep Glamour. In an effort to figure out what lies beneath the formal dresses and little gold sorority pins, I dug out a few books on the subject to see what they had to say. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a whole lot. In Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities, a very honest look at life as a member of a sorority at a big southern school, author and undercover sorority girl Alexandra Robbins used the words “glamour” and “glamorous” exactly zero times each. Same goes for Inside Greek U. by Alan D. DeSantis.

Then I moved on to Google and Flickr, searching for “sorority and glamour,” and similar variations on that theme. Most of what I found was designed either to mock ditzy sorority girls or to capitalize on their image as, shall we say, morally casual. Or, as in the case of the movie Sorority Row, which opens tomorrow, to do both, while a serial killer chases the girls around campus. But no serious discussion could be found.

So finally, I went straight to the source, asking the opinions of a bunch of women I know who were in sororities during college. Finally, I got some real answers about the role of glamour in Greek life.

According to my friends – and my own experiences back this up – it’s all about the mystery. There’s something fascinating and exciting about a group that’s got secrets and rituals at its core, and a hundred-plus years of history to back them up. On top of that, the exclusivity factor, though it draws ire from the anti-Greek crowd, keeps the organization’s secrets just that – secret.

Secret rituals and codes built on long-standing, somewhat mysterious traditions - these are the things that sell us on books like The Da Vinci Code (well, these and danger), and they’re also what drive thousands of college kids to sign up for rush every year.

All that said, we can’t forget the clothes. Formal dresses and pin attire might be simply the superficial manifestation of sorority life, but when we start learning about glamour and deciding what it means to us, personally, we have to start someplace – and usually, we start with the outifts. Once we're dressed, then we can worry about secrets and codes.

["Sorority Row" poster from Summit Entertainment. I wish I had a picture of my own sorority house, but all of my pictures of the house also include a bunch of squealing girls - squealing girls who are now doctors and lawyers and scientists, and who definitely don't want their college pictures posted all over the internet.]