Pi Phi Fo Fum

It is a little known fact, even among my close friends, that I was once a member of a sorority. In 1991, Delta Psi Delta was pretty new. They had big dreams of someday being absorbed by the national “Tri Delts” (immortalized on SNL with the phrase, “Delta Delta Delta, can I help ya help ya help ya?”) but, like a small magazine looking for a grant, they still had to prove themselves worthy. That year I was just cresting my Androgynous Grunge Angst period and hardly a candidate for sorority life, but I suspect they were sort of desperate for rushes (applicants). Every girl that showed up at our first meeting had been personally invited. I had reservations, but I figured my chances of ever again experiencing this particular slice of life were slim; I thought what the hell? When I walked in wearing a plaid flannel shirt and army boots, no one batted an eye.

Over the next eight months I attended charity events and made friends with our “Greek brothers” in the Acadia fraternity – boys who, when I ran out of money at the holidays, personally set up a driver relay to get me home for free. I decided popular depictions of sororities as petty, fascist dictatorships were overly harsh.

Here is a six page list, forwarded by the president of the Pi Phi sorority at Cornell to all new rushes outlining what dress will be considered acceptable for sorority events. (No “plastic shizzz” please.)

I think I stand corrected.

- g.

Editor’s Note: as pointed out to us in the comments, the validity of this list actually existing is questionable. We shared it not with the intent of mocking any sororities or the women in them, but to point out the ridiculousness of enforced style rules in general. We apologize for any errors that might have occurred.

20 thoughts on “Pi Phi Fo Fum

  1. !!!!!!

    Gwen, where did you get this? This is exhaustingly psychotic! I sense tinglings of ideas for academic papers coming on….


    no joke, joining a sorority was on my list that I wrote when I was 12 of things to do before I die, right under “intern at a cool fashion magazine,” so….I guess that’s next.

    but “NO: fuck me pumps” omg ahahaa

  3. You did not say anything how to sit in a chair, how to sit at the dinning table or how to alight from a vehicle or whether studying was part of the appearance. Maureen

  4. Tee hee this is hilarious and ridiculous, thanks for sharing, I’m gonna link to this!
    Woof, you’d think the girl who wrote this could proof the paper before she sends it out. I want to know what she looks like ;]

  5. My favourite is, “We aren’t 5 unless I say its beautiful”.

    The grammar went out the window with the fuck me pumps I guess…

  6. I’m proud to be wearing about 70% of her NOs at any given moment. Even when I’m sleeping I’m all about plastic rings, more than two necklaces and sleevelessness in general.

  7. thank you thank you for posting the whole thing! i kept reading and didn’t know whether to laugh or vomit. And yes, i’m proud to also be wearing plenty of “no”s no plastic or “obvious” make up? hhmmm?

  8. I have to say, my favourite bits are this:

    The arbitrary ratings, as in “Skirts: Pencil or Nicer.” What on earth does that even mean? What’s “nicer” than a pencil skirt? Where can I find the official rankings? What constitutes “weird” bronzer, which piercings are “obnoxious”, and how big does a hoop have to be to be “tooooo” big?

    The Cosmo Makeup Descriptors, as in “Lipstick – as long as it’s pretty and young and soft.” What the hell is “young” lipstick, exactly? *puts away ugly, old, hard lipstick* And the endless repetition of “statement”… Statement earrings, statement necklaces. Maybe it’s the editor in me, but that’s cheap fashion jargon.

    The fact that she felt she needed to specify NO MOOD RINGS. Are those big at Cornell? Is there a mood ring resurgence I wasn’t informed about?

    But I’ll admit – I’m with her on not going bare-legged in winter, and the whole satin rant? I was in stitches. I couldn’t agree more – satin is VERY unforgiving. Unforgivably so. Ha.


  9. This is possibly the best thing ever.
    Though they probably could of simplified it with:

    On Wednesday we wear pink
    You can’t wear a tank top two days in a row,
    And you can only wear your hair in a ponytail once a week.
    Oh, and we only wear jeans or track pants on Fridays.
    Now, if you break any of these rules,you can’t sit with us at lunch.

  10. Sorry ladies, but I don’t think there’s even a place to get your brows waxed in Ithaca. My old bf went to Cornell and I remember his prof telling me that there was a big problem with sororities and fraternities at the university. Small towns, small minds?

  11. This is amazing! What I like about it the most (and also horrified by) is that this is clearly reflections of her own tyrannical taste. Half of her weird, arbitrary rules don’t even make sense for the occasions she’s talking about. If someone has fantastic personal style that is made of items in her ‘no’ columns they could still come up with appropriate outfits for say a business lunch for example, or an evening of cocktails.

    I’ve never been in a sorority myself, but am familiar with the greek system thanks to my brother whose in a fraternity. He also has dress codes he has to abide by, but nothing like this. Those codes, and other codes about behavior and manners, are supposed to teach these young and immature students how to act appropriately for certain situations… i.e. don’t wear ripped jeans to a business meeting. So what horrifies me about this is this person’s personal conservative taste is being thwarted upon impressionable young freshman. I guess this is clearly a case of the stereotypical steppford type sorority . An army of cashmere cardigan, pearl wearing, khaki laden young women await the town of Ithaca.

  12. I know it’s been a while but I just came across this post and it disappointed me.

    I love fashion, and I love Worn. I go to Cornell and am in a sorority, and have friends in Pi Phi, and I think the whole thing has been quite sad.
    I am disappointed because I never expected Worn to participate in the spreading of such a stupid viral rumor, that began with a posting on a college gossip blog. Although I suppose it is understandable that it is the nature of a blog to comment of current popular stories.

    These documents have been virally posted around the internet after being posted on a college gossip blog. Apparently, a member of Cornell Pi Phi was shown these documents by a friend and thought they were quite ridiculous (obviously) and remarkably funny in how untrue they were for her sorority. It is well known that sororities regulate what members wear during rush because they want to look presentable and approachable, but this was clearly taking it to a hilarious extreme. The girl decided to email it to the sorority list serve for some laughs, knowing that the rest of the girls who she lived with would understand how bizarre the “style guide” was. Indeed, everyone got the joke, and someone decided it was so funny she had to show it to her friend at another school.

    Therin lies the problem. When she forwarded it to the friend across the country, she added something like “how ridiculous is this!?” meaning it as a joke. However, when the friend fowarded it to a friend to a friend and so on, the reasoning behind the email was lost. By the 10th email removed, the person reading no longer had any idea that it was a joke, and all that was visible to him/her was that the original email had been fowarded to the Cornell Pi Phi listserve. Once a gossip blog got a hold of the email, the obvious (and incorrect) assumptions were made, and the images along with a post claiming that Cornell Pi Phi had created the “style guide.”

    On this first post, if one looked for it, numerous comments were made about how the email was a misconstrued joke, but once the images had been virally reposted all over the internet, it was a lost cause. Yet note that absolutely nowhere in any of the posted images anywhere on the internet does the alleged “style guide” include any mention of Pi Phi or Cornell.

    I don’t know about sororities at other schools, but at Cornell most of them are very laid back and simply used by many girls as a way to socialize and meet people on a smaller scale at such a large university. There are a couple that are known as more elitist and snobby (for Cornell), but the most ironic aspect of this whole thing is that Pi Phi is known to be one of the most down to earth and nice sororities on campus. They tend to stay under the radar and aren’t interested in rankings or popularity, the girls are usually sweet, involved, and often athletes. It’s unfortunate that they had to deal with all this negative publicity, but if you talk to nearly anyone at Cornell who is in greek life or knows people in greek life, I can almost guarantee that they would say that the alleged “style guide” sounded weirdly out of character.

  13. My previous post was long and detailed, but the short version is:

    I go to Cornell, and from what I know this “style guide” was not created by anyone in Pi Phi at Cornell. It was apparently sent on the sorority’s list serve as a joke, and forwarded by one of the girls to a friend at a different university, and soon became a chain email of which the original intentions were misconstrued. A college gossip blog got a hold of it and seeing the original email to the Cornell Pi Phi listserve made the incorrect assumption that members of that sorority had created it. Once posted on the internet it was virally reposted and unable to control. Note that none of the images posted have any mention of Cornell or Pi Phi in the writing.
    It’s unfortunate that so many assumptions and stereotypes have been formed or reassured because of this rumor.

    For my full views on the situation, read the post above this.

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