I am not in a fraternity, and I should say that up front. I have a hard time taking instructions from peers, and from what I have heard from my research, you have to tolerate a lot of unqualified individuals designating you menial tasks.

According to a Phi Kappa Tau member who preferred to remain anonymous, any assigned rush tasks are menial by requirement. He claimed he had the power to get a dozen freshmen to arrange and perform a cover of any song I requested. I asked why not use that power to make something useful — a bench, or something similarly patriotic  and he said that counts as mandatory labor. Relieved as I was to hear about that hard line in the Mississippi sand, I wondered if mandatory showmanship was better. Asking only that pledges wow us? That they make themselves stars? I would crack under that pressure.

As I understand it, part of these requirements also entails wearing a suit and tie as a rushie. This includes formals, semi-formals, formal chapter and any ceremonial meetings that do not involve a robe. (Fraternities and sororities want to believe that their induction robes are secret, but robes are everyone’s first guess when they hear "private induction ceremony.") One fraternity was even known for making rushies wear a suit and tie to class once a week.

I am not here to mock your Old Row T-shirts or your short shorts. I am not here to talk about your boot cut jeans or dad hats. That is not my business. 

I am here to talk suits. I am here to say that, given the amount of suits you are required to wear, it is a shame to waste the opportunities on suits your dad owns.

Grant Norman, secretary of Lambda Chi Alpha, says members are only required to wear "suits, or, at least, a blazer" to what he dubbed "formal chapters." 

"This is mainly because we take a formal picture with the newly-elected officers at the end of the night," Norman said. 

I am sure there is a desire to keep that tradition when looking at rows of black and white photos of men in identical suits and diagonally-striped ties. That is fair, perhaps even noble. I would submit, though, a harsh truth: this is the hottest we are going to look, probably. From here, we just have to hope we age well. This is the photo that every generation of fraternity member after you looks at when they are also at their most attractive.

I am not asking you wear something stupid just to stand out. I am not suggesting a bright plaid blazer. I am just pointing out that suits, as far as standard clothing goes, should make you feel powerful. They are robes of ceremony. You should feel taller. 

Do you feel powerful wearing Tate Reeves Drip? How many people that you think are hot think Harry Styles is hot? Harry Styles does not dress like a spectator at a rowing event. 

You are already in Dillards: try out the double breast, just for fun. Investigate the flowing pant. 

I am not in a fraternity, but I wore suits often during the fall semester of my freshman year. I was just going through a phase, but as I learned about ethnocentrism in my Intro to Anthropology course, I realized I was one of five people in a blazer.  The other four suits in that anthropology class were a part of Beta Upsilon Chi  or BYX, as they are known on the streets — and were required to wear suits every Monday.

The Interfraternity Council banned the practice this year for concerns of heat exposure. According to BYX president, Jake Purkey, "the purpose of formal dress (was) to teach our new members how to present themselves professionally, as well providing a unique way for them to identify with each other and our chapter by the way that they dress." 

I remember the feeling well. People asked me if I was rushing, and I told them, no, I was just trying to get attention, but I appreciated being part of a theme. There was something powerful about a seeing a professor walk into class in a V-neck and watching four 18-year-olds dressed like lawyers straighten their ties, unbutton their jackets and sit down to work.

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