I love summer, and I love summer dresses. Going out to lunch? Wear a cute, comfortable dress. Going to visit friends? Wear a cute, comfortable dress. It’s hot here in the south, and anything that helps me stay cool is a great thing for me. I wear a lot of dresses during summer…short dresses, long dresses…I love them all. If you like to feel more free during the hot months, check out these summer dresses in lots of different styles:
Amazon Essentials Short-Sleeve Swing Dress. You can’t get a more basic summer dress than this one. It’s cute, comfortable, and you can dress it up or dress it down. Add a cute denim jacket for a casual look, or add a colorful scarf to dress it up. Priced under $25, you might want it in several colors! Purchase it here.
The Drop Dakota Belted Mini Dress. I love this dress (below). It comes in several different colors, lots of sizes, and the price is right at about $50. Purchase it here.
More from The Drop. In fact, The Drop has lots of dresses I love for summer…with great prices! Some examples are below. To see their offerings click here.
Rails Tara Dress. Rails makes some great lightweight, cute dresses for summer, like this Tara Dress (below). Priced at $198, it’s a little more expensive, but it’s cute and perfect for high temperatures. Purchase here.
French Connection Long Tiered Dress. (See below) This one is colorful and lightweight, but has long sleeves, making it perfect for restaurants, theaters, and other places that can be a little cool when you walk indoors. Priced under $100. Purchase it here.
English Factory Mixed Media Dress. (See below) This one is a personal favorite, because it’s comfortable, but has texture and sleeves that camouflage my upper arms. Priced at just $60, you should get one in every color! It’s offered in seven colors! Purchase here.
Lilly Pulitzer Hollie Tunic Dress. (See below) Lilly Pulitzer knows color, and this tunic dress is great for girls’ lunches, but it can even work in casual office settings. I love that it’s a shorter dress but has 3/4 sleeves. This one is priced a little higher at $178. Purchase it here. And to see other great Lilly Pulitzer summer dresses, click here.
BB Dakota Wild Spirit Dress. Need something a little dressier but still comfy? Priced at under $55, this one is perfect for a summer dinner out or at a summer cocktail party. Made of 100% cotton, it’s breathable. Purchase here.
Trina Turk A-Line Cotton Dress. I love this dress in both colors. It’s a little pricey, but I think this is one I will wear all the time. The bright colors make me happy! Sure, it’s $278, and that’s a lot, but when I think in terms of “price per wear,” knowing I will have this dress for years to come, it doesn’t bother me as much. Purchase here. Or to see more cute Trina Turk styles, click here.
Those are some of my favorite summer dresses, and if you’re wondering what kinds of shoes to wear with summer dresses, I love Sorel sport sandals. See them here. Scroll down the page. They’re comfortable and cute, with rubber soles that offer stability when walking outdoors.
Sorority recruitment (rush) preparation in the south.
Planning to participate in recruitment at a big, southern school? Don’t fret. Yes, recruitment is a big deal at big, southern schools, and it can be intimidating, but there’s a method to the madness. I hear lots of high school seniors and their moms talking about it every year, so I’m going to give a few suggestions. I don’t claim to know everything, but I do know it is likely to go more smoothly if you do your homework and prepare.I am a mom who joined a sorority at a big, southern school in the 80s, and I have a daughter in a sorority at a big, southern school now. I have lots of friends who have daughters in sororities at big, southern schools. That’s my background, so glean what you will from the information below.
I am not a rush consultant or coach.
Every year, I hear about people from different parts of the country who send their daughters to southern schools, and they are surprised at how popular and stressful sorority recruitment is in this part of the country. That’s why I say “do your homework.” If I had been sending my daughter to college in Michigan or California, I would have expected a different rush experience for her, and we would have had to do a lot of homework to see how it goes there. I, likely, would have started doing my homework as soon as she knew where she was going to school, but here is some information that might help if you don’t know how to deal with recruitment in the south. All the information might not apply to every southern college or university, but hopefully, you will find the information helpful.
How to prepare for recruitment in the south? It’s important that moms help. No, don’t do all the legwork, but be there to remind your daughter about deadlines and to edit/proofread the resumé. Preparation can depend on the school, but generally speaking, here are some things you can do:
Update your social resumé. This is a good starting point, because you will need to give a social resumé to women who write recommendations for you (more on that below). There are different apps for creating a social resumé. My daughter used the Canva app. You can look for sample resumés online. Don’t panic if you see ads for “rush packets.” For most alumnae who will be writing recommendations, those packets are not only not necessary, but they’re also not wanted. A resumé plus a headshot will be all you need, in most cases. I haven’t talked to any alumnae or rush chairmen/advisors in the past five years who have wanted packets. For recruitment, make sure your social resumé includes:
your full name,
the name you actually use…example: legal name is Elizabeth, but you go by Betsy
your home address/phone number/email address
your parents’ names/colleges/Greek affiliations
your standardized test scores/GPA/class rank (if your school ranks)
your extracurricular activities/honors/leadership positions
work experience/community service/interests
other family Greek affiliations.
Lots of girls, like my daughter and all her friends, also include a photo on the resumé.
Register for recruitment.Do not miss the deadline. Read all the information. Know the cost of joining and being a member of a sorority. At some schools, it’s a few hundred dollars a year. At some larger schools with big sorority houses, it can be between $7,000 and $10,000 per year. Do your homework! At my daughter’s university, the student and the parents sign a contract saying they understand the cost. It is important to know this…and keep in mind the costs they post don’t include the dresses she’ll need for formals/parties, the t-shirts she will get afterward, pictures, and more! It is unfair to the student and to the chapter to join if you cannot afford it. ***See bottom of page for some southern schools’ recruitment info/guides.***
Follow the Panhellenic Instagram and the Instagram accounts of all the sororities at the college or university you will be attending. This is a way of showing interest in the sororities, and it’s a great way for you to learn more about each chapter. You actually can learn a lot about the feel of a chapter by its posts, just like you can learn something about a person from his/her posts on social media. And that leads me to…
Clean up social media. Southern sororities rely heavily on social media these days to get a bigger picture of the potential new member. If you’re planning to participate, go through the photos/posts on your social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok. If there are risqué outfits or alcohol in your photos, remove those photos. If there are risqué outfits or dances in your Tiktok videos, remove them. You don’t have to look like you don’t have any fun, but you want your social media to be a clean representation of who you are. Sororities want to get a bigger picture of who you are and what you enjoy. *Sororities at some schools like for potential new members to have public Instagram accounts, so they can get to know you better.*
Make and submit video, if required.*Some schools require potential new members to submit a video.* If you are required to submit a video before recruitment, you want your personality to shine through, but you also want it to be the best representation of you. You don’t want to be in a swimsuit or too casually dressed. You want to look your best. This is your first impression moment! There will be guidelines to follow. They often ask for a background that is not distracting, and you need to have good lighting that highlights you and not the area around you. Speak clearly and answer the prompts. My daughter had to pick three prompts from six or eight. I recommend having a loose script or some highlights to cover when making your video…or even a big cue card hanging on the wall. Be memorable…in a good way. And remember…a smile is your best accessory! *If the video is optional, do it.
Get recommendations from sorority alumni. If at all possible, get recommendations from sorority alumnae. Moms can ask on Facebook if they have friends who are sorority alumnae who are willing to write recommendations. Some sororities do not require/accept recommendations, but some require them. For big, southern schools, it’s a good idea to have at least one to each house, if possible. Lots of people believe you need to give alumnae “packets” containing a letter, your resume, and a headshot. That’s old school. Most sororities accept (and prefer) recommendations online now, so most alumnae do not want packets. I do not want packets; they are the bane of my existence. I always ask girls to send me a resumé and photo online, and I include that with my online recommendation. The recommendations are actually done with online forms through a sorority’s national website. They are not personally-written letters. They are forms, but alumnae can add comment to the forms. Recommendations do not guarantee anything. They are simply a “formal” introduction from an alumna to a chapter.
Make connections. Different schools have different rules about contact before recruitment. My daughter’s school has very strict rules regarding contact between potential new members and sorority members. Other schools allow contact right up until the start of recruitment. You can usually find the rules on the school’s Panhellenic website. Get the word out to friends and family that you will be participating in recruitment. You never know who might know a sorority member at a school.
Start preparing your “rush bag.” I have a whole post about rush bags and what goes into them. “Rush bags” are handbags for potential new members to carry with them during the recruitment process. They contain necessities for hot days, rainy days, and wardrobe emergencies. My post even has links to lots of the needed items, so it makes your shopping easier. See it here.
Start thinking about wardrobe, including shoes. Most southern schools have published information about 2023 recruitment, or they will soon. Read it, and learn what you’ll need to wear for each day. At my daughter’s school, the first round is watching videos of the chapters. The girls are issued t-shirts to wear for the second round; they wear them with cute shorts or skorts/skirts…and I don’t mean “booty” shorts. Cute dressier shorts or a skirt will be perfect. They need dresses for the next round, and they need a dress for the preference round, but all of that is different at different schools! Keep that in mind! Do your homework! Make sure you have an extra dress or two, in case of spills or if you need options, Obviously, different schools have different styles…even across the south. What is popular at Baylor might not work at SMU or South Carolina. What works at Georgia might not work at TCU or Florida State. Look at sorority Instagrams. Look at the Instagram accounts of girls who go there; you will likely see some pictures that will help. Don’t wear anything skimpy or too tight. Fitted is fine; too tight is a no-no. Last year, for our daughter going to Bama, we looked at Zara and Amanda Uprichard. There are some cute Amanda Uprichard styles on Amazon. For shoes, our daughter took nice sneakers for the first two days and comfortable low-heeled, nude-colored wedges for other days, except a dressier pair of shoes for Preference Day. The goal is to wear tasteful, flattering dresses that are comfortable. You don’t want to be fidgeting with your clothes, and if you aren’t comfortable, it will show. ***Also, some chapters require girls to have simple white dresses for formal pledging soon after Bid Day. It’s a good idea to have one on hand, just in case! They often go on sale after July 4 at lots of stores.Simple, modest, not low-cut, covered shoulders preferred. My daughter wore the white romper below, and no one was the wiser.***Here are a few simple styles I saw on some girls during recruitment last year. But keep in mind, you need to get what’s right for YOU and what’s right for the climate and vibe at the school you are attending:
Amanda Uprichard Allora Dress, some colors offered at $85 at time of writing. Several colors availablehere.
Amanda Uprichard Fiori Dress, some sizes offered at $93 at time of writing. Purchase here.
The glory of hem tape…OK, so they call it “Fabric Fuse Tape,” but I call it hem tape, because that’s what I use it for.
I’m on a college parents Facebook page. It’s a page on which parents of students at my daughter’s future college can post about different things. Sometimes…occasionally…I get helpful information. I also see lots of ridiculous posts where parents are looking for roommates for their kids or trying to do other things for their kids that they should be doing themselves. It can become quite comical. But recently, someone posted that her daughter needed to know where she could get a long formal dress hemmed within 24 hours. Good luck with that. If she had Fabric Fuse Tape, she wouldn’t be in a panic.
One thing that will definitely be in my daughter’s “emergency kit” (not her first aid kit, but the kit with safety pins, extra buttons, rubber bands, etc) will be hem tape. And before we take her to college, I plan to make sure she knows how to use it. Call it trashy. Call it cheap. But hem tape has saved me on more than one occasion, so we keep it in our house all the time.
What is hem tape, you ask? It’s special double-sided fabric tape you can use to hem clothing items. Since I’m 5’2″ on a tall day, I have to hem pants on the regular, and if I don’t have time to take them to the alterations place, I do them myself…with hem tape. The kind I use (link shared at end) comes straight from Amazon. When I need to hem an item, I turn it inside out and fold it where it needs to be hemmed. Then, I cut two-inch sections of hem tape and apply them one by one around the inside of the new hem, pressing them firmly in place with my hand/fingers as I go. No ironing needed…just firm pressing…and it holds. It’s no joke. I have “hemmed” a pair of pants in less that ten minutes when I needed to get out the door. It works even through washes.
A couple of weeks ago, our daughter had her Sadie Hawkins Dance at school. She had purchased a lovely dress that crossed at the hem in front. It was a short dress, so if the crossed hem opened while she was walking or sitting, it would have been indecent. She asked if she should pin it with a safety pin, and I said, “No. I have the perfect thing.” I got out the hem tape and cut a short tape. She was already wearing the dress, so it was easy to figure out where to place the tape. We held the two pieces of fabric together and placed the hem tape strategically…and she didn’t have any issues with it the entire evening. No, it will likely never detach, but it’s not an issue, because she can get into and out of the dress with it there.
I have lots of pants of different weights on which I have used hem tape. Heavy denim fabric? Check. Lightweight fabrics? Check. And i’ve used it when jeans came with frayed hems I didn’t like. Just fold under and apply hem tape…it will hold indefinitely.
So yes, we have hem tape all over the place at our house…in my bathroom drawer…in “the” kitchen drawer (you know, the one with all the paper clips, safety pins, thermometer, etc). I had never used it before a few years ago when I ordered it. I had gone to the alterations place at prom time, and the line was out the door. I didn’t have time to wait, so while I sat in my car contemplating what to do, I looked on Amazon and placed my first order for hem tape. It totally saved us.
So yes, I have it on the list of necessary items in the college emergency kit…and I think it should be a staple in any home.
To order your Fabric Fuse Tape (hem tape to me) from Amazon, click here.
When you’re getting ready to go to a Christmas party, the last thing you want to hear your husband say is, “You look like you’re going to a disco.” OK, so I guess it could be worse. It happened recently. I was dressed and ready to go, and my husband of 21 years made that statement.
What do you think I did? No, I didn’t get mad. I didn’t cry (as if!). I didn’t pout. I laughed till tears were rolling down my face! It was funny! I took another look in the mirror and realized he was right…I did look like I was going to a disco…and I laughed some more. I actually liked the look, but it wasn’t right for a Christmas party.
Honestly, I haven’t had the disco look many times in my life. I was a teenager and went to college in the 1980s…the heyday of Laura Ashley, Gunne Sax, and gigantic clothing. Seriously, when we should have been showing off our cute figures, we were hiding them underneath gigantic clothes. I’ve written about it before here. The era had a real influence on me, I suppose. No, I don’t wear Laura Ashley or Gunne Sax in the 21st century, but I still dress pretty conservatively. Of course, now, at 54, I don’t have the figure I had at 18, 21, or even 24. Now, people are really glad they don’t see more of my skin! So no, the disco look has never been a big part of my life.
But apparently, in 2021, when I was getting ready for a Christmas party, I dressed like I was going to a disco. Are there even discos anymore? I think the only “disco” I ever went to was in Acapulco, Mexico, in 1982. I was 14, and I was allowed in, so was it really a legit disco? The tour company we were with called it a “disco,” and it had flashing lights, music, and a dance floor, but I’m not sure it would qualify. I feel pretty sure I wore a blue dress…that’s about all I remember…that, and we watched the La Quebrada Cliff Divers from a balcony/patio on the back of the disco. The cliff divers in Acapulco were popular in the 1960s and 1970s; they were even featured regularly on sports television at the time. I was familiar with them before my trip to Acapulco, because my parents always had sports on TV at our house. Acapulco is not as safe as it was back then, but you can read more about the cliff divers here.
My disco ensemble for the Christmas party in 2021 was a cute black jumpsuit with a sparkly Christmas top underneath. Maybe it was the jumpsuit. Or maybe it was the sparkles. Whatever it was, my husband was right…I looked like I was going to a disco.
If you’re wondering, after I laughed till my stomach hurt at my husband’s assessment of my party ensemble, I changed. I decided to save my disco duds for a night out on the town…or maybe just a nice dinner out. I’ll be in California soon, so I will definitely have an opportunity to wear it there. No, not to a disco…to dinner. Anything goes in LA, so no one will care if I look like I’m going to a disco. Well, my daughter, who will be with me, might care, but she won’t have the final word.
Maybe I’ll play some DiscoDuck by Rick Dees in the hotel room while I’m getting dressed. I learned last week that Rick Dees and I have a mutual friend! Who knew?! I bet he would appreciate my disco duds.
***To see a 1976 video of Rick Dees performing Disco Duck, click here.***
Last week, our teenage daughter had her final high school Homecoming dance. When she was a freshman, it was quite the ordeal. All the girls in her grade were so excited to finally be attending a high school dance, and the boys were on the deal. They started asking early, and the girls started shopping early.
Oh, it was quite the ordeal. There is nothing like dress shopping with a 14-year-old girl. We ended up purchasing lot of dresses and returning most of them. We kept three. We had one altered…the one she really wanted to wear. I don’t even remember what it looked like, because on the day of the dance, she decided to wear a different one. The one she opted to wear was a dress I had purchased on a whim. She didn’t like it on the hanger, but apparently, when she put it on the night of the dance, she loved it. The problem? She was getting dressed with her friends at a friend’s house, and the dress had not been altered to fit. Her friend’s mother ended up pinning the dress to fit her. I think I still owe that mom for that. It was a cute, light blue, tiered dress…age appropriate and not just like everyone else’s.
Her sophomore year, they had a Homecoming dance, and I did not approve the dress she picked. I’ve never been one for gratuitous cutouts in dresses, and the one she picked without my input had cutouts at the waist. No offense to the folks who love cutouts in dresses. I just don’t. But her sophomore year, she wore a fitted red dress with cutouts. Usually I think cutouts look cheap, but I have to admit she did not look cheap in the dress. I was looking at it with a mother’s eye, and it passed the test. It fit her perfectly, and I thought she looked really pretty.
Her junior year…no Homecoming…thanks, COVID.
And this year, her senior year, I had absolutely no input. She works at a boutique in town, so she does all her own shopping. About two weeks before the dance, she said to me, “I’m going to wear a leather dress.” Ugh. That did not sound appealing to me, but I didn’t argue with her, because some battles just aren’t worth it. When she came home with the dress, she called me upstairs to zip it up, and I was shocked! I loved it! It fit her like a glove, and even though a leather dress sounds like she should be carrying a whip, it didn’t look that way at all. She didn’t look like a dominatrix. It was absolutely appropriate. I should have known it would be tasteful. It was a chocolatey brown “pleather” dress with ruching in front and thin straps. And I thought she looked beautiful.
In fact, there were lots of fitted dresses in her Homecoming dinner group. Remember the Little House on the Prairie dress trend from last year? I wrote about it here. It was a trend that drove me crazy. Why was everyone dressing like Laura Ingalls and Nellie Oleson?!? It was not a good look then, and it will never be a good look. Unless you’re wearing those dresses for religious reasons, you should bypass that “style.” I wore it in the 80s, and I have lived to regret it. There wasn’t one person who looked like she had purchased her dress in the Oleson’s Mercantile store. There wasn’t one girl who looked like she had stepped out of a Holly Hobbie book or DVD. Remember Holly Hobbie? Not a good look for the modern girl.
I’m certainly not saying it’s a good thing they didn’t have Homecoming my daughter’s junior year, but I’m glad I didn’t have to see them in those awful prairie dresses for a school dance. Maybe they wouldn’t have worn them. Maybe they would have ignored that style. I feel sure my own daughter would not have worn a prairie dress, since she turns her nose up at them every time she sees them, but would other girls have worn them? The world may never know.
I’m just glad I didn’t see any this year…not one prairie dress.