Cornell Sorority in Hot Water for Strict Dress Code

There always have been so-called rules about how to dress — such as no white pants after Labor Day — but a Cornell University sorority fashion guide has taken it to a new level, even specifying wardrobe by weight.

Pi Beta Phi sorority’s dress code guideline, which was leaked online, demands students at the Ithaca, N.Y., university who rush wear accessories, and then it gets specific.

“I’m not saying you have to wear a Harry Winston wreath," the guide reads. "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.”

The guide includes a "yes" and "no" column for acceptable and unacceptable clothing, shoes and accessories.

Unless you weigh under 130 pounds, you should stay away from clothing made with satin, the guide insists – only exception is if it’s "from Betsey Johnson or Dolce & Gabanna" and you have "on three pairs of Spanx."

The guide has sparked a debate about how far such an organization should go in dictating member fashion.

A Cornell spokesman, Blaine Friedlander, asserted that the sorority had done nothing wrong.

"The Pi Beta Phi sorority handed out fashion advice to their members," Friedlander said in a statement to "Every day in our society, we deal with fashion ideas. Many businesses have ‘casual Fridays’ and some social event invitations suggest ‘black-tie optional.'

"In other words, our society has certain norms. ... [The Pi Phis] have every civil right to speak their ideas," said Friedlander. "They haven’t done anything wrong other than issuing fashion guidelines."

But Pi Beta Phi Fraternity’s national chapter, whose motto is "leading with values," says it’s working closely with its Cornell chapter regarding the dress code e-mail.

"The e-mail that has circulated does not in any way reflect the way the chapter conducts recruitment and the chapter fully understands the implications of the e-mail to the general public," Wendy Drochelman, the national chapter's director of marketing and communication, said in a statement to

"We have acknowledged the error in judgment that led to the composition of this email and have apologized to the other members of the Cornell Panhellenic community and to the National Panhellenic Conference for any implications it has caused."

Included in the controversial guide are views on leggings: They're OK, as long as they’re "not from American Apparel." The pricey Tory Burch flats, starting at $195, are encouraged. But "no plastic shizzz" and "no camel toe."

There is also a "life lessons" section devoted to how the girls "rushing" should groom themselves and what makeup they should use.

"Get waxed, cut, colored and groomed!!!! Mani and pedi prior to Ithaca!!!!"

"If your skin doesn’t look good, nothing else will…Chances are you need to do something about your skin," the guide reads. It also notes, "Blush: This is not optional."

Cornell’s rush week ended on Wednesday, when freshmen received notice of which sorority they had been invited to join.