It’s that time of year. If you are not involved in Greek life, you have eyed your Instagram blankly over the past few weeks, wondering where it is all of these well-dressed college girls are going, and why they bothered to go there at all. Sure, you have heard the term “date party,” but it has become yet another empty, college-kid term gathering dust in the back of your brain. Something about girls and boys and a lot of pictures, right?

More inclusive than the mixer and less extravagant than the formal, one might call the date party the Goldilocks “just right” territory of all Greek functions. Our Greek amiga, Arrie Timmer, said it best: “Date party is an event organized by a fraternity or sorority where the members invite their own dates and you go to a club or somewhere cool and have a fun time.”

And though that all sounds fun and great, what sort of ensemble would such a characteristically “college” outing require?

I sought out to find an answer.

After extensive research (and a lot of Pinterest-ing) I have safely formed a hypothesis: the date party look is inexpensive, Instagram-friendly and unabashedly sexy. 

What, exactly, does a price-friendly outfit search entail? “I searched black dress on Amazon Prime and filtered the results from price: low to high,” said first-year sorority sister Jane Schmid. “And that was the most important part because I’m poor. So then I saw a nice long-sleeved one, which is good for fall or winter, with hella cute cutouts and it was like $12 so I was thrilled.”

Onto the next: there is more to a great outfit than a pretty price tag. Stylistically speaking, a date party outfit must possess high levels of Gram-ability (a term I am coining right now). In other words, if it won’t look good on social media, it will not be worn. What makes the whole look Gram-able is certainly subjective, but there appear to be a few key rules to follow. As Anne noted during our conversation, many girls decide upon all-black everything because “it’s the norm,” meaning no one will be confused if you choose to post a full-body photo of yourself that night. Timmer chimed in with a note on accessories, and said that they “are key if you’re a cool girl.” She mentioned that chokers are very in right now, but that she loves a “good body chain.” Regarding shoes, no one seemed to pay any mind. As Jackie said, “It’s mostly about the dress because they only see the dress in your Instagram anyways.” 

Finally, the date party look is incomplete without an acknowledgement of sex appeal. Each of the girls with whom I spoke agreed that they are “not a big fan of loose dresses” and tend to opt for tighter options “to feel most confident and fun.” Schmid’s fitted, cutout dress and Timmer’s little green number seemed to fit the build appropriately. 

After all that hubbub, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the perfect date party look was worth the trouble it involved. However, after asking our friendly DP enthusiasts, the answer felt clear: date party is worth it. 

“You’ll be there with some of your best friends and it’s just a blast to have a carefree night where you feel pretty and just dance with your friends,” Schmid said. Timmer agrees: “For me, date party is a reason to look hot and have fun with your friends and a cool date,” she said.

Every date party look may be unique in its own right, but each shares the common goal of combining confidence with youth-infused fun. Girls like Timmer and Schmid have forged an overlap between looking good and feeling good, and they are proud. 

Although I am entirely unaffiliated with Greek life, I now smile every time a date party candid crosses my Instagram’s path. Yes, it is the DP time of year, but that no longer sounds so bad to me.

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