How to Dress Fratty

Button-down shirts and khaki pants are a fraternity students’s staple clothing.

Young men have several items to buy to prepare for life in college but some of the most important will be their clothes. Dressing in the proper manner to fit in and look relaxed at the same time is the goal of many male students who seek the fraternity look. Gone are the days of slouchy jeans, tennis shoes and torn T-shirts. For the fratty look, they have been replaced by clothing that possesses a casual but understated elegance.

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Shirts, Jackets and Coats

For a more laid-back look during school hours, polo shirts, both with short and long sleeves, are the easy-to-wear option for the fraternity look. Ripped, sleeveless, faded and worn T-shirts are not fashion essentials. For a dressy and still understated style, button-down shirts are the popular choice. In both the polo and button-down styles, quality and a good fit are essential to achieve that preppy, upscale appearance. Shirts must be tucked in at all times. Sweatshirts are only for athletic wear and should be replaced by fleece jackets or pullovers, blazers or a casual leather jacket. A trench coat is a long-term investment that will last a student years into the working world.

Slacks and Jeans

Jeans are still a wardrobe necessity, but they must fit well and sit at the mid-waist. They can be a dark or medium blue and be a high quality brand. Low-riding, distressed or faded jeans will not make the grade with the frat look. For a dressier appearance, plain khaki, navy or black pants will go well with both polo and button-down shirts. A plain but well made belt is a necessity with any pants.

Dressing Up

A plain dark suit is a necessary item for awards programs, special dances or dinner dates. The best type of suiting material would be wool, although it could be traded in for linen during the warmer months if necessary. For the more formal occasion, a classic black tuxedo would be an essential — if funds are not available to buy this ensemble, renting is always a viable option.


In the past, athletic footwear was widely accepted as the shoe of choice for college students. Dressing fratty would relegate this footwear to be worn only for sports. Casual leather loafers are the college norm for the fraternity style. They can be boat shoes such as Sperrys or plain, square-toed leather slip-ons. Moccasins are also acceptable for the more casual occasion. Formal footwear would be dressy plain or tassled black shoes.

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