Corduroy epidemic on campus

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A group of Princeton students, 1965.
A group of Princeton students, 1965. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

Fashions in undergraduate clothing change suddenly in America as well as Oxford. Last autumn there spread rapidly throughout the colleges of the United States what has been described as an epidemic of corduroy trousers. This outbreak has lately been traced to a chance remark of Roper, the famous football coach at Princeton. In a blunt talk to his men he told them that if they paid more attention to getting out and practicing and less dressing up Princeton athletics would make a better showing. He recalled his own college days in 1890, when corduroy trousers were worn, and said he would like to see Princeton men of the present day wearing clothes of that kind. His exhortation was interpreted literally, and within a fortnight practically every member of the football team appeared in corduroy trousers. Within two months 700 pairs of corduroys had been sold through the students’ co-operative store on the campus, and it was not long after that before Princeton had set the fashion for the entire college world of America.