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Classic trends: The unique history of senior jeans

Hannah McCleskey, staff writer

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Senior jeans or “cords” were a popular college trend that started in the early 1900’s. It is rumored that this popular fashion trend started at IU. In 1904 the trend spread to Purdue University. When two senior boys saw a pair of sample corduroys in the window of a local department store, they decided to have a pair of creative corduroy pants crafted for both of them. Other seniors liked the idea of having a pair of pants that were unique to them displaying their graduation year, majors, minors, and more. It wasn’t long before the Purdue campus was full of senior students showing their school pride on their clothing.

 

Only the seniors were allowed to wear the cords, and they made sure that underclassmen did not take over this fashion. Along with the cords, the seniors also wore derbies (a popular style of hat) and carried bamboo canes.  The underclassmen would often steal these items from seniors and deface them, only to have them returned to the owner by the time the first football game of the season rolled around.

 

During the football game, the seniors would wear their cords and  would often throw their derbies when a touchdown was scored, or, at the end of the game if no touchdown was scored at all.

 

Not surprisingly, these jeans or cords were often riddled with vulgar, racist, and provocative terms and language that was popular among students which led to the banning of senior cords at some universities and schools. However, the trend was brought back due to the love of tradition only with the new rule that the dean or principal had to approve what was on the pants.

Due to new modern trends and heightened school rules, the once popular trend died out and has only been resurrected a few times, mainly for homecoming football games.

 

For more information of this topic check out the Purdue University library either on campus or online.

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