A spectre is haunting Harvard. Creeping silently over the western horizon, it imperceptibly shadows the Cambridge scene, directing a bleak, demanding palm towards the wallet pockets of ten thousand men. It is the spectre of mid-western sartorial tastes which now threatens traditional eastern university styles.
The CRIMSON this week learned that within two years both the flannel suit and the tab or rounded shirt collar will have gone the way of the hair shirt and the diamond stick pin. Square merchants blame the recent influx of western students here for the increased demands for lighter shades in shits and sport coats as well as the swing to one and two-button models from the standard three-button style.
The merchants also blame the mid-west contingent for the recent infatuation with "miracle" fabrics such as dacron and orlon. These synthetic materials are softer than the traditional cloths and retain shape and crease indefinitely. The fabrics are found in shirts; ties, socks and almost every other garment, except for underwear which is tartan this year.
Dacron in hose is valuable as protection against the holes created by the many brands of loafers which are again popular this year. The most practical shoe, however, is still the plain-toed cordovan. Contrary to common belief, cordovan is not a brand name, but refers to any shoe constructed or horsehide, the toughest of leathers used in shoemaking.
The traditional flannel suit is fighting a desperate last-ditch battle to retain its preeminence in the field. Gray flannel seems to be definitely losing favor and the manufacturers have introduced a new color--"char-brown"--which they hope may help them steal a march on the rest of the garment industry. If the color gimmick falls, merchants say, the flannel regime may well be coming to an end.
The men from the provinces have also displayed an alarming taste for pink, yellow and patterned shirts which may force the old guard to follow the new maxim: that no style-conscious man should wear a white shirt before the sun sets. In addition to the color change, veteran haberdashers in the square also predict a switch away from the tab and round collar. The merchants recall the previous short visits of these styles, pointing out that they have never lasted more than a season. Their current demise is tearfully anticipated and already provided for by the major shirt manufacturers.
The trend away from the raccoon coat continues as the bulky great-coat of recent years gives way to lighter, weather repellent fabrics with zip-in linings. The crowning glory of the college man's hat also seems on the down grade. One style, however, the Tyrolean green alpine model with feather brush and hidden ear-muffs, is gaining popularity so quickly that one expects to hear yodels echoing from the steps of Widener.
A new form of an antique vestement has been accumulating momentum for several years and may soon be de rigeur. This is the weskit, a gaily decorated reincarnation of the banker's vest. The most popular of these is the tattersal (alternately colored narrow, criss-cross lines). Solid colors are definitely in dis-favor.
At any rate, most of the Crimson ward-robe is due for some radical rearrangement in a year of profound and expensive change in male apparel. Of the traditional clothing we can only say that if all the flannel suits over sold in Harvard Square were laid and to end--we wouldn't be surprised.