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One of the important attributes of a true gentleman is the ability to look neat without being stuffy, inconspicuous without being drab, and distinctive without being gaudy. It is the art of being an individual without being a character.
It could be said that wearing the right clothes to fit the occasion is merely a matter of good taste; nevertheless it is not a matter which can be entirely ignored. There is a certain amount of truth to the old maxim of "when in Rome, do as the Romans do," although this should not mean that we should abandon all of our clothing tastes entirely, and conform.
The well-dressed man is the man who looks average at a distance, but close-up exhibits a definite individuality in both his personality and his clothing.
This is a universal rule, not merely a justification of the present clothing scheme rampant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This style did not evolve as the result of a group meeting over a few beers and deciding exactly what a student should wear; it has evolved for the sake of comfort and utility. For example, flannels--no cleaning, button-down shirts--no starch, white bucks--no shine, white socks--no hand washing.
Yet it is folly to live at Harvard College and cling to the dress habits of some other locality. Purple shirts and lime-colored pants may be the height of fashion in Southern California, but a man in such a costume passing through the Yard is likely to stop traffic and cause much derisive comment. This does not mean that lime-colored slacks are bad, merely that they look peculiar in the surroundings of the Yard. Some people, out of spite, will cling to their lime pants and two-tone jackets; it is their privilege.
Most prefer to conform to some extent, to strike the balance between the individual tastes, and the Harvard stereotype. It is the easiest way to be yourself and yet not have to explain your actions.
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