The colorfully attired oarsmen on the left are members of the Columbia rowing squad, which, despite the beleaguered state of that university this spring, is competing in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association regatta at Syracuse next week. The matching sweaters and socks the freshman rowers are wearing represent a minor revolt against the sock-less fad and the chopped-off-sleeve sweat-shirt syndrome that have characterized student uniforms for the past several seasons. The seeds of this revolution in campus attire, one that threatens to sweep the country by the time school opens again in September, were sown in that other student hotbed—Paris.
Two years ago bright-colored crewneck Shetland sweaters became the rage of French university students. With the eye for coordination that seems to be a French trademark, they also bought American-made white crew, or sweat, socks and dyed them to match the lavender, lime, pink, orange and yellow of their favorite Shetlands.
In the summer the look migrated from Boulevard St. Germain to St. Tropez, and in the winter to the after-ski night spots of Courchevel and Val d'Is√®re. American sock manufacturers, looking for an antidote to the sockless trend among teen-agers, jumped on the bandwagon and began dying the socks bright colors themselves. Today Parisian students flock to such "sock bars" as that of Le Drug Store to buy "les Burlingtons," the name taken from the American company that makes them.
This year Burlington is selling 76 different shades of the Orlon-and-stretch-nylon socks in America and is even marketing a picnic basket containing a Howard Johnson array of 48 different colors as a $79.95 gift item. Esquire Socks and Interwoven, two other crew-sock manufacturers, each have almost 60 different colors in their '68 lines. Five years ago there were about 20.
There are almost as many colors available in lightweight sweaters as there are in socks this summer, and the fashion is to wear them with spanking-white jeans and well-polished loafers. While the Shetlands and mohairs are too expensive to become student collector's items, there are now $3 sweat shirts that also match up with all the ice-cream shades. There may even be reason to hope that this varsity look will extend to teen-age hairdos and bring about a revival of the crew cut.
The red and orange summer-weight Shetland sweaters are $18 at Bonwit Teller, all stores. The aqua, yellow and pink cable-stitch sweaters are of mohair and cost $39.50 at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York and Beverly Hills. The socks are $1.50 and are available everywhere.