OLLI: Senior Cords - An Indiana Apparel Phenomenon

OLLI: Senior Cords - An Indiana Apparel Phenomenon

Event Type



Regional Hospital, Pavilion 501 E. St. Anthony Drive




(812) 237-2336


With Rachel Rose, M.S. Apparel Merchandising - Apparel Researcher Cost: Free Prior to the internet and prevalence of social media, high school and college seniors in Indiana were expressing their social identity and group membership through senior cords. Senior cords were corduroy pants and skirts in shades of yellow and cream that were hand painted for the wearer. They were worn to express the wearer's status as a senior at school events. Cords were elaborately and colorfully painted denoting group memberships, educational status and personal preferences. Images included pop culture characters, caricatures of teaching professionals, organizational emblems, club references, names of friends and acquaintances and inanimate objects. The cords were often both aesthetically pleasing and representative of the life of the wearer. Senior cords were introduced as early as the turn of the 20th century but popularized closer to the mid-20th century, and existed as an Indiana-only apparel phenomenon. Rachel will discuss the differences and similarities of the senior cord imagery and how the cords are an extension of the wearer, serving as a representation of social identity.