Thursday, June 2, 2011

Seersucker Thursday

If there is one thing folks on Capitol Hill are in agreement about after the Memorial Day holiday, it's Seersucker Thursday. Sometimes referred to as the "world's most exclusive club," believe it or not on Thursdays around Capitol Hill you'll find a lot of Members of Congress and their staff strolling the hallways in their finest seersucker outfits.

The thin fabric is typically blue and white striped and considered a signature look in the South because of its lightweight feel, making it ideal for the humid weather we face each summer. You can easily find seersucker in a variety of colors in many pieces of clothing and/or accesories. Seersucker dates back to the early 20th century when we weren't fortunate enough to have air conditioning. Imagine walking the streets of D.C. in this oppressive heat wearing a heavy wool suit. According to Senate historians, in 1907 a New Orleans clothier made their lives more comfortable by designing lightweight suits with the rumpled cotton fabric. These suits became very poplur because they retained their charming looks despite being washed frequently due to the unbearable heat. The tradition more or less died around the 1950's when modern air conditioning came inside the capital city's interior builings.

In 1996, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott decided it was time to bring this long-forgotten tradition back to the Senate. He chose a hot Thursday in  mid June where senators could come to work wearing their famous seersucker suits. Senator Lott said his goal was to show that "the Senate isn't just a bunch of dour folks wearing dark suits and - in the cae of men- red or blue ties." In 2004, California Senator Dianne Feinstein decided to encourage her fellow women members to follow along with the tradition. She said, "I would watch the men preening in the Senate and I figured we should give them a little bit of a horse race." The following year, 11 of the 14 women senators wore seersucker suits given to them as gifts from Senator Feinstein.

Even though this tradition got its roots on the Senate side, you will find plenty of House staffers following in their footsteps. From my personal observations, I've noticed that this tradition is mainly followed by the southern states. I used to work in a New Hampshire Senator's office and I'm now in a U.S. Congressman's office from Califorina and I am the only person in both offices that has ever worn seersucker. Most of them didn't even know what is was until I told them. Now you're probably wondering, is Erin wearing seersucker today? You know it! I have on a yellow seersucker suit with light pink trim. Is Chris wearing seersucker? You better believe it.

Happy Seersucker Thursday!!

U.S. Senate

Where to shop?

Men:  Jos. A. Bank

Women:  Macy's

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