In 1996 Mississippi Senator Trent Lott began an annual tradition in Congress called Seersucker Thursday, a bit of bi-partisan frivolity that paid homage to the pre-air-conditioned days of Capitol Hill. It lasted until 2012, when the idea of politicians remaining cool for one day in the hot summer was deemed frivolous. It returns this year on Wednesday, June 11, under the name National Seersucker Day.
Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-LA) recently entered a proclamation in the Congressional Record stating, “Seersucker Day was established to honor this unique American fashion. I wish to restart this tradition by designating Wednesday, June 11th as National Seersucker Day. I encourage everyone to wear seersucker to commemorate this iconic American clothing.”
Haspel, not surprising, is all over this, issuing a press release that contains the following:
Seersucker has a long-standing place in the halls of the Capitol. In the days before air conditioning, seersucker was a stylish necessity to battle D.C.’s summer heat—and political hot air. That tradition waned, but in 1996, Mississippi Senator [R] Trent Lott initiated an annual tradition in Washington to honor a simpler time when there was more charm and playfulness in Washington attire. For the better part of two decades, members of the House and Senate dressed in their best and brightest seersucker and gathered for a photo to kick off the summer. That tradition was shelved during the economic downturn but it’s coming back next month when members of the House will once again show up to work in their summery, seersuckery best.
The return of National Seersucker Day couldn’t come at a better time for the iconic American men’s brand, Haspel, who invented the seersucker suit in 1909. The brand recently relaunched for Spring/Summer 2014 by Laurie Haspel Aronson, the founder’s great granddaughter, who is reigniting Haspel for a new generation. Poised for the comeback, she tapped the award-winning design team Shipley & Halmos to create American-made clothing that echoes the legacy of its founder while advancing the style of the Haspel man.
To celebrate National Seersucker Day, Haspel invites you to don your best and brightest seersucker. The brand will be hosting multiple seersucker giveaways via their social media channels in the days leading up to June 11, and they encourage everyone to participate in the summertime sophistication of wearing seersucker.
So get your seersucker cleaned and pressed for next Wednesday. Between now and then we’ll offer plenty of inspiration on how to to style your outfit as we plow through Seersucker Fest 2014. Below is the first suggestion, courtesy of Senator Lott: matching pink tie and socks. — CS & CC
Last weekend O’Connell’s was profiled in the Buffalo News under the heading “global purveyor of old time fashion.” The article charts the retailer’s embracing of e-commerce and can be read here. There’s also a slideshow that will probably have you reaching for your wallet. — CC
Fashion rolls through time in cycles — while also sliding up and down on a see-saw.
For the last several years the sockless trend has reached the point where it’s now quasi-normal for with-it guys to wear dress shoes, suits and ties without stockings on their feet.
Ivy Style is here to report on the long-overdue backlash, scheduled to take place in the summer of 2014.* Think about it: if a surfeit of guys are wearing suits with no socks, then the logical alternative (actually illogical, but that’s rather the point) is to wear socks with shorts.
Matthew Karl Gale (“Makaga” in the comments section) has depicted what will happen on street corners around the country as the socked and bare-ankled pass each other with each passing the same judgment.
The socks-and-shorts look can be seen in these two photos below, one dating from 1960, the other from the pages of “Take Ivy.” Now go forth, besocked gentlemen, and spread the word.
* Ivy-Style.com cannot guarantee an actual fashion trend will take place.
The era of men wearing proper hats has certainly gone the way of the dodo. Blame it on JFK. Still, there are older men and younger dandies who are somehow keeping the hat business afloat. For them, May 15th is a special day, as it’s the traditional date of putting away your wool hats and bringing out your straw hats, marking the sartorial turn from the cold winter to the warm summer.
Vintage photos reveal that this tradition was present during the Ivy heyday. Young men are out in lighter fabrics, donning their straw hats, and generally looking pleased to be out of the harsh Eastern winter.
“Hat bands were made of a variety of different fabrics with bright, summery colorways,” recalls Richard Press, former president of J. Press. “Madras, batik and rep bands were common and were a part of the Ivy summertime uniform.”
The boater hat in particular made its way into the wardrobes of various Ivy men. It has always been the oddball piece of headwear. It was a specialty hat, often worn by members of the cheerleading squads and university bands. “Boaters were also worn specifically for sporting events, such as the Kentucky Derby,” says Press, “and rowing events on the Charles and Schuylkill rivers.”
While it’s appearance is quirky, it’s association with sports and school pride made it suitable at such events for the students. The first three photos are from the 1953 Skimmer Day at Penn, while the botoom photo is of the Princeton band in 1961. — MATTHEW KARL GALE (Continue)
One of the hallmarks of the preppy approach to dressing is that clashing colors are embraced. The most notorious example is pink and green. But we don’t living in a preppy era, and today one of the most prevalent sartorial sins is not clashing, but over-matching.
I’ve got an op-ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal that critiques the growing trend for match-matchy outfits in everyday business attire as well outfits for golf and tennis. My original, alas cut for length, had this preppy passage:
In the world of sport, the matchy-matchy dressing formula has become so prevalent in professional golf that PGA players are starting to resemble LPGA players, minus the skirt. In the days before Rickie Fowler started matching his belt to his driver head, the WASPy country-club formula was always to wear clashing colors, such as the preppy cliché of kelly green flagrantly contrasted against bubble-gum pink. But just as today’s professional golfers are more muscular and athletic than those before, their clothing has followed a logical progression that began with the Scottish tweeds of the “sport of kings,” passed through the yellow-pants-with-sky-blue-shirts phase depicted in “Caddyshack,” until finally reaching today’s polyester performance fabrics in the matching combos associated with basketball uniforms. In tennis, another sport once governed by upper-class English taste, the sacrosanct Wimbledon garb of all white (a neutral color, like black, navy, gray and tan), has been supplanted by attire heavily weighted on accent colors, such as a neon-green shirt worn with matching headband, wristband, shoelaces and grip tape.
Head over here for the full story. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
Some time later today, according to the timer counting down on its website, Duck Head will relaunch. The brand has its genesis in the postwar workwear market, and when I say postwar, I mean the War Between the States. “For a preppy Southern college guy in the 1980s,” writes Eileen Glanton in a November, 2000 Forbes article, “Duck Head Apparel khakis were as indispensable as a pair of worn Top-siders and a pink Polo shirt.”
Brothers and Civil War veterans George and Joe O’Bryan started Duck Head in 1865, buying army surplus duck canvas tenting material which they repurposed for work pants and shirts. The business would become known as O’Bryan Brothers Manufacturing Company, and operated out of Nashville, Tennessee.
In 1892 the brothers attempted to trademark the word “duck,” but it was already in common use, even among those who didn’t hunt. Undaunted, they took inspiration from their sporting roots and registered the trademark Duck Head in 1906. The company turned out hardy vests, coats, pants and overalls as they entered the new century. The company would become a leading contract maker for the government during the Second World War, turning out over five million garments. After the war Duck Head returned to the civilian workwear market. It embraced country music, becoming a sponsor of the Grand Ole Opry and hitching their wagon to Hank Williams’ rising star.
The question one might ask is how and why did Duck Head did became a preppy staple? “The duck is the most beloved of all totems,” writes Lisa Birnbach in “The Official Preppy Handbook,” and as true as that may be, Duck Head khakis were born of one’s man foresight.
In 1978 a textile mill operator was trying to unload 60,000 yards of unwanted cotton khaki material. The operator approached Dave Baseheart of O’Bryan Brothers with his problematic material. Baseheart said, “They offered me a price and I bought it. I did not know what I was going to do with it.” Baseheart’s solution was to use an old workwear pattern, run up some khakis and slap on the now iconic yellow mallard duck label. He convinced a store in Oxford near the Ole Miss campus to buy 12 pairs, and they sold out in three days. (Continue)