Once upon a time, gents would put their pocket watch in the breast pocket when in the country. I believe this was done only when they did not wear a three-piece suit, as the pocket watch was normally worn in the vest pocket.
Having put the watch into the pocket, there had to be some way to retrieve it, hence the cord. The metal chain that was normally used with a city suit was too ostentatious for the country look (or perhaps it was too much in such a prominent position), so a cord of a less showy material was used instead.
My father, a VP for one of the large Wall Street brokerage houses, used to wear a similar seersucker suit during the summers 40+ years ago (no wide lapels or bell-bottoms even though it was the 1970s). . . sans the white bucks, cricket sweater, and watch chain though. He pulled it off and looked good.
Once again, all these pouty pretty boys. . . . Too hip, too short, too tight, and too “cool.” I might be wrong, but it seemed to me that RL’s ads were once aimed more toward grownups. But maybe I’m misremembering.
Some of these looks are silly and some are great, a microcosm of Ralph Lauren itself, which must appeal to a variety of demographics that look to it for different things.
So long as RL is adequately servicing all of those various demographics, there should be no issue with the fact that it is not a niche brand–except among those who glean their self-identity from the brands of clothing that they wear.
I share your sense of alternative colors. There are some, but they seem to be rare. I once had a wine color seersucker that I wore with charcoal tropical weight slacks, white shirt, and a black knit tie. Never seen it in that color since.
Brooks Brothers has offered navy seersucker blazers. I think they may be one on this site seen in a showroom preview. And there’s currently an all-white seersucker jacket, though I think it’s for formalwear (shawl lapel).