Seersucker Day on Capitol Hill is less than 24 hours away , and the concept can be a bit tricky for those not from the Deep South.
So, as a service to our readers, we called on the originator of the Capitol Hill tradition, ex-Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, for his advice on how to make the most of Seersucker Day.
“It was one of those rare occasions when something was bipartisan and for both genders,” the former Republican leader said. He added that it was a fun-spirited day where members could “get a picture and laugh together a little bit.”
Trent Lott’s Seersucker Do’s
- Do branch out of one’s regional comfort zone. They don’t have this ritual back home? Just try it! It doesn’t matter if one is a Midwesterner, Yankee, Rust Belter or West Coaster. Seersucker Day is for everyone, in Lott’s mind. “The ladies from Maine and the senators from Pennsylvania and Minnesota got a bigger kick out of it than anybody,” Lott said.
- Do wear pastel-colored ties. “You can wear different ones,” Lott said of his tie color choices. “I wear yellow. But the biggest hit is pink and matching pink socks, and [with] your white bucks, it all matches up nicely.”
- Do wear a neck tie or a bow tie. “Either one. I remember a couple of senators wore bow ties,” Lott recalled. “Bob Bennett from Utah did. I don’t wear bow ties. I prefer a regular tie, but some people clearly like the bow ties with the seersucker.”
- Do match one’s socks with one’s tie. See above photo.
- Do spread the love. Don’t work on the Hill anymore? Take Seersucker Day with you, wherever you go. Lott’s current employer, Squire Patton Boggs, continued the third-Thursday-in-June tradition at the firm, with “a little music to go along with this occasion.”
Do channel your inner Dianne Feinstein. “
She was a great player,” he said. His first couple of stabs at the tradition were de facto male-only, until the Democratic senator from California intervened. “The second year or so, Dianne came over and said, ‘Is this a guy thing, or can the women get in on it, too?'” Feinstein, in Lott’s telling, went to her female colleagues. “She found that most of the women didn’t have the outfit,” he said. “She got their measurements and had them made for a number of them. We had as many as 10 women one year. Dianne was a big player.”
Trent Lott’s Seersucker Don’ts
- Don’t wear black shoes. “You shouldn’t wear seersucker without white bucks,” Lott said. “If you show up in black shoes, you’ve just blown your fashion style.” In fact, black shoes are so repellent to Lott that he called them the biggest faux paus possible. “The biggest one is, you can’t wear off-color shoes. They do have one seersucker with a brownish stripe, a light brown. A stylish light brown might work [for shoes].”
- Don’t wear the suit out-of-season. Alas, not every day can be Seersucker Day. This is a strictly Memorial-Day-to-Labor-Day affair. Lott is conservative in his usage, wearing his seersucker “three, maybe four times a summer.”
- Don’t panic if one does not yet own a seersucker. Scrambling for a suit? Lott says to remain calm. He is not partial to any particular brand, but he recently visited Brooks Brothers. “They have a nice supply of them” in stock, he reported.
Don’t be lame like the Senate. For now, this is a House affair. CQ Roll Call has been unable to confirm whether senators will officially or unofficially participate. Lott expressed passion about the decision a few years ago to end Seersucker Day. He says he hears from old colleagues who say “there is a consensus that they made a mistake to stop it.” But mostly, he added, “The Senate doesn’t like to have fun anymore.”
- Don’t call up Lott asking about seersucker unless one owns one. “You need to rush right down to Brooks Brothers. … You could at least get a jacket!” a slightly mortified Lott said to this reporter.
Is your boss dressing up? See a member prowling Longworth in the duds? A colleague? Snap a pic, send it here and we’ll determine “Who Wore It Best” on Thursday.