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Seered Suckers: Pols Laud Louisiana's Linen
The Pelican State is famed her cultural exports such as cuisine and music, but our contributions to the greater zeitgeist also include fashion. Seersucker, the native fabric of NOLA, is being celebrated this week through a series of Seersucker Days. There is some debate as to when the holiday falls, but in Washington D.C., Louisiana’s Senator Bill Cassidy spearheaded the celebrations on Thursday (6.09).
In homage to annual, bipartisan commemoration, hundreds of legislators showed up on the Hill donning their finest seersucker suits. The beloved lightweight fabric first entered the halls of government as a product of necessity. The heat and humidity simply made traditional, yankee-style suits unwearable. The advent of air conditioning later changed that condition. However, in the late 1990s, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott decided to bring back the tradition through a formal Seersucker Thursday feted annually in June.
In 2004, California Senator Diane Feinstein took the tradition co-ed. She purchased suits for her fellow colleagues. “I would watch the men preening in the Senate,” she stated on the Senate website, “and I figured we should give them a little bit of a horse race.”
After a hiatus, organizational responsibilities fell to Cassidy from 2014 on. “Seersucker is more than fabric — it's a symbol of American made products that create manufacturing, shipping and sales jobs across the country. It is also the melding of fashion with comfort,” the legislator declared in a release.
New, this year, Cassidy introduced some social media friendly props such as a “picture frame” cutout. This tool came in handy for Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves (below) who disgraced his native state by arriving in a heavy blue jacket instead of linen.
Check out some pictures below. (All photos via Cassidy’s Twitter account).
Given our role as the birthplace of seersucker, Cassidy is a perfect custodian. The South’s most iconic suit was introduced in 1909 by local tailor Joseph Hapsel, Senior. He noticed that seersucker was a popular material in colonial British India. In fact, the word seersucker is derived from the Hindi words shir o shekar, meaning milk and sugar. It perfectly describes the texture of the fabric: half rough and half smooth.
Hapsel noted that the fabric held up well when crafted into a suit. Even better, it looked sharp. He figured that if seersucker wearers were comfortable in the Indian climate, why wouldn’t they work in the Deep South?
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