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BorderStyle: Summer Suiting for the DC Summer

Khelan offers up some summer suit options that work in the DC summer heat.

Khelan offers up some summer suit options that work in the DC summer heat.

Above: Thomas Pink Shirt, J.Crew’s Ludlow Summer Suit and Ralph Lauren Tie by khelan on polyvore.com.

From Khelan Bhatia. Follow Khelan on Twitter @KhelanB or email him at khelan[AT]borderstan.com. 

Today, I have some options for suits that work in the DC summer heat (and address the issue of seersucker, once a DC uniform in the summertime).

First, let’s address some do-not-do fashions on the subject of (ill-placed) patriotism on Independence Day. I was in Penn Quarter the other day, and I saw a fashion atrocity that I hope was perpetrated by a tourist and not a resident. This guy was wearing… get this… American flag slacks. As in white stars on a blue background on the right leg and alternating red-and-white stripes on the left leg. Cannot make this sh*t up. It almost made me yearn for a constitutional amendment banning the desecration of Old Glory… or mandating a sense of style. Relax, ACLU’ers, I believe that free speech is a fundamental, inalienable right. However, fashion is most definitely a privilege.

The Loss of Seersucker Thursday

Anyhow, down to business at hand. Not sure if you read Dana Milbank’s Dana Milbank’s Washington Post column last Tuesday, but it was an interesting piece intertwining two of my passions: politics and style.

The article’s intent was clearly to lament the loss of a frivolous, yet important, tradition in the halls of Congress: Seersucker Thursday, which was started by former GOP Senator Trent Lott to create a sense of bipartisan camaraderie and, well, fun in an often humorless institution. And, hey, I’m all for tastefully pushing the sartorial envelope in the workplace.

But the column got me thinking about seersucker in general and I came to this conclusion: Very few guys actually look good in the summer fabric. In fact, it looks downright costumey and (dare I say it?) Colonel Sandersesque on most guys. Don’t get me wrong; I fully appreciate that everyone from Thom Browne to Club Monaco has attempted to make the seersucker suit look cool… no pun intended. But it so rarely does. Am I right?

However, that doesn’t change the fact that many of us have to still wear business formal to the workplace even as the thermostat inches closer, and sometimes past, 100 degrees. And, as I’ve said repeatedly, this column isn’t just my little corner to bitch and moan about the heinous crimes against style. I pose solutions to the problems I often bring up (unless you’re wearing American Flag trousers — there’s no fix, outside of shock therapy, I can think of).

The Perfect Summer Suit

J.Crew’s Ludlow fine-striped suit is quite literally the perfect summer suit (well, at least, the best one I’ve ever worn). It’s cotton, so it breathes better than tropical wool, and doesn’t wrinkle quite as easily as linen. Plus, it’s just this side of off-white (sometimes slate, depending on the light), so it doesn’t look too stark, as pure white suits often can (look, this is still the District, not Miami. Let’s not get too crazy). And the stripes are so wonderfully subtle that you can pair it with literally any color or pattern dress shirt.

Here’s an idea: let’s try a red-striped shirt…maybe this one from Thomas Pink. And a blue knit tie from Polo. Red, (sort-of) white, and blue. Oh hey, I just found a solution for Mr. America, too.

This column first ran July 4, 2012.

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- who has written 48 posts on Borderstan.

Khelan Bhatia writes a column on style and fashion. He has been in D.C. for five years and lives on U Street — by far his favorite neighborhood in town. You can find him at the 9:30 Club, U Street Music Hall, Dickson, DC Noodles. Follow him on Twitter @KhelanB; email him at khelan@borderstan.com.

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