From Khelan Bhatia. Follow Khelan on TwitterÂ @KhelanBÂ or email him atÂ khelan[AT]borderstan.com.Â
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, letâ€™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 wearingâ€¦ get thisâ€¦ 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 Gloryâ€¦ or mandating a sense of style. Relax, ACLUâ€™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 Milbankâ€™s Dana Milbankâ€™s Washington Post column last Tuesday, but it was an interesting piece intertwining two of my passions: politics and style.
The articleâ€™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, Iâ€™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. Donâ€™t get me wrong; I fully appreciate that everyone from Thom Browne to Club Monaco has attempted to make the seersucker suit look coolâ€¦ no pun intended. But it so rarely does. Am I right?
However, that doesnâ€™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 Iâ€™ve said repeatedly, this column isnâ€™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 youâ€™re wearing American Flag trousers â€”Â thereâ€™s no fix, outside of shock therapy, I can think of).
The Perfect Summer Suit
J.Crewâ€™s Ludlow fine-striped suit is quite literally the perfect summer suit (well, at least, the best one Iâ€™ve ever worn). Itâ€™s cotton, so it breathes better than tropical wool, and doesnâ€™t wrinkle quite as easily as linen. Plus, itâ€™s just this side of off-white (sometimes slate, depending on the light), so it doesnâ€™t look too stark, as pure white suits often can (look, this is still the District, not Miami. Letâ€™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.
Hereâ€™s an idea: letâ€™s try a red-striped shirtâ€¦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.