“Only Very Rich Men Wear Seersucker Clothes” — Damon Runyon

I miss summer suits.

(The modern businessman’s summer dress as modeled on the beach by Pres. Nixon.)

I’ve written before about the miracle fabric that is seersucker. I’m thinking more about it today, even though it is cold and rainy. Just yesterday it almost unbearably hot. These transitional days make it hard to dress. So, during my daily wardrobe rumination my thoughts wandered to the Richmond I first encountered in the 1980’s.

Back then, it wasn’t at all unusual to see businessmen dressed in khaki poplin, seersucker and pincord suits. The trousers were all flat front and hemmed just a bit too short. The jackets were all three button, rolled to the second button and cut like sack suits. Shirts were buttondowns, usually white. Ties were striped with the occasional whimsical Hermès. White bucks weren’t uncommon, but penny loafers were the more usual fare. There were even straw hats to be seen. I used to chuckle at the very 1960’s-ish-ness of it all.

Yes, I would stand there in my double-pleated, full-cut, super 120’s hi-twist suit with the slightly extended shoulder and drape cut, striped shirt and woven patterned tie and chuckle, the very picture of late 80’s Italian style, at the passing businessmen. Guess who has the last laugh now? Those men who wear the same clothes that they’ve worn for thirty years. I still see them on Sundays walking into church. They look great. My 80’s suits languish tucked into the back of my closet for a good reason.

I’d like one of those seersucker, pincord or poplin suits today. The 100%, lightweight cotton ones. Even better, I’d like to see us American men adopt them again. At least for Fridays, when a slightly more wrinkled appearance might be acceptable. They remain surprisingly suspicious in the eyes of the modern air-conditioned acclimated businessman. Damon Runyon’s words quoted above don’t seem to ring true today. Pincord and seersucker all smack of Southern costume, although poplin and linen looked poised to make a comeback, if GQ and J. Crew are to be believed.

What about you? What special seasonal suits will you break out this year? Or do you only wear three season fabrics?

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6 Responses to “Only Very Rich Men Wear Seersucker Clothes” — Damon Runyon

  1. John says:

    I seldom have to wear a suit in the summer now, & so I make do with suits that could also be worn in the fall & spring. I do have a summer-weight blue blazer that I can wear with summer-weight grey wool trousers. I do have a tan poplin suit that I bought @ Brooks Brothers circa 1980, but I’m sure I would not fit into the trousers if I tried to wear it now. When I lived in Florida I had a seersucker suit to wear in the summer.

  2. CJN says:

    I find that, at least in the South, it’s no so much costume as summer necessity to wear seersucker, linen and poplin. Warm weather does not mean a compromise of standards, and I still require a coat and tie in the office. This is an elegant and very utilitarian way to maintain professionalism during the summer months.

  3. toad says:

    I’ve worn the navy poplin this season, the tan will wait for warmer weather. Tan/white, blue/white seersucker are on deck as are the linens. I love summer clothes.

  4. I could tell only what my husband wear when is hot and sunny, he likes natural fabrics, especially linen and cotton, they are very easy to wear and they are perfect for hot days that are coming, it’s important to feel comfortable.

  5. Toad, I’m a grey and cream seersucker man, when I can find it.

  6. ExBankerJon says:

    Linen trousers and suit, seersucker pants, sportcoat, suit, and brightly colored trousers are all in the queue – in fact, tomato red on today…

    I love the use of the term “costume”. Any and all clothes are costumes. The goal may be anonymity – white shirt, grey suit, blue tie, or the goal may be to brighten the room (yellow pants), but, either way, there is a goal… (or, at least, a decision has been made – even if by not considering the decision).

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