WASHINGTON – Cheery blue-and-white seersucker suits,often matched with pink shirts or bowties,popped up in all corners of Capitol Hill Thursday as part of the annual tradition of Seersucker Day.
Started by Sen. Trent Lott,R-Miss.,the informal day is celebrated by a bipartisan group of men and women from across the country.
The light cotton fabric,designed to keep skin cool and never need ironing,is most often a striped blue and white. But female staffers modeled less traditional pink and green versions,and a staffer for Sen. Jim Demint,R-S.C.,even handcrafted seersucker bowties for his interns.
“It's cotton,it's light and it's cheap,” Lott said of the fabric.
“The Senate takes itself too seriously,” he said. “We need to lighten up and find a way to smile with each other.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein,D-Calif.,joked that the tradition started with “Trent preening on the floor in his white bucks.” Bucks are the wingtip oxfords traditionally worn with seersucker suits.
About a dozen Senators wore seersucker suits Thursday,but the tradition has spread to many government workers.
This year,Seersucker Day fell both on the first day of summer and the day of the annual Capitol Hill ice cream social.
Interns for Lott and his fellow Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran dressed in seersucker to celebrate the kickoff.
“We love it,” said Lori Ann Holland,a 21-year-old from Starkville,Miss.,who works for Cochran. “Seersucker is my favorite material.”
“It's tradition,it's Southern heritage,” said Cochran intern Braxton Coombs,19,from New Albany,Miss. He said most guys at his college in Mississippi own seersucker.
Caitlin Stopper,a staffer for the Senate Commerce Committee,said her mom has dressed her in seersucker since she was 2. From Cherry Hill,N.J.,Stopper said one of her favorite pictures is from a family trip to Nantucket,when she was on the beach in a seersucker dress.
Stopper bought a seersucker suit last year to celebrate Seersucker Day and was happy to wear it again.
Seersucker is “fun and different and not stuffy,” Stopper said “Everyone on the Hill wears black and gray.”
Dan Pollock,20,is from Bedford,N.Y.,and interns for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton,D-N.Y.,who has celebrated Seersucker Day in the past. His mom,too,has dressed him in seersucker since before he can remember.
“It's very comfortable,and it's not too hot,” Pollock said.
Steven Popps,23,and Hughes Bates,26,both work for Sen. John Warner,R-Va. They both wore blue-striped seersucker pants,pink shirts and pink ties,though Bates opted for a bowtie,while Popps wore a necktie.
They both say they've worn seersucker all their lives.
Bates,who grew up in Greenville,S.C.,said seersucker is a “way to be casual in a formal setting.”
And of course,”The ladies like it,” Popps said.