Rabalais’ Political History: Don’t Be A Sucker, Wear Seersucker

With the passage of the Easter holiday, seersucker suits and skirts and shorts are again making their routine appearances in the marbled halls of Baton Rouge and Washington, D.C.

Seersucker may be fashionable now, but its history is rooted in the practicality of the fabric. According to reporting from National Public Radio, the traditional blue and white weave draws its name from the Persian words for "milk and sugar,” a homage to color and texture.

In 1909, a New Orleans tailor began making suits out of the lightweight cloth, knowing that it would provide some relief for retail consumers in the oppressive Louisiana heat.

By the 1930s, then-Gov. Huey Long, an ardent campaigner who enjoyed spending his free time out on the road, had adopted seersucker as a wardrobe hallmark. In Huey Long Invades New Orleans, author Gary Boulard writes about how the governor’s suits were often rumpled, sweat-stained and covered with flecks of dirt as he barnstormed rural parishes.

Seersucker grew in popularity, and not only among Louisiana politicians. Since Washington, D.C., always experienced humid summers by virtue of also being built over a swamp, seersucker was a mainstay on Capitol Hill as well.

Historian Robert Dallek writes about John F. Kennedy, as a young congressman, often appearing for floor votes in a rumpled seersucker jacket. According to the Senate Historical Office, air conditioning did not make its way into the U.S. Capitol until the 1950s.

After climate control was added to the Beltway’s most important chambers, seersucker slowly gave way again to black and blue blazers. Down in Louisiana, however, seersucker remained fashionable among politicos during this period, with late Senate President John Hainkel and former Gov. Edwin Edwards often notably sporting the light suits.

Decades later, wanting to return the iconic outfits to Congress, then-U.S. Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi started the tradition of an official seersucker day in 1996. Lott, then the majority leader, told members to wear their seersucker on a particularly hot Thursday in June. When speaking to reporters about why he created “seersucker Thursday,” Lott said that he wanted to show that “the Senate isn’t just a bunch of dour folks wearing dark suits and — in the case of men — red or blue ties.”  

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California started leading the chamber’s female members in observance of “seersucker Thursday” in 2004. The tradition was discontinued by Congress in 2012, but U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy led the efforts to reauthorize the official designation in 2014.

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

   By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |    March 19, 2019    |    Issue 179 

Issue 1196

LaPolitics Weekly B y   J E R E M Y   A L F O R D   &   M I T C H   R A B A L A I S Issue 1,196  

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

   By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |    March 12, 2019    |    Issue 178 

Issue 1195

By   JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS Issue 1,195                        

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates By JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS February 26, 2019   |

Issue 1194

B y   J E R E M Y   A L F O R D   &   M I T C H   R A B A L A I S Issue 1,194        

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates By JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS February 19, 2019

POD: Donelon, Disco & the Dividends of Defeat

https://soundcloud.com/lapolitics/donelon-disco-the-dividends-of-defeat  In the latest episode of The LaPolitics Report podcast,

Issue 1,193

Issue 1,193 - February 14, 2019 By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais Dollars & Question Marks Abraham’s ante, Gumbo coming

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

ROLL CALL St. Tammany emerges at center of gubernatorial campaign… John Gallagher talks 2019 municipal races… A look back at the

Issue 1192

Issue 1192 - February 7, 2019 By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais Keeping Their Powder Dry GOP wants to see movement in

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

February 5, 2019 — Issue No. 174 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch

Son of a Preacher Man: Bob Mann Speaks

https://soundcloud.com/lapolitics/son-of-a-preacher-man-bob-mann-speaks For our latest episode of The LaPolitics

Issue 1191 – Washington Mardi Gras

By Jeremy Alford and Mitch Rabalais WMG 2019! A Candidate Invasion, Party-vators & 3,000 Politicos You may have fun back

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker,Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates January 29, 2019 - Issue No. 173 By Jeremy Alford

CAPITOL GAINS: The Race for Commissioner

https://vimeo.com/312861344 If there's a sleeper race on the 2019 statewide ballot this fall, it could potentially be the election for

Bourbon, Basketball and Budgets: F. King Alexander Speaks

https://soundcloud.com/lapolitics/bourbon-basketball-and-budgets-f-king-alexander-speaks For the 60th episode of The LaPolitics Report

CAPITOL GAINS: Cajun Swing-Voters, a Northern Split & the Race for Governor

We're mapping Louisiana's race for governor (literally) in this episode of Capitol Gains. With contenders gobbling turf in the north and

WHERE DAT? (Part One of Two)

How Trent Lott, NASA & the Need for Profits Collided to Move the Saints to Mississippi By the time that the National Football League

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

* * * * *   S P E C I A L   H O L I D A Y   I S S U E   * * * * * The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille &

SPONSORED: Fostering A Healthier Community One Step At A Time

TPG recently attended the Acadiana Culture of Health Summit, an event that brought together healthcare professionals, local leaders, and

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates December 11, 2018 / Issue No. 168 By MITCH RABALAIS

SPONSORED: Cheniere Energy Makes A Generous Donation In New Apprenticeship Program

The new program will launch in January 2019, and eligible students will take what they have learned in SOWELA’s classrooms and apply it to

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

  ALERT: TO ALL VOTING ADULTS & PEOPLE WITH HEART CONDITIONS OR YOUNG CHILDREN…. THE SILLY SEASON IS UPON US… THERE IS NOWHERE

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates November 27, 2018 — Issue No. 166 By: Mitch Rabalais