12 June 2011

Southern Comfort

I think it must have been the pictures of my grandfather decked out and dressed to the nines, I think it must have been my father's dark suit and dress boots (which I have been known to wear on occasions), or maybe it was my professors in divinity school always wearing nice suits, or maybe it was my own desire to move beyond jeans and polos. Whatever the motivating factor(s) I love suits - I make no apologies.

In Rhode Island my wardrobe consisted primarily of wools and light wools. Believe it or not it does get hot and humid in New England on certain Sundays. And believe it or not most churches are not air conditioned. One day JosBank ran a $99 sale on seersucker suits, in a heartbeat I bought one. I had to buy it online, they did not sell them at the store in RI - naturally. Everyone at church laughed at me for it, but I didn't care. When I interviewed here at the New Orleans congregation I wore a seersucker suit (I think that was good for at least 15 votes, regardless of my sermon).

I think seersucker should be in every man's closet here in New Orleans - you just can't breathe in poplin and the humidity, which never stops, has no mercy for wrinkles! You can wear seersucker, walk to get a cup of coffee and hardly break a sweat (that is an exaggeration, of course). I like linen but after five minutes it looks like you wore them to take a nap, then woke up, rolled them in a ball, used the ball for a pillow, then went back to sleep for a half an hour. Seersucker, however, is made for New Orleans.

First my best ever seersucker story. On Friday afternoon I drove up to Oak Alley Plantation for a wedding rehearsal. Upon arrival the wedding cooridinator sought me out to tell me the wedding party was help up in traffic, advising me to enjoy the scenery for the next twenty minutes or so. I moseyed out front, found a iron chair and sat down with my glass of lemonade. I pulled out my emailing-machine-phone to check some messages. Out of the corner of my eye I spied a large group of tourists coming my way. I chuckled inwardly asking wouldn't it be a hoot if they took a picture of me in my seersucker suit. The group began to pass when all of sudden one of the ladies asked if she could sit beside me and have her picture taken with me, then another, then another, then another, then another, then another. It was the craziest thing I have ever experienced. They thought I was part of the ambiance of the place, they thought I was the 20th century re-enactor or something. It was hilarious.

I'll get to the wedding in a minute.

But seersucker ain't the only game in town down here though. Almost two years ago I read a blog post by Jim Sommerville, the pastor of the FBC of Richmond, VA - Disclaimer: For the record I have never met Jim but we have some mutual friends that speak highly of him; he seems like a good enough chap (he has some WV in his blood, so he can't be all bad). End of disclaimer - on the long forgotten tradition of wearing white suits to church in the summertime; I would surmise from Confederate Memorial Day to Labor Day. I was enamored by the white suit but thought I couldn't pull it off. Then one day JosBank had the white suit on sale, online, for $99. Again I snatched it up (this time my wife took care of hemming the pants).

I saved the suit for Easter Sunday; I even bought a pair of white bucks to wear with it. I have to tell you I felt like a million dollars in the white suit. I felt like revival could break out at any minute; it did not but it could have!

Back to the wedding. Last night the wedding party was looking dapper in their black wool tuxedos; they were also sweating like it was nobody's business. I, on the other hand, was cool as cucumber in my white suit!

Yesterday I also completed the outfit...a white belt.

Now I have instituted a new tradition, the first Sunday of June, July, and August is officially seersucker (for the men) and hat (for the ladies) Sunday. The inaugural event in June was a smashing hit. Many men said the day was just what they needed as the impetus for going out and purchasing the suit. I can't wait to see how this tradition will unfold. I am hoping Oxford American will come down and do a story on the revival of our fashion tradition... Until then I am wearing my white suit till the humidity stops beating down on me.

Did I tell you I that I heard J.D. Grey, a former pastor of FBC NOLA, used to wear a morning suit during the non-summer months.

the author on Easter morn


Jim Somerville said...

LOVE the suit... Got to get one for myself.

B.Rogers said...

Hey you two young whipper-snappers!
In the period from 1946-1950, my pastor at FBC Birmingham AL (John L. Slaughter, PhD SBTS)wore the classic black morning suit with tails, curved front and traditional striped trousers in the pulpit every Sunday morning.
Now, that is the next sartorial step for the two of you in the pulpit!
Bill Rogers

G. Travis Norvell said...

Jim -- you have to get one not only are they cool as can be - they have also give you the feeling that revival could break out at any minute (regardless of the sermon or circumstances)

Bill -- I love the morning suit! But have you priced those them? they are more than the robe I bought from Wippell's in Bristol, UK a few years ago. I am going to start looking at vintage shops or may even ask the wife if she would be interested in making me one.

Michele Benson Huck said...

I enjoyed the blog post, Travis. I will be sure to don a hat the first Sundays of July and August. Have long wanted to buy a seersucker suit for Jimmy, maybe now is the time.
That sure is a nice photo of you on Easter morning!

Cheap Men Suits said...

I love New Orleans. Love to buy fashion at inexpensive church men's suits shops there. Bought a couple of men's church suits last time.