June 16, 2006

Seersucker day becomes sign of sisterhood

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In the Senate, sisterhood is

Like many other Senate traditions, Seersucker Thursday was
initially male-dominated.

But on Thursday, more than half the 14 women senators
donned mostly identical natty blue-and-white crinkly striped
suits -- courtesy of California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who
outfitted her women colleagues with $150 suits on sale at
Brooks Brothers two summers ago. Only about 15 of the 86 men
donned their stripes.

"I would watch the men preening in the Senate in their
seersucker suits, and I figured we should give them a little
bit of a horse race," said Feinstein. "It's a fun thing."

Feinstein acknowledged that the rest of the year she seldom
takes her seersucker skirt and jacket out of her closet. "It's
not very California," she said.

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, of Mississippi,
dreamed up the ritual about seven years ago as a fun tribute to
traditional southern fashion.

He wanted "to show folks that the Senate isn't just a bunch
of dour folks wearing dark suits and in the case of the men -
red or blue ties," his spokeswoman said. This year, Lott wore a
pink tie with his seersucker -- and matching pink socks.

Feinstein's California colleague Barbara Boxer, not one
usually given to half-hearted gestures, opted to wear the
seersucker blazer over dark slacks. Maryland Democrat Barbara
Mikulski, not known as among the more fashion-conscious
senators, passed on the seersucker altogether, saying the
jacket was way too big on her after she lost weight during an
illness last summer.

Coincidentally, the Senate was debating legislation on Iran
and the word "seersucker" has its roots in a Persian
expression, shroshakarshir, literally "milk and sugar" that
referred to what is now called candy stripes.