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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Fun Memorial Day Weekend Dates + Sailing Into Summer In Seersucker

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Gearing up for summer were questions to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners this week. Two or four favorites asked about guidelines for what to do and what to wear and what not to wear Memorial Day Weekend. 

Best Memorial Day Weekend

Q. I'm taking my girlfriend to Newport, RI. for the Memorial Day Weekend and in planning our time we're looking for special things to do that are somewhat off the beaten track and we're also hoping to hear live music. She's done the house tours and weather permitting we want to spend as much time as possible outdoors. Any ideas?  JC, Brooklyn

A. In honor of those who have served our country, Memorial Day Weekend is the official start of the summer travel season and the grilling season here is the northeast, with the requisite cookout or BBQ dinner party.

But what we love most is that it is finally warm enough for picnics! 

Take it slow and easy over the long weekend with a blanket and a picnic basket, and wile away an afternoon at the beach, on a sunny bluff or sailboat, or tasting local wines at a premier vineyard. 


Why not take a road trip or bike ride around Aquidneck Island out to Greenvale Vineyards (greenvale.com) in Portsmouth, RI, for an afternoon of listening to live jazz while picnicking and sampling exceptional wines. 

  • Greenvale Vineyards is a family-run historic farm on the Sakonnet River featuring an exquisitely restored 19th-century summer house and stable, which is now the vineyards' Tasting Room. Family members produce small batches of wines from vintage grapes. Many of these wines can be sampled to accompany your picnic, while listening to the sounds of a live jazz group on a lazy afternoon. 


By the way, the only price of admission to Greenvale Vineyards is a tasting list of a variety of phenomenal wines.

The seersucker suit

Q.  Going to the Hamptons for Memorial Day Weekend, is it too early to wear seersucker before June?  Edward, Manhattan

A.  No, Edward, it is not too early to wear seersucker.  Memorial Day Weekend is officially the start of the seersucker season in the northeast -- so sail away off to the Hamptons wearing anything seersucker. 

  • Seersucker fabric is easy to pack and won't appear creased after the long Hampton Jitney ride to the east end of Long Island. If you dove into the Atlantic after a boozy lunch, you could hang up your suit and it would be dry in time for dinner!
  • Nothing says summer with more durability than the timeless, classic seersucker suit -- and we have the hipsters to thank for the seersucker revival. 


When wearing a seersucker jacket with seersucker shorts, be sure that your legs are sufficiently tanned. Seersucker shorts (see photo) look better with a tan. If Leonardo DiCaprio can wear seersucker shorts, so can you -- but notice his tan.

Traditionally, men in the northeast only don their seersucker suits between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and still it's only really appropriate to wear seersucker during the hot summer months.

Know a well-constructed seersucker suit from a poorly made one:

  • A well-made seersucker suit is made of 100% cotton that has been treated to resist heat, and the trouser hem is reinforced with a heavier fabric to keep the shape of the trouser legs and protect the hems from wear and tear. 
  • Because of the ultra light-weight seersucker fabric, the suit lacks structure unless it is well-fitted to the wearer; you certainly don't want your suit to droop or hang from your body.
  • Have the seersucker suit jacket altered to have a natural shoulder that doesn't look over-padded; it can be lined or half-lined from the shoulder down.
  • The trousers should never be slim fit, and can even be slightly baggy. But then you don't want to look like a clown if they're awkwardly sloppy. The heaviness of the extra fabric in the hem should keep the legs from ballooning out.
  • Don't forget:  good seersucker trousers should be lined from the waist to the break in the knee.


The more classic seersucker suit is blue and white stripe, with the blue stripes slightly wider than the white stripes; from a distance the suit will look light blue.

  • Alternatively, you can find seersucker with the white stripes wider than the blue, as well as more colorful variations:  tan and brown stripes, or combinations from green to yellow to pink.


Accessorizing your seersucker can be tricky.  

For instance, if you overdo it by wearing a seersucker suit with a striped bowtie, pattern suspenders and white shoes topped by a straw boater hat, you'll look dated -- like yet another remake of the Great Gatsby. 

  • Shoes can be either a brown penny loafer, white suede bucks, or spectators, which are brown and white -- or like DiCaprio (in the above photo), do your own thing.
  • The usual suit socks rule is broken here: You don't have to match your socks to one of the colors in your striped suit, you can go wild with a crazy pattern or simply go sockless. Then there are always those who wear no-show socks.
  • Of course a bowtie gives a traditional southern flare, or you can tame down the flame with a solid knit or linen necktie -- or don't wear a tie at all. 
  • Seersucker trousers are made for ribbon or surcingle belts.
  • It goes without saying that you would wear a solid white or pale blue collared, button-down shirt.
  • Solid red suspenders are traditionally worn when the trousers don't have belt loops.

It goes without saying that there are men who are not going to look their best in the famously unstructured seersucker suit; the heavier material of a more structured suit is more flattering on an overweight man or woman. (Yes, there are snappy seersucker suits for women as well, but this question came from a man.)

  • A plus for the seersucker suit is its versatility: for a more casual look the jacket can be worn with dress khakis, blue jeans or Nantucket Reds (which are faded for a salty look).
  • Pairing seersucker trousers with a solid color poplin or linen jacket or blazer works nicely, as well.


So, whether you're asking about DiCaprio's seersucker look (above) or you have a style of your very own, have a great time over the  Memorial Day Weekend. You'll be well-dressed.


Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners.


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