“Fun,” is not a word that your hear in reference to the Senate much, if at all, these days. Our governing body sits a perpetual standstill, with stone faced Senators in drab dark suits occupying both sides of the dividing line. Yes, there’s little joy left in politics these days, which is why we here at ACL propose that it’s time the Senate brings back Seersucker Thursday. Started by Senator Trent Lott in the late nineties, Seersucker Thursday added some much needed levity to D.C., that is until it was discontinued in 2012 because some Senators deemed the event too “frivolous.” But, really isn’t that the whole point? Clearly being deadly serious about every minute issue isn’t helping out our deadlocked Senate, so we say it’s high time to return some good humor to Capitol Hill. A bit of sartorial swagger wouldn’t hurt either.
While Ian Fleming himself never liked to be compared to the fictitious secret agent that he wrote to life during his twilight years, Mr. Fleming and James Bond were kindred spirits through and through. Fleming, much like 007, was wealthy, well-educated, and even served as a British intelligence officer during WWII. It was during this stint in the service that Fleming first visited Jamaica, the island destination from which he would pen all fourteen of his James Bond novels. Having fallen in love with the tropical atmosphere, which was unlike anything he had encountered during his English upbringing, Fleming returned to Jamaica at the conclusion of the war and purchased a plot of waterfront property on northern coast of the island. Dubbing it “Goldeneye,” a name borrowed from a covert plan he had developed during the war, Fleming constructed a modest house overlooking the Caribbean where he would spend each winter for the following decades.
With its dual strap waistband, barrel cut legs, high inseam, and row upon row of pleats, the Gurkha short is certainly not for the faint of heart, but we’re sure the original Gurkha wouldn’t have it any other way. This overloaded short can be traced back to the Gurkha, a legendary Nepalese military regiment that consisted of that nation’s most fearless soldiers. The Gurkha were so revered for their bravery that even after suffering a loss to the British during the Anglo–Nepalese War in the early eighteen-hundreds, the kingdom enlisted them to fight for the English Empire.
Their legendary prowess at combat was not the only thing the Gurkha brought along with them when they joined forces with their former adversaries, for they also contributed, well their name. Overtime these shorts, which like almost all colonial garb featured a tan color and loose cut that could easily combat the often oppressive heat, were given the Gurkha name as they were so popular within the region.
It’s one of America’s greatest rags-to-riches stories: two brothers, born into the utter poverty of lower-class Scotland in the mid-1800’s, immigrate to America and amass an inconceivable fortune all on their own. The Carnegie tale is a prime example of American industry at its finest, because in nineteenth century America, you didn’t exactly have to do everything by the book as long as you made billions.
That’s not to say that Andrew and Thomas Carnegie were purely driven by greed, after-all their name is emblazoned on buildings up and down the Northeast as a testament to their philanthropic spirit. From concert halls, to universities, to museums, the only thing the Carnegie’s liked more than making money, was putting their name on buildings, yet one of their most spectacular structures didn’t bear their name at all.
Toward the end of his all too short life Thomas, the younger of the two brothers purchased a vacation house on Cumberland Island, just off the coast of Georgia. Thomas was eight years Andrew’s junior and had spent his career assisting his brother with the daily operations of the family’s various corporations. Andrew was the idea man, while his brother did much of the grunt work, a role which helped make him both incredibly wealthy and incredibly tired. By his late-thirties, Thomas was ready to retire, and so he and his sizable family purchased “Dungeness Mansion” on Cumberland Island, a house with a history that rivaled that of the Carnegie’s themselves.
Allow me to preface this piece by saying that no, I do not personally wear pith hats in public (although there was that one time) and no, I am not necessarily advocating for them to become popular (although stranger trends have happened, looking at you men’s skirts). But like the boater —which we are still waiting to make its comeback— it could be time for the pith hat to see a world wider than Ralph Lauren window displays and letter carriers.
A pith hat is not your standard headgear. More protective than practical, more of a shield than something stylish, the pith hat was a military helmet, that was adopted in the mid-nineteenth century by Anglophiles on safari, who were just looking for a way to combat the blistering Saharan sun. It was in the late 1800’s that the pith hat rose to prominence throughout Europe’s tropical colonies. The original version of the hat was constructed from real strands of pith extracted from the region’s plants (although later this would be replaced by cork and ultimately plastic), wrapped in white cloth, and often adorned with a military insignia.
Long before the L Train became one of New York City’s central arteries shuttling straphangers between Manhattan and the steadily gentrified neighborhoods of Northern Brooklyn, there was the El Train, an elevated rail line perched above Third Avenue. The El (which as you might have guessed was short for Elevated) was founded by the New York Elevated Railway Company in 1875, becoming the city’s second such line, alongside the NYERC’s Ninth Avenue Line. The service initially ran from the South Ferry to the foot of Harlem, but was expanded after being purchased by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company in the early 1900′s.
Despite the shameful mall brand that it has morphed into over the past couple decades, there was a time when Abercrombie & Fitch was great. More than great even, Abercrombie & Fitch was important, a brand that was as integral to our country’s culture of clothing as it was to our culture as a whole. This was a company that outfitted presidents and pioneers, authors and actors, explorers and icons. Today, the Abercrombie & Fitch clientele is decidedly less illustrious, and their products are about as American as a three Yuan bill. I oft wonder how many shoppers even realize that Abercrombie & Fitch were real people to begin with? Then again, it would be wrong to fault anyone for overlooking the real Abercrombie & Fitch. After all the philosophy upon which these two gentleman built their brand is wholly absent from the stores that bear their names today.