Oxford American stylist columnist and man-about-town L. Kasimu Harris is a judge at Sippin' In Seersucker, a libation-heavy benefit for the Ogden Museum of Southern Art that fetes the storied, quintessentially Southern fabric. Harris is uniquely suited to judge not only because of his discerning eye, but also because of his long relationship with seersucker. "The fabric (has been) professionally beneficial to me," Harris says. Here, he discusses his feelings about seersucker, tips for contestants seeking to win the seersucker fashion contest, and the fabric's serendipitous weave throughout his writing life.
You once wrote a column for Oxford American about your experiences wearing seersucker. You have a very long, intense history with the fabric. Would you discuss your feelings about it?
The first time I went to the thrift store with my mom, the summer after high school, I was kicking and screaming, but I left with three seersucker suits. ... In 2010, when I met Marc Smirnoff, founding editor of the Oxford American, he had on a seersucker blazer, and that was our entryway into conversation.
I love that I can recall exactly what I wore on several life milestones because of the seersucker. More importantly, wearing seersucker right after high school helped shape my style.
Last week, a Missouri senator proposed banning seersucker suits for people over age 8 on the grounds that they "look ridiculous." What's your reaction to that?
At first, I wanted to verbally attack him. Then, I read the entire article. He has a right to not like seersucker. I appreciate that he’s willing to go against a trend that’s becoming increasingly popular among his constituents. Maybe if he had an example of seersucker that he liked, he may try it in moderation. I’ve seen some all-black seersucker suits that would give him the cool benefits of the fabric and perhaps the more conservative ... look that he prefers.
Creativity and well thought-out ensembles. ... I didn’t see the contest last year, so I won’t have existing favorites or any basis.
What are you going to wear to the event?
Sadly, I have no clue. I need to go shopping for some new seersucker. And right now, I don’t even have a vision of what I want to wear. Last year, I lucked up on some awesome Billy Reid seersucker shorts at Buffalo Exchange.
I wear a lot of Wild Life Reserve ties, and many are seersucker that’s done so differently. Because of their commitment to the fabric, I wish Jolie and Elizabeth made seersucker for men. As far as a proper suit, I’m not sure. I prefer a slimmer fit and a flat-front pant — I have not seen that off the rack often.
Most often, opportunities don’t come packaged the way we expect or would like. In 2011, Brandon Reynolds, my roommate at the Oxford American Summit for Ambitious Writers, and I were joking about a style column to the OA brass. He encouraged me to pitch the idea before the summit ended. Now, Parish Chic is just over a year old and has lead to me appearing in international and national publications. Last year, Nathan Martin asked me to be in the Wallpaper* Guide New Orleans. ... That book looks fantastic and has worldwide distribution. In March, Southern Living did the “South’s Most Stylish Cities” and I represented New Orleans. Now, I’m judging the Sippin’ in Seersucker competition. None of this would’ve happened without seersucker.
The Shops at Canal Place (333 Canal St., 504-522-9200) hosts Sippin' In Seersucker 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Friday, May 10. Tickets are $40 ($25 for museum members), or $50 ($30 for museum members) the day of the event and can be purchased here