Last night, as I watched a bit of Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show, an image from a show guest’s childhood—an image in which the guest was wearing a leisure suit—resurrected in me a long-lost memory. I once owned a leisure suit; maybe more than one. I remember one quite clearly, though. It was sky blue. I wore it to work, more than once, when I got my first professional job after finishing my undergraduate degree. I think I had a light green one, as well; it would have been an odd hue somewhere between pale avocado and smoky sage. Though I was just an intern, not a long-term employee, I had to dress professionally. And a sky blue leisure suit fit the bill. Back then, in 1975 and 1976, leisure suits were fashionable. By the early 1980s, they were passé in the extreme.
Though I loathed, then and now, the garish muted wash colors, along with the odd, crepe-like fabric of the leisure suit(s) I wore, I rather liked the concept; I did not like the execution. I still like the concept. If an updated leisure suit were introduced today, I might wear one. I like the idea of comfortable, sophisticated semi-casual business (and social) wear. I did not like the weird fabrics and offensively strange colors of the suits I recall from my post-graduate youth. But I could readily give my support to a reimagined, modern, nicely tailored leisure suit. I can’t quite adequately express this next thought, but the style of leisure suit I envision would fit nicely—in material, color, and style—with the Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian style of architecture. Though I can’t describe it, I would know such a suit if I saw it. I suspect it would be a medium charcoal grey, perhaps a muted pattern seersucker or other breathable, cooling fabric. Something refined, understated, and comfortably casual. In my regime as unquestioned ruler of this world and all others, I would decree neckties an abomination unto humanity and its relatives. No one would wear ties, upon pain of being force-fed fast-food fish sticks for the rest of their natural lives (which, of course, would be dramatically shortened by the consumption of fast-food fish sticks).
Odd, isn’t it, how old memories buried under the detritus of time and experience can suddenly pop fully-formed in one’s head? And it’s equally strange that such recollections can prompt a creative re-imagining of something so mundane as leisure wear. I doubt I am in danger of becoming a fashion designer.