The Green Story


“It’s not easy being green.”
       - Kermit the Frog 

“Yes, it is.”
       - Peter Lloyd Greer


St. Patrick’s Day has arrived, and as joining in the festivities traditionally requires “the wearing of the green,” we at Surmesur would like to help.

Ireland is referred to as the Emerald Isle for a reason: its green, very lush grass is the dominant feature of its rolling countryside. Thus, donning green in solidarity with the Irish started in the 1920s as enclaves of Irish immigrants grew in all of the major cities across North America.  

Unfortunately, the Irish were considered a scourge. They were uniformly disliked and considered drunkards. It was the Kennedy family of Boston’s upper class who started to influence the way the Irish immigrant was perceived when Joe Kennedy, the family patriarch, was appointed ambassador to the Court of St. James in the United Kingdom.

 Joseph Kennedy was the American ambassador to the Court of St. James during Kristalnacht

The Kennedys were almost an American royal family with all of their children, their vitality and their fame. The sons were often photographed in high society locales like Palm Beach and Cape Cod.

So what does this have to do with wearing green, you ask? 

The country club, where golf was the order of the day, was a place with stringent dress codes and lots of green grass. One could only be in shirt sleeves on the course. Jackets were required everywhere else. All men owned and wore a navy blazer, but some men pined for an alternative. Kelly green was the alternative. Thus, the Kelly green blazer became a fixture in town as well as at the club. Typically single-breasted and brass-buttoned, it was worn with dove grey trousers or cream flannels, a button-down Oxford shirt and a club stripe tie.

 Jordan Spieth poses with the Kelly green jacket after winning the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National

The next green sartorial element was the Kelly green trouser, paired with the aforementioned navy blazer. Of course, Kelly green polo shirts were made by Rene Lacoste, but green shirts are not typical. That said, green candy-striped shirts work for the hazel-eyed man, as do green gingham shirts. 

The way to put a toe in the water is to experiment with green accessories. Try a green necktie, green socks or a green pocket square, but when in doubt, remember that Kelly green is the green of St. Patrick’s Day.

66th Annual Albany St. Patrick