Seersucker has truly become a staple in aspiring dapper gentlemen’s wardrobes, particularly in warmer climate conditions. In this detailed guide, we cover the history of seersucker fabric, fabric properties & how and when to wear a seersucker suit, jacket or other articles of clothing!
That enervating summer heat has arrived. Your dark denims, trousers and dress shirts have been seamlessly replaced by flip flops, shorts and loafers. Or at least you thought – until that damned reminder came in about your best friends upcoming nuptials. That’s right. Casual wear is going to have to give way to something more formal, and the mere thought of dressing up in that scorching 90 degree heat becomes more nauseating than a heat induced stroke.
As you frantically rummage through your wardrobe, it dawns on you that those heavier woolen suits that you’ve strutted during the cooler months of the year are not going to cut it for that summer beach wedding. What are you to flash on the big day for your best mate? Cue the seersucker suit.
Courtesy of www.frankstellanyc.com
A suiting staple in the southern gentleman’s wardrobe, seersucker suits have come to personify casual dapper, providing a relaxed, refined look that is both striking and elegant. Popularly worn on summer weekends, derby meets and other formal events such as dinner dances in college, a seersucker suit will ensure that you are dressed heads and shoulders ahead of your peers!
History of Seersucker
The term seersucker hails from India. At the time, India was ruled by the Mughal Empire, where Persian was the official language of the court. Subsequently, Persian was integrated into the local languages and helped define both Hindi & Urdu. The fabric was was colloquially referred to as ‘Shir-O-Shakar’, translating to Milk or Sugar in Persian – a nod to the contrasting nature of the fabric – smooth yet crinkled.
The crinkled cloth was initially adopted by the British Colonies at the turn of the 20th century, worn by laborers in warmer conditions. Functional seersucker clothing, including shirts, chore jackets, overalls and peaked hats were manufactured using heavier duty fabric.
At the start of the 20th century, seersucker was introduced to the United States by specialist seersucker makers Haspel – branded as the ultimate summer fabric. Emanating from the New Orleans jazz movement, seersucker suits became synonymous with southern states.
Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
While seersucker suits migrated their way to Ivy League and were subsequently labelled as preppy, seersucker suits have become a mainstay in the Southern United States.
Seersucker is a light weight, crinkled, striped (mostly!) summer fabric comprising of puckered cotton. This fabric composition allows air into the material, allowing you, the wearer, to keep cool in warmer climate conditions. While typically utilized within the framework of a suit, seersucker can also be worn as a sports jacket.
While the name seersucker has largely become synonymous with it’s striped (and most popular!) variants, seersucker jackets are also available in gingham, checkered, solid and motif patterns (e.g stripes with a repeating theme motif, such as sports apparel or leisurely hobbies!). Please note that for the purpose of this guide, we are primarily referring to the striped variant of the Seersucker suit, given that it is the most widely adopted variant of this exquisite fabric.
Seersucker can be offered in a wide range of patterns! Courtesy of www.chienvert.com
The most widespread version of seersucker is striped in blue and white, although there are many color combinations. With white being the mainstay, alternating color pairings can include pink, yellow or even green. Upon further examination of seersucker fabric, one will notice smooth stripes contrasting with coarser stripes. This results in a crease free combination of smooth and rougher stripes.
This effect of smooth / coarse was originally manufactured using alternating silk and cotton warps. When laundered, the cotton shrank, while the silk remained intact, creating the characteristic wrinkles the fabric is well known for. In contemporary manufacturing, cotton instead of silks are used, with variations in warm tensity utilized to create this effect.
This process is known as slack tension, and results in a crinkled, permanently puckered fabric that makes standard wrinkling appear less visible. As an unintended consequence, seersucker fabrics do not require ironing. In addition to the benefit of less creasing that alternative fabrics, the fabric puckering creates extra pockets of air that allow for improved air circulation, leading to a significantly more pleasant wearing experience.
Opt For Single Breasted
Contemporary seersucker suits are understandably offered as single breasted with two or three buttons, given the more casual nature of the fabric.
Courtesy of www.danielrecollection.com
However, some dapper gents choose to opt for a double breasted seersucker jacket or a three piece single breasted jacket. If you do have a tendency to sweat more profusely than others, we would highly suggest going against this temptation!
While Seersucker Suits are primarily seen as single breasted, double breasted jackets can work wonders for those bold enough! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Seersucker suits are typically offered with center vents, notched lapels and flap pockets. Other than notched lapels, which are best worn with less than completely formal settings (think black tie), we would suggest the following adjustments:
- Side Vents are more appropriate given ease of pocket access.
- While flap pockets look great stylistically, they add extra fabric, and don’t align with the casual nature of a seersucker suit. We would therefore suggest going with a flap pocket instead.
When To Wear Seersucker
Seersucker is a fantastic fabric that can provide much needed wardrobe versatility. From strutting a full seersuck suit, to wearing a jacket as a pair of separates (with non seersucker pants), there are a plethora of ways to don this dapper fabric.
With regards to seasonality, seersucker, as mentioned above, is best reserved for warmer seasons. This is obviously derived from practical reasons, as strutting a seersucker suit in the winter months would leave you shivering!
Seersucker is most popular in regions with warmer climates year round – the American South West, The Caribbean and Mediterranean are a few regions that initially come to mind.
Seersucker suits are best worn in a celebratory fashion or for a special occasion, such as a friends beach wedding or the Kentucky Derby!
Strutting Seersucker at the Kentucky Derby, ‘tache and all! Courtesy of www.timesfreepress.com
Seersucker Suit Fit
Fit is of paramount importance when trying on any suit, and seersucker is no different. In fact, given that seersucker jackets are typically unlined (keeping in line with the notion that they are best used during warmer seasons – and unlined jackets help with that by reducing the weight of the jacket), fit is even more critical.
An unlined seersucker jacket that is not of a slimmer fit will droop and not drape, leaving you looking like a man child in an oversized suit. And unless that’s your thing – we’d advise you to go with a well fitted jacket!
Seersucker Suits are typically unlined, making fit even more important. Courtesy of www.artofmanliness.com
Seersucker Suit Colors
While the seersucker suit has been largely popularized by the light blue and white striped variant, offerings in green or pink (along with white) can also work extremely well for a casual dapper look.
Pink seersucker is a sure fire way to look dandy! Courtesy of www.haspel.com
A favorite that often goes under the radar is the navy / white seersucker, which can work particularly well as a blazer on a scorching hot summer evening. Just lightweight enough for the summer, with just enough navy to make it look appropriate for evening wear. Now that’s a winning combination if I’ve seen one.
A Navy Seersucker Jacket provides for a seamless transition from day time to evening wear!
Seersucker Suit & Shirt Combinations
Given the striped nature of the fabric, a seersucker suit or jacket is best complemented by a solid, open weave fabric such as a white, light blue or light pink cotton or linen shirt. Patterned shirts with contrasting collars should be reserved for office wear and / or occasions that demand suiting on the more formal end of the spectrum.
Seersucker Suits are best worn with white or pastel colored shirts! Courtesy of www.frankstellanyc.com
Seersucker Suits, being of a more casual nature, are best complemented by accessories with similar connotations – those that exude relaxed dapper. As such, we would suggest the following:
Seersucker Suits & Ties
Linen, Cotton or Knit Ties. While linen & cotton are obvious choices given their lighter weight properties and that they often come in lighter pastel colors, knit ties (even those of a darker shade), can provide the perfect complementary piece with their casual dapper aesthetic.
Knit ties, typically constructed with square bottoms, provide an open, breathable fabric that don’t scream overtly formal, but provide just enough of a stepping stone into sartorial land, especially on a hot summer’s day.
Seersucker Suits are perfectly complemented by linen or cotton ties! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s exquisite range of Cotton Ties
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of stunning Silk Knit Ties
If you do insist on strutting a silk tie, we would suggest a printed silk tie, given its lighter weight properties than a woven jacquard silk tie. Additionally, printed silk ties are often made with more relaxing themes, such as ocean related, nautical, or country club sports including golf, tennis or croquet. These repeating motifs, that are usually only found with printed silk ties, also happen to be interesting conversation starters!
Given their casual nature, Seersucker Suits pair perfectly with printed silk ties with repeating motifs!
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Animal Printed Silk Ties
Seersucker Suits & Pocket Squares
While Silk Pocket Squares are ideal for dressing up a conventional suit, a linen or cotton pocket square can serve as the perfect accessory for a seersucker suit. Whether you are opting for a puff fold or something with a bit more shape to it, either fabric will provide you with a balance of rigidity / flexibility that allows for a range of pocket square folds.
A seersucker suit elegantly accessorized by a cotton pocket square! Courtesy of www.michaelandrews.com
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of stunning Silk & Linen Pocket Squares
Seersucker Suits & Lapel Flowers
Lapel flowers can work extremely well with seersucker suits! However, as is the case with shirts, we would suggest going with a solid colored lapel flower so as to avoid pattern overkill.
A Lapel Flower adds the perfect level of pop to this stunning Seersucker Suit! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of exquisite Lapel Flowers
Seersucker Suits & Socks
Sure, we’ve all heard the unwritten rule of matching the color of your socks to a color within your attire e.g blue socks with a blue & white seersucker suit jacket. However, given that seersucker implicitly (or explicitly) gives one more leeway than a traditional suit, we are huge advocates of strutting those colorful socks! Why not go for something with a funky design or theme to top it off – Seersucker Suits, are after all, meant to elicit an element of surprise and wonder.
Courtesy of www.artofmanliness.com
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Colorful Socks!
Seersucker Suits & Suspenders
Looking to really dress dandy with that Seersucker Suit? How about donning some fancy suspenders, provided your trousers come sans loops, of course.
Seersucker Suits & Belts
While a tan leather belt would most certainly look immaculate, now may be the time to experiment with those alternative fabric belts. Remember, wearing Seersucker essentially permits experimentation.
Courtesy of www.haspel.com
Seersucker Suits & Shoes
Nothing rounds off an ensemble like a well curated pair of shoes, and Seersucker is certainly no exception. While we would avoid the most formal of shoes, such as oxford cap toes, more casual formal wear shoes, such as wingtip brogues in open (derby) or closed (oxford) lacing systems would be an ideal complement. Lighter colors such as tan, or even white, can work exquisitely with seersucker, enhancing that perfect summer vibe that your ensemble oozes.
White wingtip brogues rounding off a seersucker look. Courtesy of www.gentlemansgazette.com
Given the two nature of most Seersucker Suits (white / blue, white / pink etc..), we would refrain from choosing two toned shoes.
Alternatively, one can strut a pair of loafers, aligning with the overall relaxed vibe that the suit emits.
Additional Seersucker Clothing
While we have mentioned that wearing a seersucker jacket as a separate (with non matching trousers) is one way to delve into the seersucker game, there are alternative seersucker fabrics out there, that disassociate from the traditional suit paradigm.
Not, not just the jacket of a seersucker suit. We’re referring to actual Harrington or bomber jackets. Yes, you read that right. Replace leather with seersucker, and you’re in for one heck of a surprise.
Elevate your game with a seersucker bomber jacket! Courtesy of www.mrporter.com
These jackets are the perfect transitionary item to take you from day time into the evening. Looking for pairing options? Look no further than a smart pair of shorts, dark denim or chinos.
While we strongly advise against these shirts with a seersucker suit (unless of course, you’re trying to induce an LSD kaleidoscopic effect), seersucker shirts on their own work wonders. Perfect for barbecues and summer days at the beach, these shirts provide that perfect relaxed dapper vibe when paired with smart shorts.
A pink checkered seersucker shirt provides for a great relaxed vibe! Courtesy of www.lookastic.com
In conjunction with options above, seersucker shorts are an ideal way to elevate your summer wardrobe attire. Slot two standard blue / white & blue / pink striped seersucker shorts into your wardrobe, and you’ve just instantly upped your summer style game!
Looking to infuse your style game with some additional preppy wear? Courtesy of www.pipingprints.com
Alright, so that was a ton of information to digest. Below is a summary of salient points from this guide:
- With a name hailing from India, the name Seersucker has been derived from the phrase ‘Shir-O-Shakar’, which translates to milk and sugar – a nod to the smooth yet crinkled nature of this fabric
- Seersucker is a light weight, crinkled, striped (though it is sometimes offered in solid or checkered patterns) summer fabric comprising of puckered cotton. This fabric composition allows air into the material, allowing the wearer to remain cool in warmer conditions. Additionally, Seersucker can be worn as a separate (with non matching trousers).
- Seersucker suits are best worn in a celebratory fashion or for a special occasion, such as a friends beach wedding or the Kentucky Derby!
- Given the lighter, unlined nature of Seersucker Jackets, fit is of paramount importance, as the fabric doesn’t drape as well as it’s fully lined counterparts (e.g woolen suits). Com
- While seersucker has been popularized by its blue & white striped variant, the fabric is available in other colors such as pink / white or even green / white!
- When wearing a Seersucker Jacket, it is best paired with a solid white or pastel colored shirt, as patterned shirt fabrics will create a jarring contrast.
- Seersucker Jackets / Suits are best accessorized with summery fabrics, such as a linen or cotton ties and pocket squares. Additionally, this article of clothing can be perfectly rounded off with a lapel flower.
- Additionally, colorful socks are the perfect complement to a Seersucker Suit, helping accentuate the relaxed dapper vibe that seersucker suits ooze.
- Seersucker Suits are best worn with relaxed dapper shoes, such as tan or white wingtip brogues!
- Looking to incorporate seersucker into your wardrobe without embracing the suit or sports jacket? How about a Seersucker Bomber Jacket, Seersucker Shirts or Seersucker Shorts!
And that’s a wrap for this one. We hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as we have writing it!