The trees and spring flowers are starting to bud along with the Seersucker season. Easter Sunday typically marks the launch of lightweight clothing, white shoes, bright colors, and that all-time gentlemen favorite the Seersucker suit, jacket or trousers. Here in Annapolis many get an early start as students and the community at large pack the front lawn of the St. John’s campus for a celebrated rite of spring: the Annual St. John’s – U.S. Naval Academy Croquet match. This year more than 3,500 attended in festive attire—top hats, seersucker, pearls, and feathered hats that rivals those of the Kentucky Derby. Visitors and clients stopped in to say hello and purchase bow ties for the occasion. With the Prep Revolution in men’s style showing no sign of abatement, we expect to see seersucker everywhere this spring and summer and not only in the South.
Seersucker hails from India, where it was known as shir-o-shakar, which in Persian means “milk and sugar” and probably represented the contrasting textures of the fabric: milk for the smooth and sugar for the crinkle. The term evolved in the 18th century to become sea sucker, and later seersucker. The fabric is usually 100 percent cotton, and its smooth-and-crinkled striped texture is achieved through a slack-weaving technique in which the alternating tightness and slack of the weaves creates both flat and puckered stripes. Because of the texture, the fabric is mostly held away from the skin, which helps improve air circulation and heat dissipation. It moves, breathes, and wears wrinkles well.
Pulling off Seersucker in STYLE
Jacket Style – 1, 2 or 3 buttons in a single or 4 buttons in double-breasted, you can’t go wrong with any one of these styles depending on your body figuration. We prefer a 2-button jacket on most men, but 3-button and double-breast look good on taller gentlemen.
Color – Blues, Yellows, Greens or Lavender are all great seersucker colors, but for the first purchase we always encourage our clients to stick with the traditional blue. The other colors are supplemental luxuries.
Trouser Style – Flat fronts or a single pleat are the way to go. Many modern gentlemen are doubling down and adding a pair of shorts with the suit that creates a versatile look especially if the summers bring extreme heat. .
Cuffs or no cuffs – The choice is yours but if the choice is no cuffs be sure to ask for a reinforced hem that allows for a nicer fall in the leg, cuffed trousers already have the extra weight built-in.
Cut and Fit – We always recommend suppressing the waist slightly to give the jacket shape and a nice fitted look. Sleeve length should hit at the hinge of your wrist.
Shirt Selection – A bright white cotton or linen collared shirt is the color that best compliments seersucker and provides the most comfort as the weather heats up.
Shoes of Choice – The White Buck or Saddle Oxford always look great. Avoid loafers or sandles at all cost.
Belt, No Belt or Braces – Feel free to bring a pop of color to the waist line with a web belt or opting for a natural leather braided or plain is certainly nice. Our clients seem to also like the seersucker trouser with no belt loops utilizing side adjustable tabs. Braces can also add a nice crisp look without the constricted cinch of a belt.
Socks or no socks – As soon as the weather heats up leave the socks at home, until then allow your personality to be on display with a fine colorful pair of hose that matches one of the stripes.
Watch – When we asked our friends at Liljenquist & Beckstead what they would pair with a seersucker suit they suggested a timeless steel Rolex Datejust with an Oyster Bracelet for this summer. Nothing looks better peeking out of a seersucker sleeve than a fine time piece.
One final word, a misconception is that seersucker is a cooler suit for summer. Yes, seersucker is a light weave and yes the light color reflects the sun, but a suit jacket is still constructed of layers of fabric inside to give it that sturdy feel. Hence, the natural characteristic of the fabric is neutralized. It does not breathe anymore. You’ll still be hot and trapped in a suit unless you opt for a half lined coat that will allow for the coat to breathe. If not, this is when you will want to consider a light linen dress shirt. Oh, and walk slowly so as not to break a sweat and always, always follow the shade line of trees and buildings. Enjoy.