Menswear: Seersucker

There is nothing more southern in my eyes than a man in a seersucker suit.  It is iconic southern style and the only thing that could make it better is if the suit accompanied a mint julep.

A little history on seersucker.  The Southern staple originated in 1907 when a New Orleans merchant began searching for a lighter-weight suit that could withstand the summer heat, humidity and sweat. The blue and white fabric was born, named “Seersucker” from the Persian for “milk and sugar” in homage to its textured weave.  Seersucker doesn’t stop at suits though.  Shorts, Shirts, vests and more are all available in the southern light weight fabric.  It is also available in a variety of colors like pink, red, yellow and green.  Even though Seersucker is a casual fabric when constructed correctly it can look very polished.

In March New Orleans Fashion Week had a presentation on Three Hundred Years of New Orleans Fashion.  One entire segment was dedicated to seersucker and it’s beauty….

Photo Credit Eduardo Benetiz

Some famous men who have donned a seersucker suit have included Gregory Peck, Jamie Foxx, Andre 3000, Ronald Reagan, Dustin Hoffman, Frank Sinatra just to name a few.

So what is seersucker exactly?

It takes a unique cotton weave to give seersucker it’s bumpy appearance.  In reality it is alternating smooth and textured stripes that achieve it’s signature look.  The pattern and lightweight fabric is what makes seersucker so cool and a much needed piece of clothing in a southern summer wardrobe.  The puckering of the fabric makes it stay further away from the body which leaves room for circulation.  It also is the reason that, if not tailored properly, seersucker can look messy.

How to wear it?

  • Seersucker suits are usually unlined to they will stay cool throughout the summer.
  • Seersucker is also a fabric that will wrinkle but the creases add to it’s charm.
  • Make sure that your suit has been altered to fit your shape.  It is very easy to look sloppy in seersucker being that the fabric is very light weight.
  • Many seersucker jackets will come with shoulder pads to keep the fabric from drooping on your body.
  • White bucs are the most traditional shoe to wear with seersucker.  You can also get away with a white penny loafer.
  • A bowtie will keep your look southern while a neck tie will be more subdued.
  • Pocket squares are a must as well as suspenders if you don’t have belt loops.

Where to Buy it?

Splurge – Nordstorm: $845

Save – Brooks Brothers: $498

Save – JOS A Bank: $598 (usually have a sale running.  Now it’s buy one get one free)

When to Wear it?

Traditionally seersucker is to be worn like white.  Easter to Labor Day.  But in the interest of it being warmer well into the fall I have seen mean wear the fabric through September.  Never after.

Whatever you do make sure that you let your personal style show.  Pocket squares, bright socks or a patterned belt.  Don’t let the pattern discourage you from being bright and bold.



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