With the sweltering summer months practically knocking down the door and all those formal summertime events ahead, you may be experiencing that familiar feeling of dread. “What can I possibly wear in the heat,” You cry, “Without sacrificing my appearance or experiencing a heat stroke?” Enter: The seersucker suit.
Don’t let the name fool you – this piece isn’t quit as flamboyant and ‘out there’ as it sounds! When it comes to summer-ready suits, this bad boy is as classic as it gets.
What is Seersucker, Anyways?
Crated using a unique cotton with a woven puckered appearance, seersucker fabric often features vertical pinstripes. It is lightweight and breathable enough to wear in the hot, hot heat. The puckering allows for better air circulation while you wear it – who would’ve thought?
Originally made popular during the British Colonial Period, seersucker was once worn by laborers and servants in India to fight the heat. The name seersucker actually comes from the Persian “shir o shakkar” or “shir o sheker,” meaning “milk and sugar.” This comes from the alternating smooth and textured stripes that naturally occur in seersucker fabric.
After it was brought to the Americas in the 19th century, it first became associated with blue collar workers, as it was often railroad and oil workers who sported this fabric on the job. However, this whole opinion on seersucker was turned on its head when designer Joseph Haspel crafted the first seersucker suit in a sharp style that high-class gentlemen could wear around sweltering New Orleans. Soon the style evolved and became accessible for all classes and was sported by white and blue-collar workers alike.
How to Style a Seersucker Suit
Like all clothing, it all really comes down to how you wear it. When styled incorrectly, a seersucker suit can quickly take a downward turn, looking more like fancy pajamas or an outdated costume. But when done right, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that looks more clean-cut and debonair, regardless of the occasion.
So, let’s discuss some areas where it’s common for gents to trip up in styling their seersucker suit…
ISSUE #1 – THE FIT
Having an improper fit is the easiest way to make the nicest seersucker suit look cheap and haggard. Like any suit, always opt to have it tailored to fit your body in a flattering way to keep your appearance sharp and polished.
ISSUE #2 – THE FABRIC QUALITY
Because of the manufacturing process, true seersucker is very difficult and expensive to make. Some companies do try to cheat this system, creating cheap imitations that look horribly bargain-basement. Always make sure that you are buying the real deal when it comes to seersucker – the fabric texture, print, and pucker will tell the real story.
Seersucker fabric should feel soft to the touch with a slight pucker to it. If you find yourself trying on a stiff seersucker suit or one that looks overly rumpled, it’s probably not the highest quality. Additionally, pay attention to the print – seersucker suits typically have a preppy striped pattern to them. If the striping of the suit looks mismatched or warped due to the pucker, it could be just another imitation.
ISSUE #3 – NOT PAIRING YOUR PIECES CORRECTLY
When it comes to sporting a seersucker suit, there are a few key pieces that you should be wearing: a blazer, pants, and a simple white shirt. Of course, you can switch up the white shirt depending on how casual you want your appearance to be, but this paired with a white shirt should be the default way to wear a seersucker suit.
ISSUE #4 – THE WRONG ACCESSORIES
When it comes to wearing a seersucker suit, how you coordinate your accessories can make or break your look. Here are some quick and easy tips for pairing them perfectly with your favorite seersucker suit.
Shoes and Socks
Look for something more traditional and understated with this type of suit or else you’ll risk looking costume-y. Spectators or penny loafers are a great option when it comes to footwear. If you want to go super casual, throw on a pair of clean sneakers.
With this type of suit, you can totally skip the traditional ‘match your socks to the color of your suit’ rule. Because it’s so casual, feel free to bust out those crazy patterned socks that otherwise wouldn’t get too much love. Whatever you do, don’t skip the socks – you are wearing a suit, after all!
Belts and Suspenders
Feel free to go as casual or as formal as you’d like here – seersucker goes with any type of belt!
Bowties and Ties
Good news, guys – you can totally pick either here. A bowtie has a more traditional look where a tie will have you looking more dapper and subdued. Whichever your poison, they’ll work like a charm with a seersucker suit.
ISSUE #5 – WHERE YOU WEAR IT
Not so much a fit or styling issue, where you wear your seersucker suit can be a one-way street to problem city. This piece will likely be out of place in most modern professional offices unless you’re somewhere a little more laidback with the dress code. Try wearing this style of suit to an outdoor event, such as a semi-formal summertime wedding or graduation instead.
All in all, it really doesn’t take any sort of special flair to pull off a seersucker suit. This totally versatile fabric is perfect for the heat of the summer months ahead and offers endless mix-and-match opportunities. Just be yourself and don’t be afraid to play around with your look and you’re totally set for anything that comes your way.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was updated August 7, 2018.