Looking for a go-to suit that’s adaptable and won’t have you feeling the heat this summer? Swot up on our Seersucker Suit style guide and learn how you can not only look cool but keep cool too.
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With summer practically on your doorstep and an abundance of weddings, graduations, or parties lined up on the horizon, you might be looking at your wardrobe in dismay, wondering how on earth you’re going to keep yourself looking dapper without melting in the summer heat.
But fear not Idle Men, we’re here to save the day and prove to you that the dashing Seersucker is a suit that absolutely belongs in your wardrobe. Whilst you might be concerned that the Seersucker Suit is a little old-fashioned or garish, with the correct styling, fit, and accessories, you’ll soon find that it is the perfect addition to your wardrobe and will instantly become a summer staple. If you’re sat wondering what on earth a Seersucker Suit actually is, prepare to be en-lightened…
What is a Seersucker Suit?
If you head on over to Urban Dictionary you might come across this definition
A suit worn in the American south that is typically defined by small blue to navy vertical stripes on a white background.
However, the term Seersucker actually refers to the type of fabric used to make the suit, as opposed to any colour or pattern. So whilst the pinstripes are a hallmark of the classic Seersucker style, the suit also comes in an array of colours and patterns, such as gingham and plaids.
The fabric is usually made from 100% cotton, making it a thin, light, and unstructured material. The cotton is weaved together in a unique way (called slack tension weave for the extra studious among us) to create a puckered effect and a wrinkled appearance.
The combination of the light weight cotton and puckered weaving is what creates the cooling effect – which the Seersucker Suit is so well known for. As the material does not cling to your body it allows for easy air circulation making it perfect for hot climates or the summer months.
As it is naturally rumpled the great news is that you don’t have to iron it. Yes, you did read that right! A suit that doesn’t even need ironing, making it perfect for your travels…or if you’re just super lazy. It’s also easily washed – what more can we say? The Seersucker Suit is practically perfect.
Seersucker Style Guide
Despite the Seersucker Suit being considered an American classic, it’s safe to say that the style has successfully made its way across the pond. Worn regularly by celebs, the Seersucker suit is alternative, functional, and easy to adapt to any situation.
Whilst originally worn as a full suit, the best way to successfully and confidently pull off a Seersucker Suit is to break the style up and instead focus on key pieces. It will also help you to avoid looking as though you’ve got lost on your way to a fancy dress party.
The Smart Seersucker Suit
Deciding on a colour is a good way to begin forming your outfit. The trademark colour for the Seersucker suit is blue and white stripes, a style which has a great summer feel. However, if you’re looking for something that looks less debonair and more grounded, then opting for a darker Seersucker Suit is definitely an awesome alternative.
A darker Seersucker Suit will also look fantastic in an office environment, and makes for a great power suit. Once you’ve found your Seersucker blazer and trousers to suit, couple it with a simple white shirt. If you want to increase the formality with a tie then scroll down to view some top tips on accessorising. But opting for a simple open buttoned shirt will help keeps this outfit looking smart, sharp, and effortless.
In terms of footwear, if you’re wanting to stick with the eye-catching Seersucker look then a pair of white or patterned brogues will help you achieve this. However, brown brogues will definitely help you to avoid over-working the style. So if you’re not looking for anything bold, then brown or black are your go-to colours for footwear. Generally, any formal shoes work well here, such as loafers, or Oxfords.
If you’re looking for a pop of colour or something a little more extravagant, incorporating a pastel or patterned shirt is the way to go. As with any style, it’s always best to be wary that the colours complement each other. Also, if you’re going with a patterned shirt that isn’t Seersucker, then try to ensure that the pattern is larger than that of the suits.
The Casual Seersucker Suit
Wearing a polo shirt is the perfect way to dress down a Seersucker suit and keep it looking impeccably casual. It is also a great example of how adaptable and flexible the Seersucker style truly is. By simply swapping from a white shirt to a polo shirt, or even a t-shirt, you can instantly transform the look from formal office wear, to classy casual evening attire. Try adding sunglasses and rolling up the sleeves on your Seersucker jacket to enhance some of that care-free swag.
As it is such a versatile suit, it really works with a number of footwear choices. Some slip-on trainers or even some suede brown shoes will help style the suit down without loosing any of the elegant and distinctive Seersucker look.
Separating the Seersucker
Even if you’re really not feeling the suit, there are still a number of ways that you can incorporate the Seersucker fabric into your warm weather wardrobe. Choosing one simple statement piece is effortlessly effective and keeps the look conservative yet sharp. If a Seersucker jacket appeals to you, this can easily be coupled with some chinos or khaki trousers. Add a simple t-shirt and you’re favourite trainers and you’re good to go.
The same effect can be achieved with a pair of Seersucker trousers, or even Seersucker shorts if you fancy getting your legs out. To really tone the formality down, try combining either the trousers or shorts with a pair of converse trainers and a simple shirt. The result? A look that’s distinctive, practical, and not too flashy either.
The most important element to creating any look that incorporates an item of Seersucker, is to make sure that the colours complement each other. Once you’ve decided on your Seersucker jacket or trousers, base your accessories and shoes around that colour scheme. When it comes to accessorizing your Seersucker clothes, it’s also best to keep any additional fabric similarly lightweight.
If you’ve ever been a little nervous about accessorizing a suit, now is the perfect time to live a little and live loudly. The Seersucker is such a classic that a bow tie is almost a necessity and is instantly associated with the style. So if you’ve always wanted to wear a bow tie and have a Seersucker to hand then there’s never been a better time.
Not feeling the fancy? If a bow-tie is a bit much for you, a tie works equally well as a stylish companion for a formal occasion. Opting for a skinny tie will help to keep the outfit feeling contemporary and handsome. It’s also good to remember that if you’re opting for a dark coloured tie, then you should be looking to match it with some dark coloured shoes. A tie clip is also a nice addition to the look.
Hats are great to help maintain that chilled summer feeling and are ideal for hot summer weather. Luckily, the Seersucker suit goes hand in hand with a variety of them, (the Straw Hat, Fedora, Panama, even the trusty cap!), so you definitely don’t need to be picky when it comes matching headwear to your Seersucker Suit.
Other extras you might want to consider include: a brightly coloured belt, braces or some bracelets. Depending on the style you’re going for (be it casual or formal) these accessories can really help to bring the look together nicely.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with a classic pocket square either, particularly if you feeling a little daring and flamboyant.
Caring for a Seersucker Suit
As we mentioned earlier, the Seersucker Suit is absolutely perfect if you’re looking for an easy to keep suit. It doesn’t need ironing as it is naturally wrinkled, and taking care of the garment is a doddle. Make sure to follow the care instructions on the label, but generally avoid bleaching the fabric if it’s dyed. Wash on a cold wash and hang it up to dry. Simple!
Seersucker Suit History
When donning this classic suit you may well be bombarded with all sorts of fashion questions. After all, the Seersucker Suit is bold, prominent, and a little alternative and is sure to grab some attention. Understanding the history of the Seersucker Suit will certainly help improve your confidence when wearing it, so we’ve collected some basic facts to help you look extra knowledgeable. Whip these out when people query ‘the smartest cool suit, the coolest smart suit,’ and you’ll feel – and look – like a fashion god.
- The origin of the term Seersucker traces back to the Persian words: šir o šakar, meaning milk and sugar. This is referring to the rough and smooth stripes of the material in comparison to the textures of milk and sugar.
- Seersucker was popular in the British Colonial period in warm British colonies such as India.
- It was originally thought of as a poor man’s suit and was considered working class fabric worn by labourers (such as railroad workers or standard oil gas attendants). The Seersucker material helped to keep them cool, was cheap to produce, and was often worn in a Hickory Stripe style (dark blue).
- In 1909, Joseph Haspel used the fabric to create a more formal suit which would appeal to gentlemen looking to wear suits in hot climates.
- It wasn’t until the style was adopted by Princeton students in the 1920’s that seersucker suits really went mainstream. Worn first as an act of reverse snobbery by those 1920’s hipsters, it wasn’t long before others followed suit and soon the Seersucker Suit was declared ‘a badge of affluence,’ by columnist Damon Runyon (1945).
- In the US today there’s even a national day devoted to them – yes, National Seersucker Day. It began in 1996 and ran for 16 years. It has since been revived in 2014.
So, with Seersucker Thursday looming (June 11th 2016), it’s the perfect excuse to make some space for the Seersucker style in your wardrobe. And to help you pull it off with panache we’ve got some ultimate style tips below.
I have been wearing coats of the material known as seersucker around New York lately, thereby causing much confusion among my friends…they cannot decide whether I am broke or just setting a new vogue.
– Damon Runyon, Author, 1945.
Your Quick Guide on How to Wear a Seersucker Suit
If you’re looking for some super speedy Seersucker tips, take a look at some final pointers from Haspel designer Sam Shipley:
- Make sure it fits well and is tailored.
- Ensure that your sleeves are the correct height. The vertical stripes elongate the look and you don’t want to over-exaggerate this with any incorrect lengths.
- Keep Seersucker trousers ankle high and cuffed.
- Wear in your Seersucker shorts – the more casual and comfortable looking the better.
- Consider getting a genuine Seersucker Suit dry cleaned.
- Never wear a Seersucker tie with a Seersucker Suit.
- Look for high quality material.
(Interviewed by Liza Corsillio for GQ).
A Final Note
Regardless of how you decide to style your Seersucker Suit, the key to making an instant impression and maintaining your cool is wearing it with confidence. It’s a piece designed to be worn for pleasure – it’s playful and functional and will certainly bring out your inner gent. So chaps, what are you waiting for? Step out of the shade, release your inner dandy, and embrace the ultimately cool (in more ways than one) Seersucker Suit.