How to wear a seersucker suit

28 September 2017

"Made from linen, cotton, silk and synthetic fibres, it's a lightweight, breathable fabric that wears well and needs minimal pressing to look its best."

It’s hard to imagine summer without a modern seersucker suit. A fresh look, seersucker fabric is a modern alternative to wool suiting in warmer months. A collegiate and sporty look, the striped fabric is a light-hearted approach to formal dressing, and it comes with a fascinating history dating back centuries.

First introduced by the East India Company to western civilisation through trade with the subcontinent in the 1600s, the unusual name originates from its Persian roots. Originally called shirushakar, the Persian portmanteau for 'milk and sugar', it was anglicised to become the word with which we're familiar today. This version appears on cargo ledgers dating back as far as 1694, meaning this versatile cloth is ancient by modern standards.

Before becoming a fabric associated with Gatsby-style, boater-wearing preps, it experienced a humble beginning in the working class. Known for its durability and lightweight, Joseph Haspel Sr. (founder of Haspel Clothing in New Orleans) created garments to be worn by all manner of professions. To keep workers comfortable during searing temperatures, seersucker has become coveralls for factory workers, been worn by nurses known as “candy stripers", and by locomotive drivers. Haspel Sr.'s enthusiasm for the fabric was met by detractors who didn't see seersucker's immediate benefits for men's attire. He famously wore it swimming in the ocean then hung it out to dry before wearing it again to an official banquet, still as pristine as when he started.

It was this rebellious nature that saw the development of the fabric into regular suiting by Ivy League students at Princeton who wore it as a kind of reverse snobbery, ushering in the demand for other pupils at other US colleges to follow suit, before its popularisation by Brooks Brothers in the 1920s. There the trend stuck and the smart stripes became the staple in blue, grey, green, white and red.

To achieve the milk-and-sugar look of the two contrasting textures, twin-beam looms weave it at different speeds to give seersucker its hallmark stripes. Made from linen, cotton, silk and synthetic fibres, it's a lightweight, breathable fabric that wears well and needs minimal pressing to look its best. Versatile to the end, seersucker fabric is interchangeable: a seersucker blazer and pants look spectacular together or separately.

When planning your spring wardrobe, consider adding some seersucker. Oscar Hunt has a range of high-quality cloths for dapper gentlemen seeking some 1920s sophistication.

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