Think of the pale blue and white striped suit and your mind is immediately cast to the southern states of the USA and seersucker suited men lounging on a porch sipping iced tea and drawling wisdom. It is that movie image that generally sticks, but it is rarely seen on the streets of London or New York during the summer months. A Seersucker suit is a bold statement and it takes some courage to wear it above the Mason-Dixon line in the USA, and even more courage on the streets of Europe. I wonder why… But first, a little history. The origins of the seersucker cloth date back to India. It takes it’s name from a bastardisation of the Persian phrase ‘Milk & Sugar’, which in turn was mangled by the English to form the word Seersucker. It was named this because of the puckered texture of the cloth, which makes the fabric light and airy but gives it a slightly crumpled look. Usually made purely of cotton, it has been made with blends of linen over time.
It was taken on by the British East India company as a cloth in the 18th century, and went on to to drape Victorian Gentlemen in both England and the USA. Indeed, Brooks Brothers, the US retailer, says that it was selling it to gentlemen throughout the 1800s.
For all this, it was generally seen as a poor man’s suit up until the 1930s when a group of Princeton students and famous Hollywood Actors started to wear the suits and it’s seal of approval was given by the notable fashion leader Edward, Duke of Windsor, when he wore one in the Bahamas. Its popularity rose until the 1960s when the change in style and the modern world did not seen seem to fit with the loucheness of the Seersucker.
We think it should make a come back to the summer streets, it is a wonderful suit for the climate and adds a splash of colour and style to your wardrobe for this time of year.
Seersucker is mostly the white and blue striped variety, but it comes in many other variations to go with the white stripe, such as, pink, red, green, yellow and even some bolder colours still. You can purchase off the peg from a number of stores, such as Brooks Brothers in the USA and UK and indeed Marks & Spencers in the UK has tended to stock it in the last few summer seasons.
You can wear the full suit and pair it with a tie, especially to formal occasions. I would go with a bold single colour tie and pocket square with a white shirt. Or indeed you can mix and match the trousers with another jacket or the jacket with another pair of trousers. As for shoes, you can go formal with a tan pair or a pair of correspondents with white in them, or more casual with a driving moccasin of an appropriate hue.
Why not step out this summer in style with a bold new look and let’s sip iced tea in our seersuckers in the parks of London and New York.