Seasonal Shirts: Seersucker

Traditional summer shirt, updated style.

From the Hindu sīrsakar which borrowed from the Persian word shīroshakar, meaning “milk and sugar” (a reference to the two different textures, one smooth, the other puckered), seersucker has a long history of keeping us cool. The colonial Brits figured out early on that the fabric was perfect for hot locales. And from the outer reaches of the Empire, it was a quick jump to the former colony here in the States.

Seersucker quickly caught hold here in the south before our Civil War and anywhere where men (and women — see USMC, Women’s Reserve, WWII and “Candy Striper”…) worked in hot and humid conditions.

Yes, worked.

Seersucker, made from cotton, was a working man’s fabric until the early 1900’s when Joseph Haspel started making seersucker suits in New Orleans. The Ivy League kids picked it up in the ’20s. Brooks Brothers took note in the ’30s. Miles blew blue notes in Newport and birthed the cool of the seersucker suit on the cover of his live album in 1958. Seersucker was, by then, an American Classic.

Yes, it still comes in blue and white. But it doesn’t have to…

Today’s seersucker is a relevant now as it was then, with some improvements. The traditional puckering that results from the way the warp and weft are woven makes a series of channels that let air flow easily around the wearer, keeping you cool. That natural puckering also makes seersucker easy-care. Don’t starch it to death, it defeats the genius of the design. Just wash, touch up and go. Add a tiny bit of elastane to the cotton and it’s even easier wearing and more packable.

What more do you need in a summer shirt? How about a more modern palette? Thinner stripes, darker colors, solids, checks… they’re all here. Make up a few and wear them with any trousers, or shorts, from the backyard BBQ, to the beach, to your casual days at the office.

Call us at 804.928.7946 to discuss styling options like your favorite kind of collar, roll to button sleeves, color matched buttons, pop-overs, polos … and even suits. Seersucker is always cool.

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