Photo by Salt Water New England

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

A Reader Question About Seersucker.


A reader question:

It is getting warmer and it will be hot and humid before we know it.  I will rotate in my seersucker button down shirts soon.  Where else do readers use seersucker?  I never quite considered a seersucker suit, and these days it seems unlikely I ever will, but who know about a blazer or trousers.  Any successes?  What about seersucker and short sleeves?


19 comments:

  1. I'm reluctant to comment, given that I've never had a seersucker suit. There is also pincord, a similar fabric. I don't know which might wear better.

    Men used to wear lighter color as well as lighter weight fabrics in warm weather. But lighter colors seem to be less common these days. I used to wear a tan poplin Brooks Brothers suit that I liked very much. Nowadays, one is apparently expected to wear the same weight suit year-round.

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  2. Seersucker can be used for almost anything. Suits, sport jackets, long sleeve or short sleeves shirts, long pants or short pants. Seersucker is one of the few ways to be well dressed in hot weather. Every year in June the senate has "seersucker day" when many senators wear seersucker suits. I think they look great. There is almost no wrong time for seersucker in the summer. Also, Tom Hagan (Robert Duvall) in The Godfather wore seersucker suits, a habit he presumably picked up as part of his Ivy League education. I always thought he was the "coolest" character.

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    1. The New York Times also observed a seersucker day when I was an intern in the summer of 1991. The tradition apparently has continued, at least through 2019, though as a Times editor notes here, almost no one there actually has any seersucker anymore: https://twitter.com/carolynryan/status/1142163137375981569

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  3. I’ve owned blue and white striped seersucker suits most of my life, and today still have an old one (they never go out of style) from Brooks Brothers. I rarely wear it, but when I do my chalked white bucks go with it. Very comfortable and timeless.

    https://www.brooksbrothers.com/madison-fit-stripe-seersucker-suit/MK00777.html?dwvar_MK00777_Color=BLUE

    Brooks Brothers also offers all sorts of other seersucker products for men, women and children.

    Now, if you’re really into seersucker, I advise you to take a look at Haspel – the New Orleans company that invented the cotton cloth. They have everything – including a black seersucker tuxedo (should you ever need one ??).

    https://www.haspel.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw5-WRBhCKARIsAAId9Fl4zXid4QQ2JlWPBdG5UJTP7rf96cc3OegIsLKifb8YSDqw9hYWhyYaAj6cEALw_wcB

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  4. Gentlemen: No short sleeves -- ever! Long sleeves cuffed up a roll or two much preferred by most ladies.

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    1. You mean we can't wear short sleeves with a plastic pocket protector stuffed with ten ballpoints?

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    2. It's funny -- that's exactly what I picture when I think of short sleeved shirts, particularly those in white or blue with button-down collars. That or the NASA engineers in the '60s.

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    3. I disagree. Wearing short sleeves is kind of like wearing a pink OCBD. It takes an unusual amount of self-confidence to wear something so decidedly un-macho.

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  5. BlueTrain, I wish Brooks still made that tan poplin suit. J. Press, for its part, still has one on offer every year. I wonder if your observation that people are nowadays expected to wear the same weight suit year-round could be traced to the decline of the suit in general: At this point, few people have any more than two suits in their closet, so they have to be workhorse suits, not seasonal specifics or casual-leaning suits like poplin. (Or seersucker.)
    My local haberdasher, John Helmer in Portland (the Oregon one), has a seersucker suit available for a surprisingly low cost. I'll probably get around to buying it one of these days, mostly to wear as separates. The whole suit at once might be a little too Kentucky Derby for me, but as separates I think seersucker is amazingly versatile. I wear my seersucker trousers in summer as often as I can find an excuse to.

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    1. It isn't that people are expected to wear the same weight suit year-round. It's just that so-called year-round suits are what is sold. Between climate-controlled interior spaces and well-heated cars, you don't really need a heavy suit or a really light weight suit. L.L. Bean in his little red book said for your hunting trip, wear you heaviest business suit from home. I think suits have a lot of life left in them. My old boss wore one every day at work. So did his boss, the owner, but he rarely wore a tie. Worldwide, suits are still worn by some. It's only the necktie that's too Western.

      Ah, the Kentucky Derby! We happened to be flying into Louisville sometime near Derby day when our son was at Ft. Knox. They pull out all the stops at the airport, with little string quartets and ladies giving out bourbon balls or whatever they were. Lots of hatboxes in sight.

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  6. Back when I lived in a suit, 1970's into the 2000's when business casual took over, almost all of my suits were what they called "three season" suits, spring summer fall, which I wore all year long. I had one summer suit, one winter suit, and maybe 10 all-year suits. The reason is that offices are heated and air conditioned. A winter suit in the office had you sweltering all day. A summer suit had you freezing at your desk.

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  7. I own three seersucker suits (gray & white, blue & white, tan & white, all from J. Press, purchased over a span of 20+ years) and wear at least two per week to work during the summer months. The suits are versatile because they can also be separated, and the pants worn casually with polo shirts (white and navy look best) and the jackets can be worn with khaki pants (this works better with blue & white seersucker). Even so, I tend to wear them primarily as suits, always with white dress shirts with button down collars, and often (but not exclusively) with bow ties. I have blue & white seersucker shorts for weekends, but no seersucker shirts. Interestingly, I have observed that the first day that seersucker is worn varies regionally. The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast adhere strictly to the Memorial Day starter's gun, but Southern cities have customs that suit their climates. I have seen seersucker in Louisville on the first Friday of May (at the Kentucky Oaks), in Richmond on the first Wednesday of May (at the Westhampton Citizens Association cocktail party), and in Birmingham and other Southern cities in church on Easter Sunday. On the back end, Labor Day is still the cutoff in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, but orange & white seersucker pants can been seen at pre-game tailgates in Knoxville well into October. In warm weather, seersucker is a pleasure to wear, so a person need not be bound by the traditional Memorial Day to Labor Day limits.

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  8. I routinely wear a seersucker suit in August and September, once classes reconvene, and the weather is still (uncomfortably) warm. Get one. Wear it. Own it.

    Kind Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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  9. Seersucker can be a life saver in here in the South. Loved seeing my brother in his seersucker suit and bowtie every Easter Sunday.

    When I think of a seersucker suit, I think of Matlock. The TV character started out wearing seersucker suits on camera but supposedly they didn't photograph well so he switched to a pale grey suit.

    I know this doesn't answer your question, but I have to say I like the refreshing look of seersucker on a hot sticky day.

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  10. Seersucker is about comfort in steamy weather. The planet ain’t getting any cooler…

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  11. Blue and white are a must! Thank you!

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  12. Roll with the 80 degree F rule. Plain common sense. Ancient B2 grey seersucker, Haspel khaki & olive. Refer to Life Magazine Cover March 20 1964...Henry Cabot Lodge wearing an olive poplin suit..maybe wearing Belgian loafers. 3/2 roll with open patch pockets. Looks impeccable pulling off that move.

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  13. I don't especially like the way that seersucker feels next to the skin, so as much as I admire them, I do not wear seersucker shirts. A rumpled seersucker sport coat, on the other hand, is de rigueur.

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  14. I own one seersucker suit and two pairs of separate pants. I find them indispensable in Texas when the heat index hits 363 in mid July. I will wear the pants with polo shirts and OCBD in white and various shades of blue. I am at that age in which I find myself invariably invited to two or three outdoor weddings for extended family every summer. My seersucker suit is my go to outfit for such an affair.

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