Why don’t more of y’all wear seersucker? As Southerners, it is just part of our DNA. It also makes a lot of simple sense. When it’s hot outside and you have to wear a suit, wear seersucker. It’s light, it breathes, it doesn’t wrinkle and it makes you look damn good.
The puckered cotton fabric known as seersucker was first developed in India sometime in the 19th century. The tough yet breathable material was ideal for laboring in hot temperatures. Seersucker eventually made its way stateside, where Haspel founder Joseph Haspel, Sr. adapted the fabric into a suit near the turn of the century. His goal? To help Southern men look fly without melting in the New Orleans heat. Yes, he said ‘fly’.
Over the next century, the breathable fabric, light color, and slimming vertical stripes would make summers much more comfortable and stylish for gentlemen around the world. The seersucker suit became the anti-pinstripe — something meant for distinguished men of leisure rather than high-powered soul-crushers of industry.
Just in case you still aren’t sold, we asked Laurie Haspel, the President and fourth-generation owner of Haspel to provide some tips on how to wear the South’s favorite fabric.
It’s all about the fit
A seersucker suit must fit right. Even more than most suits. Those famous stripes are like runway lights for a bad fit. If your jacket is too bulky or your pants are too long, people will notice.
First, invest in a suit that suits your body type. At Haspel, our suits are trim but not skinny so it fits lots of different guys well. We’re proud of that. Each brand’s suit has its own personality. Ours has a shorter jacket and higher armhole and is a bit tapered through the chest. Basically, that means it’s got shape.
Then, invest in a tailor. Actually, make friends with a tailor, someone who knows how to perfect clothes on your body. They will make an already good suit look great.
Related: National Seersucker Day
What to wear with my suit?
I love tradition, but I’m equally as fond of a twist. I see guys rockin’ a seersucker suit with a crisp white or pink shirt, bucks, a boater and bow tie. That is the full look. It’s participating in a legacy that I love and my family helped create. If you dress your seersucker in that way I promise you will always be as cool as the underside of the pillow.
But, a seersucker suit is really a great canvas. You can wear it with lots of things. It looks relaxed and sharp with a great navy blue polo and loafers. I also love it with a perfect white T-shirt and trainers or even Chuck Taylors if you are young enough or young at heart. An open shirt and white pocket square is fresh too. I like having no break on the pants so you show a little ankle. Beyond bucks, a chukka boot or Chelsea boot can work too. Just look for a lighter color in suede or leather.
Think separates! Seersucker doesn’t need to be worn as a suit. Break up the jacket and pants for more versatility. I love a seersucker coat with white pants or jeans; a beat-up denim jacket, crisp white shirt and seersucker pants also looks killer. You don’t need to wear seersucker head to toe. Repeat, you don’t need to wear seersucker head to toe.
Beyond the suit
We all know the seersucker suit. It’s classic and everyone should own one (at least one!). But seersucker, like cotton or wool, is really just a fabric that can be used in lots of different types of clothing. It’s great for lots of things because it is lightweight, breathable and has that iconic pucker. We make seersucker into great button down shirts; we use it on details on our tees; this season we even made seersucker into a navy bomber jacket. It’s one of my favorites. We have a navy seersucker tux that is beyond stylish.
This spring we have lots of ways to wear seersucker beyond the suit. In the fall, we make seersucker suits in wool and solid colors. Which definitely mix it up a bit.
Lots of brands are experimenting with the fabric, using it in untraditional ways. I applaud that! But remember, the “Haspel” is the original.