Traditionally a preppy staple of the American South rather than a fixture of the Australian summer, seersucker — the unique lightweight cotton weave that’s perfect for the sultry summer months — is finally finding its way into vogue in 2017.
This summer is all about statement jackets so seersucker’s vertical stripes, especially in summery hues like powder blue and light grey, fit the bill — pairing beautifully with a coloured chino in shades of orange and red, which is another big trend of the season.
What is it?
Seersucker originated in British colonial India and its name comes from the words for milk and sugar, referring to the contrasting textures of the cotton. The slack-tension weave bunches the threads together to create the bumpy appearance that doesn’t need to be ironed, and the rippled texture means garments sit just off the skin, making them cool and breathable.
The puckered fabric left India for the United States in the 19th Century and soon became a favourite in the sweltering South — think every railroad worker you’ve ever seen in an old-timey cartoon, or Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. More recently, the Australian Olympic team even donned green and white seersucker blazers by Sportscraft at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Games.
How to style it
A full seersucker suit can make it look like you’re dressing up for a costume party, so make a statement with individual items instead — we’re talking a pair of shorts with a crisp collared shirt, or a jacket dressed down with a bright T-shirt for a pop of colour. A classic pocket square complementing the fabric’s trademark blue and white stripes helps inject personality into the blazer, which can also be accessorised with hats and sunglasses at this time of year.
A jacket’s fit is always important but it’s especially critical for this striped, wrinkled weave — too big and seersucker hangs off your body like a pair of pyjamas (trousers will also be looser than the tighter modern style but they shouldn’t be so big they resemble clown pants), too small and you don’t get that relaxed vibe you’re going for.