How to Wear a Seersucker Suit (Without Looking Like Your Grandpa)
The seersucker suit is no longer your grandpa’s go-to for formalwear. A seersucker suit used to be something you would wear to the Kentucky Derby, to your barbershop quartet practice, or to court if you were a Southern lawyer in the 1920s. This textured lightweight fabric suit has come quite a long way from its humble beginnings. The traditional seersucker fabric hails from India, where it was known as shir-o-shakar, which in Persian means “milk and sugar.” The name evolved over time and by the 18th century it became known as the “sea sucker,” and later “seersucker,” says Details.
Today, the seersucker suit makes for an ideal spring and summer suit, and is perfect for occasions ranging from weddings to everyday work attire. The smooth-and-crinkled stripe texture of the fabric itself is achieved by means of a slack-weaving technique that alternates tightness and slack of the weaves, which creates the classic flat and puckered stripes. Warm weather is usually associated with seersucker season. Men’s Health says that the reason is the cotton fabric and the smooth-and-puckered stripe texture that keeps the light fabric away from your sweaty skin during the warmer months, helping to boost air circulation and heat dissipation. It moves, breathes, and wears wrinkles well — mainly because it starts off wrinkled.
If you’re not familiar with the seersucker suit, it’s probably because it’s the type that waxes in trendiness and is worn mostly by men who simply like the style. If the seersucker has piqued your interest, know that above all else, it must fit properly. In addition, here are a few other things to keep in mind.
When to wear it
Seersuckers are most appropriate during the hot weather months, says The Art of Manliness. In most workplaces, the seersucker suit may feel a little out of place, but if your company culture is more laid-back, they may fit in fine. Be advised though, they’re generally not a great choice for when you’re trying to make a serious impression. For that, you’re going to want to opt for a regular fitted wool suit for a more put together and structured look.
How to choose the right fabric
Not all seersuckers are created equally, says designer Sam Shipley, one half of the designing duo Shipley & Halmos to Men’s Health. “Look for something with a nice density where the high/low effect creates lots of puckering,” he suggests. “So much of what you’ll find these days is flat and thin, which comes off as too drapey.” Shipley recommends opting for suits from brands like Bonobos, Haspel, Michael Kors, and Calvin Klein Collection, which offer superior texture as well as a modernized take on the classic.
Fit and color
When it comes to wearing any suit in general, fit is the most important factor, but when you’re choosing a seersucker, it’s even more important because the material of the suit is soft and lacks natural structure. If it doesn’t fit you properly, it’s going to drape off your body like a hanging sheet. When having it tailored, The Art of Manliness says to keep in mind that the seersucker suit does not lend itself to being slim fitted, so it will have to be worn a little baggier than you might normally wear your suits.
When it comes to color, the traditional seersucker suit is blue-and-white wider striped, but comes in many different varieties: brown on white, gray on white, and white on white. Men’s Health notes that the key to keeping the suit contemporary is to choose unexpected hues in thinner stripes, such as solid navy, black, gray, or beige — rather than sticking the the classic pastel — to make sure you don’t end up looking like your grandpa. The thinner stripes give the suit a more modern appearance and, from far away, make the suit appear to be a solid color. If you’re looking to stand out from the crowd and come across as trendier, try an avant garde hue like green, yellow, or pink if that’s your ultimate goal.
The finishing touch: Accessories
When it comes to pulling off the seersucker suit, accessories can really be the deal breaker in pulling it off. Choosing the right accessories is essential because the wrong ones can leave you looking like you’re wearing a costume or stepped off the set of a period piece, says The Art of Manliness. That said, to pull off the suit properly, make sure you choose only one traditional accessory, and allow the rest of your outfit to consist of your normal go-to suit accessories, like a simple solid cotton shirt or knit/linen tie classic, with a pair of loafers you would normally wear with your suits.
Some traditional seersucker accessories include: white bucks (shoes), suspenders (red is the most traditional color), and bow ties (which will give you the traditional Southern look, but a necktie is more subdued). Lastly, the traditional “rules” for wearing a seersucker suit suggest matching the color of your sock to either color stripe in the suit, so if you wear a traditional blue-and-white, then you would wear either blue or white socks. That said, due to the casualness of the suit, you have more wiggle room to play around with your sock color — keep it neutral or bust out the brightly patterned socks, but don’t go sockless; the suit is way too casual for that.