The History of Seersucker Suits

Everything you need to know about seersucker fabric

Traditional suits and blazers are excellent, stylish pieces to have in your wardrobe. However, as temperatures rise around the Dallas metroplex, many men wonder how they can dress their best while staying cool. Seersucker fabric is an excellent option for casual gentlemen wanting to look sharp, even during sweltering temperatures. Please keep reading to learn more about seersucker and its rich history.

What is Seersucker?

When people first become interested in seersucker, they often are unsure if the term refers to a style or pattern. However, seersucker is a lightweight, durable, and comfortable fabric. It has a puckered, crinkled texture and is 100% cotton. Although, some tailors will include silk or linen stripes to create an elevated, stylish flair.

Seersucker’s unique stitching makes it cooler than standard cotton garments and an excellent option as temperatures rise. It comes in an array of colors, but we often see them in pastels. The light hues of green, pink, and yellow complement the warmer spring and summer seasons when men typically wear seersucker fabric.

Where Did Seersuckers Originate?

While many people associate seersucker fabric with country clubs and traditional southern style, it actually originated in India. Seersucker first appeared in the 1600s through the East India Company. It originally had light tan and white stripes, which gave the appearance of alternating cane sugar and milk. Merchants at trading posts called this unique style “shirushakar,” which means “milk and sugar” in Persian.

Centuries later, European men latched onto this fabric after realizing it was the perfect summer clothing material. Europeans changed the name from “shirushakar” to “seersucker” to simplify the pronunciation. Once seersucker grew in popularity across Europe, it eventually crossed the ocean and made its way to the United States in the early 18th century. Many Americans enjoyed its light, breathable texture. While seersucker was widespread in warmer, southern cities, it was not considered a formal style for many years.

History of Seersuckers in the United States

Men would wear seersucker in the summer while they worked manual labor jobs in the United States. Laborers in the oil fields and railroad industry would wear jackets, shirts, overalls, and hats made of seersucker due to its breathability and comfort. However, formal occasions still required a dark, traditional suit.

Despite its humble beginnings, seersucker went through a cultural shift in 1903. Joseph Gurney Cannon, a United States House of Representatives speaker, wore a striped seersucker suit to meet President Roosevelt. This choice was a controversial fashion statement, and many were surprised to see seersucker at such a formal, important event. However, Mr. Cannon was confident in his decision and stated that the weather was too hot to wear any other suit.

Rise in Popularity

Joseph Haspel Sr., an American haberdasher, followed in Mr. Canon’s footsteps in 1909 by crafting seersucker suits for businessmen in New Orleans. He wanted to develop an innovative outfit that would keep professional men cool in the humid New Orleans heat — and look stylish at the time.

While attending a convention in Boca Raton, Florida, Haspel waded into the ocean on a hot day. However, he did so without taking off his seersucker suit, and the ensemble became entirely saturated. He hung his suit to dry in his hotel room, then put it back on for a banquet that same evening. People were amazed that his suit could dry quickly and still look good — even after soaking in the ocean.

While more people caught onto seersucker suits, it was still less popular than traditional suit materials. The fabric was widespread in hot, southern states, but its fame had not caught on in the north. However, in 1930, seersucker spread throughout the country. More people began to realize the benefits of seersucker, and its popularity exploded. East coast intellectuals, celebrities, and diplomats began wearing seersucker suits during the summer.

To this day, seersucker remains a popular, fashionable material that men enjoy throughout the hotter seasons. However, knowing how (and when) to style seersucker is essential. Summer is quickly approaching — Let’s explore everything you need to know about seersucker so you can prepare your wardrobe accordingly.

When is it Appropriate to Wear a Seersucker Suit?

Try wearing a seersucker suit at your next outdoor event. Labor Day, Memorial Day, and church events are all excellent opportunities to show off your style. Outdoor weddings are also a good time to break out your favorite seersucker pieces. Make sure you do not wear a suit or sport coat with too much white, though. Always try to stick to pastel seersucker fabrics when attending weddings.

While there are many occasions where you can show off your style in a seersucker suit, there are a few events where you should opt for traditional, formal attire. Black-tie events often require tuxedos and sleek, upscale accessories. Also, steer clear of seersucker in business-professional offices and when attending job interviews. Pay close attention to the dress code and expectations before attending any formal indoor events. Seersucker is a stunning material that can make an incredible statement, but you should only wear it at the appropriate times.

Does Seersucker Get Wrinkled?

Seersucker became popular among workers and travelers because it does not get noticeable wrinkles — because it is already wrinkled intentionally. The puckered texture is the result of a slack-tension weave. Some yarns are tighter than others which causes the fabric to pucker and create a crinkled texture. These warps run vertically, and the filler weft yarns run horizontally.

This texture is precisely what makes seersucker so great. It can be washed, packed, and worn without taking on noticeable wrinkles that would be glaringly obvious on a smooth, traditional suit. Seersucker’s texture also contributes to its breeziness and stability.

How Do I Style Seersucker?

There are countless ways to style this trendy, unique fabric. We recommend rocking a seersucker suit at more formal outdoor events, like weddings. Add personalized details, such as a colorful pocket square, to spruce up your ensemble. Solid-colored dress shirts and bow ties are also great additions to a pastel seersucker suit, and you can pick up everything you need at Culwell & Son. Our stylists can guide you through our vast selection of accessories to ensure you have everything you need to look stylish in your outfit.

You can even wear a seersucker sports coat with jeans, a cotton tee shirt, and sneakers to create a casual outfit. We guarantee you will feel cool, comfortable, and stylish at any outdoor event. Stop by Culwell & Son to find everything you need to complete your look. From designer jeans to luxurious athletic shoes, we will ensure you look fantastic, even on your days off.

What is the Difference Between Seersucker and Plissé?

Seersucker is often mistaken for plissé. While both create a wrinkled finish and provide a breathable, lightweight feeling, these fabrics are completely different. Plissé originated from Ancient Egypt and was an original symbol of power and nobility. It does not require the same complex stitching as seersucker, and a solution is applied to the fabric to create the crinkled effect. Because plissé is less durable, we recommend washing it by hand. While both materials have a stunning crinkled finish, we recommend seersucker if you want a longer-lasting material.

​​Seersucker Suits in Dallas-Fort Worth

Here at Culwell & Son, we understand the importance of staying comfortable and stylish — even on the hottest summer days. Our team is ready to help you construct an attractive ensemble that will keep you cool and comfortable. Please stop by today to meet our stylists.