Saturday, May 17, 2014

Summer style - the seersucker.

 Blue and white striped seersucker blazer, a thin cotton shirt with a blue and slightly pink check, and a pair of selvage denims. Plus a pair of orange socks to add a splash of colour. Pair this with a Lambretta of your choice and you are good to go!

Summer has finally arrived in Sweden. Or at least late spring, which means that the weather is getting a lot warmer. I for one love that, since I do find the cold and dark winter somewhat of a downer. There is one major downside to summer though: for someone who likes to dress smart it get's a lot harder. At least if you don't feel like being soaked in sweat after just an hour outdoors.

Enter - the seersucker! Seersucker is actually not a suit in itself, it is the name of the material - a thin type of cotton, usually but not always in a white and blue (or red) stripe or checkpattern that is woven in a way that makes the threads bunch together and create a wrinkled appearance. That the fabric is rather thin, paired with the wrinkles, is what makes it ideal for a summer suit. It not only breathes, but the structure actually makes the fabric be held of from your skin, allowing air to sweep underneath as well as warmth to escape without causing ugly sweatstains.
Originally from India the materials original name is actually in Hindi: "keer aur shakkar", which means "rice pudding and sugar". It is generally believed to refer to the structure of the fabric, where the smooth cotton parts are the pudding and the "lumps" are the sugar. With time the name has been reformed amongst us westeners until today when it is refered to as seersucker.

Seersucker is used in a lot of things: bedlinen, shirts, towels. But perhaps most famously in suits.  It was the british who first brought it from India. During the colonial days a lot of welldressed gentlemen in places such as British India found the warm and humid conditions a real nuisance and soon enough some of them started fashioning suits of the seersucker fabric in order to be able to dress well and still not turn into a wet puddle of sweat. That the material, being wrinkled even from the start, also made the suits easier to care for in a country where a good drycleaning service probably was rather hard to find made them even more suitable,
These suits followed them over the atlantic, back home, and eventually came to America where they grew especially popular in the southern states where the weather conditions were similar to, and sometimes even more humid than, those in India.

Originally the seersucker suit was considered somewhat of a poor mans suit in the states, but in the 20s they were picked up by the preppy students of the Ivy League-universitys and the rest is history. Today the seersucker is considered an american and british classic and it has been adopted by gentlemen and people into classic fashion all over the world.

Finding a nice seersucker can be a harder task than you'd imagine though. At least if you, like me, are into the more continental and british variations of style. Sure, there are tons of seersucker blazers and suits floating around eBay and such sites, but most of them are way to oversized or does not have the buttoning or rise I prefer. I had been looking for one that appealed to my taste for quite some time when I finally found New Orleans, on our trip there last summer. Where else?
Mine is a Penguin by Munsingwear one and a full suit. I was really glad when I found it because of all the detailing - ticket pocket, slim lapels and working cuff buttonings to name a few. I had a third button added though since it was a two button blazer. Nothing wrong with that (I might even do a 2 vs 3 button-post in the future), but I was not quite pleased with the low rise. Luckily enough the cut of the lapels made it easy for my tailor to sort that out - on most jackets adding a third buttonhole is something that is advised against.
I really like the look off the full suit, but quite often wear the blazer alone and combine it with a pair of lighcoloured trousers or even denim (blue seersuckers are one of the few blazers, apart from the odd tweed-jacket, that actually works worn with jeans in my opinion). That's one other benefit of the seersucker - it can be worn as full suit with shirt (with or without tie) or as a casual blazer/summersjacket. I am actually keeping my eyes out for another one at the moment - preferebly with a red or mintgreen pattern.

So...put on that thin summer shirt, button up your seersucker and get ready for those summerpartys with a nice cocktail in hand!

Song of the day:
Eddie Floyd - Big Bird

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