If you've ever been to Italy in the height of summer and wondered how on earth the men there are able to stroll about in full navy tailoring at midday, while you slowly melt onto the cobblestones, the answer is simple: they're probably wearing seersucker.
But what is seersucker? Allow us to get technical for a second. Seersucker is a puckered material, generally cotton or wool (although Japanese labels like Beams Plus have been known to throw some poly in there for added breathability) which is created by weaving the fibres on twin looms at varying speeds and tensions. This technique creates alternating smooth and rough lines (hence why traditional seersucker often comes in narrow, contrasting stripes), which make the fabric breathable and keep it from sticking to your skin, even on the hottest of Florentine afternoons.
"For me, seersucker is one of those quintessential summer fabrics," says David Keyte, founder of Universal Works. "For jackets and pants we work mostly with an amazing Italian mill in Como called Subalpino, who make the best seersucker ever, in solid colours and crazy tie-dye effects, created by a hand process. The fabric is substantial enough to make a work jacket or chino pant, but light enough to feel perfect for the hot day in New Orleans."
While other big name summer fabrics are prone to creasing and crumpling (we see you, linen) seersucker is a dream for the iron-averse, springing back into life after even the shoddiest of packing jobs. That neat feature also makes it an ideal candidate for holiday shirting and trousers. In recent years it has also been used to make t-shirts, hats and even tote bags, proving its versatility beyond wedding-wear.
"To choose the best kind of seersucker, we always go by hand feel first," says Harry Brantly, founder of Frescobol Carioca, the Rio-based swimwear experts who have branched out into making the kind of clothes – breezy shirts, loose trousers, relaxed blazers – that look and feel just right on Copacabana beach (or sat on a deckchair in your garden). "Then we go by weight of the fabric. It should always have a soft touch, not too scratchy and, most importantly, the first touch should feel cool, as one of the great properties of seersucker is its cooling ability."
Mr Porter's in-house Mr P line does a dab hand in high-quality, well-priced seersucker – it's lovely, summer-ready suit in a dark navy gingham seersucker is a highlight of its S/S '20 range. The blazer is deconstructed (of course) and the trousers have a drawstring waist, giving it the feel and flexibility of casualwear, but with a look that is plenty smart enough for an Italian banquet, should you have to sit at the head of the table and charm an octogenarian olive oil tycoon.
"Seersucker is a classic, but underrated summer fabric," says Ollie Arnold, style director at Mr Porter. "It gets a bad rap as it’s easy to envisage bumbling toffs sipping tea and scoffing scones at a summer garden party, but if worn correctly, it should be an essential piece in every man’s wardrobe."
So whether you absolutely despise ironing or just want to be the best-dressed guy at your next nuptials (guest or groom), seersucker is the puckered, Italian answer.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more delivered straight to your inbox
Need some positivity right now? Subscribe to Esquire now for a hit of style, fitness, culture and advice from the experts
You Might Also Like