Summer is right around the corner, which means its high time to start prepping your warm weather wardrobe. This means stocking up on pieces in breathable, lightweight fabrics that fuse smart looks with utter comfort. Enter seersucker. The quintessential summer fabric is versatile, airy, elegant and completely underrated in our opinion. It's an ideal candidate for everything from swim shorts to shirting, perfect for any dress code. But what exactly is seersucker? And just how does one go about integrating it into an outfit? Scroll on for everything you need to know about this warm weather wonder.

What is seersucker?

Seersucker is a lightweight fabric – usually cotton – that's characterised by its puckered effect, which is created by weaving the fibres on twin-beam looms at varying speeds. This technique gives the fabric its trademark appearance and texture – those alternating smooth and course stripes that create pockets of space, allowing for increased air circulation and breathability.

The history of seersucker

The origins of seersucker can been traced all the way back to the 1600s. British colonists in India grew fond of the material thanks to its breathability and began to trade the fabric out of India, introducing it to Britain and much of the Western world. It is thought that the name ‘seersucker' is derived from its Persian name, ‘shir o shakka’, which means ‘milk and sugar’. This refers to the contrasting textures of the stripes – the smooth stripe like milk and the puckered stripe like sugar.

Having been used mainly overseas for a long time, seersucker took off in the Western world in the 1900s. During the American Civil War, many elements of the soldiers’ clothing were crafted from the material thanks to its durability. Once the war had ended, the material continued to be used in American workwear for the same reason. 

In 1909, Joseph Haspel, Sr. began to make men’s suits from the fabric, bringing seersucker into mainstream fashion. It wasn’t until the 1920s that the fabric earned its preppy stripes, when US students began to wear seersucker tailoring as a form of soft rebellion to the formality of previous tailoring.

What makes seersucker great for summer?

Seersucker is our fabric of choice in the sweltering summer months, thanks to its inherent breathability and airiness. It's also incredibly practical: unlike linen – another warm weather favourite – it's crease-free, thanks to its naturally puckered texture. It essentially springs back into shape after being folded or crumpled, making it ideal for any summer holiday looks.

How to wear seersucker

The beauty of seersucker is its versatility – this is a fabric that will work just as well in the form of swim shorts as in the form of a summer suit. The key when wearing seersucker is to find the perfect fit. The puckering of the fabric gives it extra bulk, so you may want to opt for a slimmer fit, particularly with tailoring. Avoid leaning too hard into seersucker's historical associations and add a few contemporary flourishes – white trainers and a crisp T-shirt will add a casual edge to a seersucker suit.

5 of the best seersucker buys

Wax London Seersucker Holm Shorts

These straight cut shorts from renowned British menswear label Wax London are the perfect holiday staple, being smartly tailored but still comfortable and lightweight. Team them with a Cuban collar shirt and leather sandals for an effortless look that will take you from day to night.

Forét Stone Duck Shirt

Forét's camp collar Duck shirt is a sure-fire summer wardrobe hero that strikes the perfect retro-contemporary balance. The contrasting cotton twill pocket adds a unique element of interest that will take your outfit up a notch. Team it with selvedge denim jeans for a summer-appropriate take on workwear style.

Edmmond Studios Seersucker Cap

A seersucker cap is the perfect way to introduce the fabric into your wardrobe if you're not quite ready to commit to a full suit. This version from Spanish label Edmmond Studios features a classic light blue and white stripe pattern with a small duck embroidery on the front. It serves as a practical sun shield, a stylish way to disguise a bad hair day or the finishing touch to a low-key look.

SIRPLUS Blue Striped Seersucker Grandad Shirt

Crafted in breathable organic cotton, this blue and white striped grandad collar shirt from SIRPLUS is guaranteed to be a summer favourite. Perfect for elegant affairs like weddings or garden parties, it will look great teamed with a lightweight linen suit.

Native North Striped Parka Jacket

Crafted from a combination of seersucker and spandex, this Danish-designed hooded parka from Native North offers the perfect balance of style and practicality. It's the ideal item to have on hand when sunny summer days threaten to cloud over.

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