Style / May 2018

Cloth 101: Seersucker

As sartorial trends go, Seersucker’s popularity in recent seasons has risen in conjunction with the mercury. A performance cloth favoured due to its propensity for breathability, it can be a tricky one to style so allow our Sartorial Guru to help.

Coming in a variety of colours with usually a white stripe, the puckered nature of seersucker, where the warp is deliberately shrunk, creates a surface that remains away from the skin and allows air to flow.

Seersucker is a traditional warm-weather fabric with a multitude of uses. My first exposure to it was in the pages of the American editions of GQ I read as a teenager, where the most conservative of brands would showcase suits in baby blues and pinks worn with bow ties and dirty bucks. You occasionally saw bad versions in suburban department stores executed in blends of polyester and cotton; shapeless jackets to be worn by men of a certain age with “comfortable” shoes.

My first seersucker garment was acquired on my first trip to Florence to attend Pitti Uomo. I had underestimated the heat and humidity of Italy in June and was in need of fresh shirts to replace the double-cuffed poplins I had packed. It was there I discovered the magnificent and eclectic menswear store, Principe, and amongst the English fragrances, conservative ties and dressing gowns, was a pure cotton seersucker shirt. I purchased it, along with a cotton madras button-down, and was significantly more comfortable for the remainder of my trip. The puckered nature of seersucker, where the warp is deliberately shrunk, creates a surface that remains away from the skin and allows air to flow. It is no wonder that it is so popular in the deep south of America, where it is considered quite conservative. My shirt was in the traditional blue and white Bengal design that also had a cult status amongst Ivy League students and, subsequently, found its way into the wardrobe of the sixties' London mod. Because it is already wrinkled, it does not crease anymore and keeps a good shape.

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Christopher Modoo

Christopher Modoo is 'The Urbane Outfitter', with twenty five years of experience in classic menswear. He has conducted suit fittings in both Beckingham and Buckingham Palace. He hates short socks.