Monday, June 8, 2009

it's seersucker, see sucka?

I've been wearing the jacket to my seersucker suit a lot lately. Whether paired with a bright polo shirt and jeans, or a white button down oxford and slim fit khaki pants, this jacket instantly ups the style quotient and is perfect for summer!

Seersucker is a cotton fabric with a name deriving from the Persian term shir o shakar which means milk and sugar. The fabric was initially made in Iraq, yet it was popularized in America, especially for men’s clothing.

Seersucker is made by what is called a slack-tension weave, where groups of yarn are bunched together in certain portions of the fabric created a puckered, almost wrinkled look to the fabric. Which is a yet another quality for those of you who seem to be iron challenged and wear wrinkles like the latest trendy accessory! The puckering effect of the weave creates a wonderful feature in seersucker garments. They tend to be much cooler to wear because airspace is created between the body and parts of the clothing, and allow for perfect travel garments as well!

Initially, seersucker was the fabric of choice for working class men, especially when they had to work in hot weather. It later was adopted by the upper classes, and was especially associated with the Southern gentleman’s suit in America. A seersucker suit was standard wear for many Southern men during the sweltering summer months, though it might be considered gauche to wear one after September. Today you may still see older gentlemen in the south attired in their seersucker suits year round.

However, the fabric isn't just limited to the seersucker suit fashion trend. It remains a popular fabric for many different types of clothing. Seersucker pants may be popular cruise or vacation wear, and seersucker shirts and shorts are popular for both men and women. They are easy care garments, great for taking on trips, and of course providing lightweight, cool covering.

Not wishing to miss out on a good thing, during World War II Captain Anne A. Lentz designed the summer service uniform for the first female marines using seersucker. Especially in a military setting, even when women were not allowed in combat, having cool, easy to care fabrics was a mark of good sense. Despite providing several generations with comfortable summer clothing, seersucker is occasionally hard to find.

The weaving process of alternating tight and slack weaves is labor intensive and expensive. Since companies don’t make much of a profit by it, fewer companies produce true seersucker. Sometimes companies cheat by treating fabrics with chemicals to produce the puckering effect. The material is not likely to remain puckered; so if you are interested in seersucker, make sure it comes from a true slack-tension weave. It may cost you a little more but is likely to wear well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good stuff Joe!