May 21, 2014

Are You Ready For National Seersucker Day?

Every so often, I get pitch letters from PR agencies...

Every so often, I get pitch letters from PR agencies sharing the latest news from whichever brand. Since I try to stick to practical advice and reviews here on the blog, rather than sharing upcoming news that every menswear blogger is getting, I usually read these with some amusement and file them away. However, the most recent letter, sent on behalf of Southern trad clothiers, Haspel, caught me eye.

Apparently, 'National Seersucker Day' used to be a thing - centered on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., but shared by menswear enthusiasts across the country, the day is a celebration of 'a simpler time when there was more charm and playfulness in Washington Attire.' During the recession, the tradition was ditched (I guess the D.C. vibe just wasn't so charming and playful as our economy tanked), but this year, they're bringing it back.

The day comes on June 11th, so you have plenty of time to stock up on some of the summer fabric. To help you out, we've picked out a few of our favorite options currently available across the web.

First, though, what is seersucker? Until I really became interested in style, it was a word I heard relatively often but really didn't know what it meant. Traditional seersucker is a cotton fabric easily recognized by its light blue and white stripes, but the identity of the fabric goes beyond the pattern to the material itself. Seersucker is uniquely puckered along the lines of the stripes (and these days, you can find alternatives like seersucker gingham, which puckers with the checks, or solid navy seersucker which shares the puckered lines of traditional seersucker, but over a solid background). This kind-of-rumpled effect helps lend the classic southern look - similar to the wrinkles in linen, but also serves a practical purpose by keeping the fabric off of your skin, and therefore allowing better airflow to keep you cool in hot summer weather or southern climates.

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A very dapper seersucker getup.
Photo courtesy of Haspel

Seersucker can definitely be seen as a bit of a 'statement' fabric or pattern, bolder than your every-day neutrals. Depending on your own sartorial tenacity, you may embrace the southern-swag full-on, or might just be interested in sprucing up your summer duds with a dash of the fabric. Here are our recommendations, in order from the most subtle to the most bold:

A tie is easily the simplest way to pop some seersucker into your rotation, and you can find them practically anywhere this time of year. The Tie Bar has an absolutely fantastic-looking option for only $15:

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Cotton Seersucker in Midnight Navy | The Tie Bar

One of the big risks with seersucker suits and trousers is that you may end up looking too summery and casual for the occasion, which is why I love a pair of seersucker shorts. Shorts are already pretty darn summery and casual, so pretty much any occasion that calls for a pair of shorts will be just fine to wear seersucker. I just got turned onto Jomers, who are selling made-in-NYC shorts for $35. Hot damn, on my shopping list for sure:

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Midwoods Shorts in Navy Seersucker | Jomers

While not quite as widespread, seersucker shirts are a great way to stay cool in the summer heat. Plus, the look plays off of more year-round styles, like a striped oxford, or a Bengal-stripe dress shirt, which will keep the piece from standing out like a sore thumb. This number from J.Crew is a bit pricey at full retail, but wait for one of their many sales and snag it at a discount:

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Slim Seersucker Shirt | J.Crew

From there, things take a much bolder turn. If you aren't ready for a full seersucker suit, start off with the trousers. It's still a strong style move, but isn't quite was overwhelming as a full seersucker suit can be. Try these Thompson suit pants from J.Crew Factory, currently on sale at $88:

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Thompson Suit Pant in Seersucker | J.Crew Factory

Of course, you can always say 'hell-with-it' and go all-out in your southern swag. In order to avoid a frumpy boozehound look (I guess that's the best way to describe it?), do your seersucker suit like any other suit - keep the profile slim, get that bad boy tailored, and rock it with confidence. While still probably not appropriate for a day at the office, a seersucker suit is a great choice for a summer wedding, a cocktail party, a day at the races, and numerous other warm-weather occasions. Here's the jacket to match the above pants (and the whole suit clocks in at around $225, not too shabby at all):

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Thompson Suit Jacket in Seersucker | J.Crew Factory

To bring things back to Haspel real quick, while I don't have any personal experience with the brand, they are well known as a staple of southern gent style, and this year are trying to bring some modernity and youth to their line (slimmer suits, brighter colors, you get the gist). Check them out, not only for some nice duds (although a bit expensive for my budget), but also for some upcoming #seersuckerday giveaways. Free stuff is always worth a look!

Who's got seersucker in their wardrobe? What's your favorite way to rock it?

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tagged cloth, details, fabric, giveaway, haspel, j crew factory...