Seersucker Style: Puckered Cotton Is Everywhere This Season

What Is Seersucker?

Despite its rather odd name, seersucker is actually quite simple in concept. It’s a fabric, first and foremost. Although seersucker suits and blazers are often pinstriped, a seersucker fabric is not contingent on the present of any pattern of colour. The most common seersucker fabrics, these days at least, are plain white or off-white. 

It’s usually 100% cotton, although some would contest that you can engineer a seersucker fabric out of silks or synthetic fibres other than cotton. 

The trait that makes it a seersucker fabric? It’s the puckering effect, which is created by weaving the fabric on twin-looms at different speeds.

Why do we call it seersucker? 

The word ‘seersucker’ comes from England, but the etymology is not British. During the existence of the East India trading company (from the 17th century onwards), under which the Brits traded with countries in the Indian Ocean region, we encountered this type of textile. 

According to the Encyclopedia Of Textiles, originally it was called shir o shakka (Persian for ‘milk and sugar.’ The Brits then morphed it into a single word that was notionally easier to pronounce for English speakers.

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Why Is Seersucker Fabric Perfect For Summer?

Mostly because it’s super practical. While we’re all running around at BBQs, summer soirées, weddings and weekender events, we’re most concerned with picking a summer fabric that is breathable, fashionable and wrinkle-free. Nobody has much time for ironing and steaming do they? The puckering of the seersucker fabric neutralises the need for ironing, so you can pop it on and off you go. 

The other great thing about seersucker fabrics, particularly if we’re talking about cotton, is that it’s light, breathable and quick-drying. So sweaty days need not turn into a summer nightmare.

Seersucker Is Trending

Seersucker fabrics are pretty much always kicking around during the summer. The US even have a National Seersucker Day, because of course they do. But while men in a seersucker pinstripe might think themselves the height of laid-back cool, the fabric hasn’t always been considered chic. 

But in 2019, seersucker is certainly having a moment, in no short part due to LVMH Prize finalist, Danish designer Cecilie Bahnsen, whose seersucker and matelassé (a similar effect, achieved by a stitching pattern, rather than a twin-loom) dresses and separates have become some of the most covetable and Instagrammable items of the season.

This article first appeared on ELLE.