The Story of Seersucker
Have you ever been on the hunt for the most perfect seersucker suit? Don't you love the way the light fabric feels during warmer months, not to mention the great patterns? Do you wonder why people covet seersucker or what makes it so popular? Fear not, the story of Seersucker will explain it all.
Seersucker is a thin, puckered, all-cotton fabric, commonly striped or checkered, and used for spring and summer wear. The word was brought into English from Persian, and originates from the words sheer and shakar, literally meaning "milk and sugar". Imagine the variance of smooth, rough stripes to the smooth texture of milk and the bumpiness of sugar. Seersucker is woven in such a way that some threads bunch together, giving the fabric a wrinkled appearance in places.
When seersucker was first introduced in the United States, it was used for many different clothing items. For suits, the material was considered a "fixture" for mens suiting, who favored the light fabric in the high heat and humidity of the summer, especially prior to the arrival of air conditioning. Men do not have many light fabrics to choose to keep cool, so seersucker is a great and popular option to dress up for summer.
Originally in the Old West, a heavyweight dark blue seersucker known as "hickory stripe" was used to make work jackets and peaked caps of train engineers. This cotton fabric was durable like denim, cheap to produce, kept them cool in the hot cab of the steam locomotive, and obscured oil or coal tar stains. Today, the uniforms of American Union Pacific train drivers include "railroad stripe" caps based on those from the steam age..
Today, seersucker is produced by a limited number of manufacturers. It is a low-profit, high-cost item because of its slow weaving speed. Seersuckers are made in plain colors, stripes, plaids, checks, and prints.
Milk and sugar are a great way to describe the seersucker fabric, smooth and clumpy. They are two different textures but make a unique and interesting fabric that is popular amongst so many. Not only interesting but functional during warm months. Did I mention that warmer weather is near? You know what that means, sandals, Coronas, and seersucker!