Seersucker always makes me think of Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird; he wears a three-piece suit in the lightweight, puckered fabric during the climactic court scene and, despite the tension and heat, remains looking cool. Chester Barrie’s Loro Piana silk‑blend seersucker three-piece suit – generously lapelled jacket (£750) and waistcoat (£225) and trousers (£295) – would have done Finch equally proud.
Despite the fact that the fabric – usually light-coloured cotton or silk – is Indian by origin (it comes from the Indian word sirsakar, meaning “milk and sugar”, a reference to its alternately smooth and puckered lines) and was adopted by the British during the Raj, the material also evokes Ivy League summer style. Current incarnations by the original champions of the preppy seersucker look, Brooks Brothers, include stylish pale-blue or grey/white (£330) blazers and pleated tailored shorts (£75). But alongside these contemporary versions of the classics, there are exciting new interpretations.
Hardy Amies’ updated seersucker is particularly impressive. Taking inspiration from 2001: A Space Odyssey and 1960s aviation gear – including the high-tech fabrics used for temperature regulation – Amies commissioned seersucker in a particularly cooling fabrication and some smashing colours. Granted, “survival orange” is not for everyone, but for those with a daring streak, the suit jacket (£650) feels wonderful and looks great worn separately from the trousers. The casual, contemporary style of the olive-green seersucker suit (from £650) – with its narrowed trousers and patch pockets – has broader appeal (especially when the jacket or trousers are worn separately), and there’s also a matching bomber jacket (£750) with distinguishing black-taped seams. A more formal reinterpretation is a dapper navy six-button double-breasted suit (£650), but this can still have casual elan when worn with a T-shirt or open shirt, white sneakers and no socks. Seersucker tailoring in this deep shade of blue is a new trend that uplifts the fabric in the style stakes.
Massimo Alba has a superbly laid-back navy striped blazer (€845) in “jumbo seersucker” with gold buttons, and tailoring brand Thom Sweeney has a sophisticated navy seersucker three-piece suit (£1,975) with a soft cut that keeps things comfortable. “We worked with Loro Piana on lightweight mixes of cotton/wool/silk,” says co-founder Thom Whiddet. “Mixing wool and silk for seersucker gives a luxury handle and adds depth to the finish.”
Emporio Armani also has sophisticated seersuckers in wool and polyester. The latter gives its grey/pistachio suit (£740) a slight stretch, so that it feels ultra-comfortable, while the narrow collar and soft cut lend it an effortless cool, especially when worn with a fine knit in a similar tone. The label also uses a stretch “puckered” knit effect in a striking grey jacket (£640) with an asymmetric zip, and a black one (£740) with a belt fastening.
Ermenegildo Zegna has come up with a modernised composition of seersucker using a wool/linen blend that looks particularly striking as a springy, slightly stretchy two‑button jacket (£1,370) in midnight-blue and teal micro-check. Short and neat, with patch pockets and a single vent, it’s an exercise in contemporary Italian sartorial expertise.
Elsewhere, cotton with elastane gives stretch to Hugo Boss’s seersucker suits – I like those in finely striped blue/stone or palest pink (£580). There are also some appealing new uses for seersucker, such as gingham or striped ties (£45) and pyjamas (£75) at Brooks Brothers, and blue/white striped or plain white shirts (£175) at Drake’s. Orlebar Brown has taken the fabric to heart this season too with Bulldog swimshorts (£175) in a red, pink or blue stripe.