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5 Ways to Wear Seersucker

Wearing the thin, almost crepe-like cotton and always slightly crinkled stripes of seersucker is simplicity at its finest.
Wearing the thin, almost crepe-like cotton and always slightly crinkled stripes of seersucker is simplicity at its finest.
CC: Peteski4

Blue and white stripes are the seersucker of old, but they still rule the roost in modern looks, too -- for both men and women. Yellow, pink, pale orange, gray and soft green all show their stripes in spring and summer seersucker, but of the variations in color, there's only one rule: Seersucker is seasonal and specifically for times that are warm.

Wearing the thin, almost crepe-like cotton and always slightly crinkled stripes of seersucker is simplicity at its finest unless it becomes too complicated. Guys and girls can wear too much of it and it's possible to go from casual cool to, well, wrinkled fool. You can wear it piecemeal or embrace an entire lined ensemble but the fit, accessories and occasion can make or break the look you're going for.

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We'll take a look at some ways to show your stripes in moderation or in saturation so you can stay comfortable as well as traditional, on-trend or a bit of both.

Seersucker got its start in suit form, with jackets and pants worn together on warm Southern days, and suits are still in fashion -- for men and women -- depending on the occasion and the way they're worn. There can be too much of a cool thing, but top-to-toe stripes is generally the way to go for guys at the Kentucky Derby, a Mint Julep-themed party or in locales where a seersucker suit is the only suit in the closet -- for instance, some bastions of the Old South.

Wearing the thin, crumply matching jacket and pants works in cities and northern towns too, as long as it's balanced with an un-patterned or subtle shirt, solid colored tie and classic, non-fussy shoes. And the reverse works, as well. A seersucker shirt underneath a classic solid suit is cooler and cool.

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Fashion-forward youngsters also have a better chance at wearing seersucker suits well, though mostly with a bit of tongue-in-cheek styling that plays up the overdone stripes, whether traditional widths or super thin pin lines.

Seersucker shorts, like these from Lily Pulitzer, are always cool on a hot summer day.
Seersucker shorts, like these from Lily Pulitzer, are always cool on a hot summer day.
Photo courtesy of Bloomingdales

Probably the most wearable choice for both men and women, seersucker shorts are widely available in a variety of lengths and colors, and can be dressed up or down from spring to late summer. Pleat-front women's shorts look cool and fashionable with a crisp white shirt, and the same goes for men. Pulling in a third color, for example wearing a pink button-down with blue and white seersucker shorts or a pastel yellow T-shirt with gray and white bermudas is an easy look that adds a lot of options for a single pair of shorts. Even pulling in a fourth color if you need to layer into sweaters or sweatshirts as temperatures drop works very well. Here the look tends toward the beach and polo field, as well as a manicured backyard to-do.

Shoes are easy, too, as it's just as acceptable to wear sandals, bucks or boat shoes as it is to wear your tennis shoes, as long as the shoe fits the occasion or the venue.

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While suits may offer the most square inches of seersucker fabric, miniskirts probably bear the least. Women in the East Coast boat set have long worn longer versions of the seersucker mini by keeping lengths at about or just above the knee. More recent versions take the classic stripes to micro-mini shortness or to several inches above the knee while keeping the patterns and fabric of days gone by.

Pairing seersucker with funkier blouses, ironic T-shirts, fitted solid blazers and even cotton tanks is trendy with a touch of class -- a combination that rarely fails. Wearing flats in a solid color or even in a clashing pattern, for instance with flowers, animal print or polka dots, keeps a seersucker miniskirt looking cute, while high heels notch up the sexiness -- and shortness.

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Simple pearl strands and thin hoop earrings pair well with both the stripe patterning and the lightness of the fabric and look, for day or night.

Capri pants have become an essential a part of a woman's warm-weather wardrobe as shorts and dresses, and seersucker capris fill a gap between the very casual to the suitably formal depending on how they're dressed up or down. Full-length pants in seersucker are still in fashion and arguably a lot more wearable for women than men, but shorter capri lengths have become widely available and workable.

Boxy T-shirts and boat-neck, three-quarter-sleeve tops suit seersucker pants and most any capris, and thin-weight cardigan sweaters of short, linen blazers elevate the look for going out at night. And as with miniskirts in the crinkled stripe, flats or heels are OK as long as they fit the occasion and carry the overall look. A men's style lace-up oxford is another great pairing that pays homage to the original seersucker trousers.

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Seersucker jackets can be dressed up or down, and look great with jeans, khakis and even shorts.
Seersucker jackets can be dressed up or down, and look great with jeans, khakis and even shorts.
Photo courtesy of Bloomingdales

Although women can sport the look, too, there is something almost iconic about seeing a man in a seersucker blazer with pants or shorts. Where a seersucker suit can sometimes get it wrong by being over-the-top, a jacket most often adds just the right touch of both warm weather casualness and up-one-notch style than going without.

Flat-front chinos in shades of tan and khaki or white are staples for the seersucker blazer, but well-tailored black pants or even jeans -- in black, blue or even white -- look great with a loose but not oversized blazer of any color combination. Light suede bucks also are the more traditional choice but black or brown leather with pants or boat shoes and sandals for shorts work well depending on the destination and activities, or lack of them!

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And some added benefits of dressing up in dress-down seersucker are being able to worry less about ironing, sweating and dry cleaning; within reason, of course.

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Sources

  • Marcus, Lilit. "How to Wear Seersucker Properly If You Are Not Actually Southern." TheGloss.com. June 23, 2010. (Apr. 13, 2012) http://thegloss.com/fashion/how-to-wear-seersucker-properly-if-you-are-not-actually-southern/
  • Ramirez, Elva. "How to Rock Seersucker." Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com. Apr. 29, 2010. (Apr. 14, 2012) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704471204575210333552788148.html
  • StyleBlogger. "Summer Style: Know Your Fabrics - Seersucker." StyleBlogger.com. 2012. (Apr. 13, 2012) http://www.thestyleblogger.com/479/summer-style-know-your-fabrics-seersucker/
  • United States Senate. "Seersucker Thursday." Senate.gov. 2012. Apr. 13, 2012. http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/SeersuckerThursday.htm

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