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Out of all the fabrics to have found their way into the American style canon, seersucker’s journey may have been the strangest. The material is defined by a weave that creates alternating flat and raised stripes, resulting in a puckered texture and appearance that promotes air circulation and makes it nearly impervious to wrinkles.
It originated in India and derived its name from the Persian shir shakar, meaning “milk and sugar,” in reference to its bumpy stripes. With some help from the British, seersucker jumped from the subcontinent to the American South, where its lightweight and humidity-friendly composition had it pegged as workwear. It might have remained that way if not for American college students, who in the 1930s began wearing seersucker suits on campus. Whether they did so ironically or not, the fabric matriculated from the Ivy League to the country club and was immortalized by Gregory Peck’s turn as Atticus Finch in 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
However, one does not need to be a Southern lawyer to enjoy seersucker in its many forms today. As proof, we’ve assembled some of the fabric’s more interesting expressions below.