Saturday, July 18, 2009

Seersucker- it's the new black!

OK, so the title is a bit cheeky, but I really do love me some seersucker. And while it's a great summer fabric for both men & women alike, this post is for the men. I'd hate to alienate any male readers by focusing entirely on dresses and heels. After all, I'm here to help any and all with their fashion and style dilemmas, regardless of gender. So here it is, boys: my summer must-have piece for the stylish guy: A seersucker suit.

For those who don't know, seersucker is a cotton-based fabric that is incredibly breathable, making it a perfect summer fabric. Also, since it has a slightly bunched look to it, it's not stuffy or too formal. The most common color available is the blue and white, but plain white is also fairly readily available. If you know where to look you can find seersucker in pink, yellow, green, peach, black, beige, and many others, but for the purposes of this blog, I'll speak in terms of the two most common options- blue or white. "Why on earth do I need a light cotton suit in some weird fabric?" you ask. Well, I'll tell you. It's an incredibly versatile set of items to own- whether you wear the suit as a whole, or break up the pieces to create different outfits, it will always be a winner from May to September, and even in the winter months depending on where you live. New Orleans? For sure! Miami? Go for it! The Caribbean? Absolutely! Boston. Sorry, only in the summer up there as well as most places north of the Mason Dixon Line. But even as a summer-only suit option, it's worth the investment.

The most important thing when selecting any article of clothing, but especially a suit, is the fit. Choose a cut that flatters your body type. Under no circumstances should ANY man under 6-feet wear a double-breasted jacket. Fortunately, most seersucker suit options are single-breasted, so it most likely won't be an issue, but consider yourself warned. The number of buttons and the length of the jacket is determined by your height and body frame, as is the cut of the pants. Flat-front only, please! Two- piece is fine, three-piece is better. You have more options with a three-piece suit, although they can be a lot more difficult to find. If you're purchasing a made-to-measure suit, ask if they can add a vest.
Now let's discuss how to complete the outfit starting with the suit. A simple white oxford is a classic way to go, but for the more adventurous lad, consider a nice summer color such as blue or yellow, or whatever looks nice with your skin tone. Add a bold tie, loosely tied for a more casual effect and voila! Fabulous! Another option is to wear a colored polo shirt with your suit. Check out these gents:

With ties, the sky's the limit and I'll be honest, the same can be said of the other accessories. Many people ask, "What is the appropriate shoe and belt choice with a seersucker suit?" and the answer is, "Whatever looks good!" It's true- you can wear black shoes, white shoes, red shoes, pink shoes- whatever you are comfortable in (with the exception of athletic shoes). Some even like to pair the suit with a nice pair of leather sandals (not flip-flops), loafers or boat shoes. Depending on your age, you can even get away with a pair of white low-top Chuck Taylors (20-somethings only, please). For belts, anything from white, black or brown leather to grosgrain ribbon or canvas in any color of the rainbow.

Now that you know how to put together the whole suit, let's discuss each as a separate. The pants on their own are a wonderful alternative to khakis. Pair them with a grosgrain belt, loafers and a polo shirt. If it's chilly, add a denim jacket. If you want a suit look without looking matchy-matchy, then top the outfit with a white linen or brushed cotton blazer. The reverse is true for the seersucker jacket paired with jeans or white pants. Nothing says "Weekend at the Cape" like white pants and a seersucker jacket. The jeans make it a little edgier, so go with what works for your personality.

Earlier I mentioned the idea of having a 3-piece seersucker suit. This isn't so much to wear all together, but to split up the pieces for another stylish look:
Some may think of seersucker as a striped fabric and while that is definitely true in a literal sense, you shouldn't think of seersucker as a printed fabric. In other words, just because it's a "stripe" doesn't mean you can't pair it with stripes or other prints. Because the "stripe" is so fine, the seersucker garment actually acts as a neutral and we all know what that means- you can pair it with nearly anything. The possibilities are endless, really. So what are you waiting for? Go out and get your suit before the summer's over! Brooks Brothers is probably the most notable seersucker suit vendor, but you could also try Ralph Lauren (cha-ching), J. Crew (separates, but the prices are great) to any number of custom and made-to-measure shops like Suit Yourself. Or just Google it and find what works for you! Good luck and happy seersucker seeking!

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