We’ve been invited to Seriously Seersucker in Franklin in June, an event that benefits O’More College of Design, hosted by Robert Hicks, one of our literary crushes. After searching for just the right seersucker dress, we began wondering, “Where did seersucker come from? And why is it such a mainstay of Southern attire?”
Seersucker originated in India where it was favored by British colonialists, looking for a way to battle the heat and humidity of the tropical India summers. The fabric eventually found its way to America where in the early 1900s it began to work its way into our fashion lexicon. But what makes seersucker so comfortable in the heat? It’s the fabric's bumpy texture that gives it its name.
The word seersucker comes from the Hindi words “shir o shakar,” which means “milk and sugar.” The material is woven using a process causes some of the threads to bunch together, keeping the fabric from making direct contact with the skin and allowing more circulation. The result is a fabric that is perfect for Alabama's hot, humid summers and one that remains relatively crisp next to its more staid Southern cousins cotton and linen.
Seersucker has become an iconic Southern look. Favored by writers including F. Scott Fitzgerald and seersucker became a symbol of justice when Gregory Peck wore a seersucker suit in the film To Kill a Mockingbird. And an emblem of a new generation when Dustin Hoffman donned a seersucker jacket in The Graduate. From women’s uniforms in World War II to weddings, seersucker is a traditional standby that emerges every spring like daffodils and 90-degree temperatures.