Bill's Blog

SEERSUCKER SEASON ARRIVES … FOR EVERYBODY!

Posted on May 25th, 2018

This is Memorial Day Weekend, and it will mark the official beginning of seersucker season for everyone … even Yankees! 

As all well-dressed Americans know, seersucker is the classic puckered cotton fabric that for over a century has been the mainstay—or rather the main-dress—for elegant ladies and gentlemen. 

It has particularly been the summer clothing of choice for southern lawyers. Indeed, in southern courthouses seersucker has been the perfect law suit for legal icons from Atticus Finch to Ben Matlock. 

Ecclesiastes 3 teaches us, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven” - to which The Byrds added, in the title of their 1965 song, “Turn! Turn! Turn!”  This raises a long-debated fundamental question:  When is the season for seersucker?  Put another way, when can I take off this hot, itchy wool and put on my cool, comfortable seersucker? 

There is general although not unanimous agreement among seersucker aficionados that seersucker is not a year-round fabric.  By definition, it is a warm weather fabric.  Even in this era of global warming, one doesn’t wear a seersucker suit to Thanksgiving dinner in Memphis, nor does Santa Claus come down your chimney wearing red and white striped seersucker on Christmas Eve, even in Miami Beach. 

There is general (but again, not unanimous) agreement that part of the allure of seersucker is that one only wears it during the “seersucker season,” whatever that may be. 

Just as baseball fans in the “hot stove league” spend snowy winter nights by the fire dreaming of sunlit summer days at the ballpark, seersucker lovers spend their winters looking forward to donning their wonderful cotton suits at summertime picnics.  But if there is in fact a season and a time to every seersucker purpose under Heaven, when can we turn, turn, turn to it? 

Andrew Thomas lives in what is arguably next to New Orleans, the greatest seersucker city in the world, Charleston. His blog, “The Pursuit of Civility,” celebrates the importance of courtesy, kindness, manners, and not coincidentally, seersucker! 

Thomas contends that there are three schools of thought regarding the duration of the seersucker season.

School No. 1: Easter Sunday morning to Labor Day evening.

School No. 2: Memorial Day morning to Labor Day evening.

School No. 3:  Whenever weather permits.

What school you follow generally depends your latitude and your attitude.  The first school is found in the deep south below what has become known as the Sweet Tea Line, which should not be confused with the Mason-Dixon Line. 

The Sweet Tea Line is the demarcation point that truly separates the North from the South.  If you go into a restaurant or diner north of this line and order tea, the waitress or waiter will ask you two questions: Hot or cold? Sweetened or unsweetened? But if you order tea south of the Sweet Tea Line, you will be served iced tea, already sweetened with sugar, no questions asked. 

Thomas contends that under the South-of-the-Sweet-Tea-Line school of fashion thought, the seersucker season is determined by the church calendar.  “On Easter Sunday,” Thomas writes, “ladies don their sundresses with heirloom pearls and white shoes, and gentlemen don their seersucker suits with bowties and white bucks (extra credit for those who wear a hat).” 

The second school of thought, Memorial Day to Labor Day—is followed north of the Sweet Tea Line for obvious reasons.  It’s still cold in Boston on Easter Sunday, and warm weather generally does not arrive in the north until late spring. This school has many followers in the south and throughout other warmer parts of the United States as folks regard seersucker as summer wear, and the unofficial start to summer is this weekend—yes, Memorial Day weekend. 

And the third school of thought was long advocated by my late dear seersucker clad friend, Jim Eickner. “Wear seersucker when it’s hot,” he would declare! 

Eickner explained, “It is ridiculous for the fashion police to dictate that we have to pack up our seersucker suits and put on worsted wool the morning after Labor Day when the temperature is still 90 degrees and the heat index is approximately the same as Ted Williams’ lifetime batting average.” 

Whatever seersucker season you follow, it is definitely here this weekend. So don your seersucker suits and, on weekends, your seersucker casual wear, and stay cool (literally) and comfortable from now until Labor Day!

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