Seersucker is, for many, the defining fabric of summertime. The unique weave of seersucker gives it a puckered texture that allows the lightweight fabric to breathe and keeps it from clinging to your body, creating further heat dissipation. Seersucker suits, sport coats, and other accessories are staples of the southern summer wardrobe, and their iconic blue and white stripes have become ubiquitous with genteel southern society.
Seersucker is not for everyone, though, and some might just want to change things up a bit by adding a fresh look to their wardrobe. Remember, you can get seersucker in a wide array of colors, but you can also opt for an entirely different style altogether while still keeping your cool during those warm summer months. The following four alternatives to seersucker suits and sport coats should provide an option suited to everyone’s fashion tastes.
Maybe your wardrobe is full of patterned shirts and you are realizing that those bold patterns create a dizzying Magic Eye effect when paired with the fine stripes of most seersucker. If this is the case consider linen. Linen does wrinkle, making it a bit higher maintenance than seersucker which requires virtually zero upkeep in terms of steaming or pressing. However, you will find that linen exudes a more cosmopolitan style that can be worn in any social setting in any geographic area while giving you a worldly image. White linen is popular but easily stained, so consider light tan or off-white if you intend on frequently wearing your new linen apparel or if you find yourself favoring red wine.
While linen is typically a more reserved style than seersucker, the madras sport coat is worn by a special kind of guy, the guy who exudes confidence and maybe a splash of arrogance. Plaid or patchwork can make for stunning summer sport coats, but only you can judge if the look is right for you. The look traditionally associated with golfers can be found at fine haberdasheries across the nation and it is not unheard of for Brooks Brothers, J Crew, or Polo by Ralph Lauren to frequently offer these pieces. The traditional golf look has evolved with designers choosing more sophisticated fabrics than those on display in Caddyshack, so pull out a nicely pressed solid color shirt and choose your favorite bowtie because you’re about to turn some heads.
Gingham, like the previously mentioned madras, sport coats can be made as winter wear or summer wear, but when constructed of lighter color fabrics it is a perfect fit for summer affairs. Gingham has an inherent summer feel due to its casual aesthetic and the lighter weight of the cotton used in its construction. Try to keep things solid under your gingham sport coat but if it is a broader pattern of gingham then you can mix things up a bit by wearing a striped shirt, but avoid checks. If you repurpose a darker shade of gingham sport coat from your fall or winter wardrobe, then balance things out by going with a brighter colored shirt underneath.
Gingham and plaid/patchwork sport coats are a bold statement and not every man is ready to make that leap. As for linen, it can be rather costly, especially for good quality, and some men are not drawn to the texture of the fabric. What’s a guy to do? A deconstructed cotton sport coat or blazer provides a more casual summer feel than traditional wool coats, but also adheres to the notion of fashion austerity with far less conspicuous aesthetics than the bolder seersucker, plaid, patchwork, and gingham styles. An unlined cotton sport coat gives off a classic “old money” feel and allows you to wear virtually any button-down that you so choose. Look for subtle details like leather-piped watchmaker pockets to add a subtle bit of style and distinction to these more reserved wardrobe pieces. Ralph Lauren’s Polo brand and Paul Smith have been known to make solid colored cotton sport coats with plaid under the collar and pocket flaps, allowing you to straddle the line between old guard style and edgy fashion.
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