In 1909, Joseph Haspel Sr. changed the way we think about seersucker.
The blazing heat of New Orleans, Louisiana convinced this entrepreneur to turn the then-pedestrian puckered cotton cloth into lightweight, tailored Southern suits. His idea took off in the midst of humid Southern summers, and the classic seersucker suit began appearing on U.S. Presidents, Gregory Peck, and Cary Grant.
In the 1960s, women’s seersucker clothing began to emerge, becoming the ideal summer wear for outdoor weddings and gatherings. The soft cotton was not only breathable and wrinkle-resistant, but also provided colorful and stylish options in the Southern social scene. Notable seersucker power dressers have included the likes of Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, and Suzy Parker.
U.S. Senator Trent Lott started a National Seersucker Day in the late 90s that brought Southern charm into the halls of Congress – a day when heavy, dark suits were traded in for intricately tailored seersucker garments. Although originally cancelled in 2012, National Seersucker Day is back on June 11 – bringing together dozens of Senate members for a Southern-themed photo opp.
Seersucker is a Southern staple that celebrates our families, our Southern pride, and our love of the classics. Here are four Southern designers who are keeping the heritage alive with beautiful pieces in our most beloved seersucker.
1. Haspel, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Dressing gentlemen for over a century, Haspel is almost completely synonymous with the well-loved seersucker suit. The lightweight pieces are handcrafted with fine Italian cotton seersucker and boast Southern sophistication while making no compromises for comfortability. Laurie Haspel Aronson, fourth-generation owner, says that seersucker has always been a staple in her family’s household.
Gravier Seersucker Sport Jacket, $730
2. Lauren James Co., Fayetteville, Arkansas
For Lauren James, seersucker is the quintessential summer fabric for its breathability, class, and feminine appearance. The nurse-turned-fashion designer pours her heart into lines of sweet summer dresses, bow shorts, pleated skirts, and swimwear. Having seen seersucker frequently in her mother and grandfather’s closets, the founder pulls her clothing inspiration from the fabric’s Southern legacy. “We think that if you can wear it,” Lauren says, “you can wear it in seersucker.”
The Livingston Seersucker Dress, $125
3. Steeple Bay Designs, Columbia, South Carolina
Seersucker is crafted into beautiful, handmade accessories with Steeple Bay Designs. Based in Columbia, South Carolina, Steeple Bay turns the soft cloth into elegant bowties, pocket squares, and clutches. Principal designer Ashlyn Chrysostomides chooses seersucker fabric for its timeless class and bright color options – a great addition to any Southern formal wear.
Lobster Seersucker Bow Tie, $45
4. Jolie and Elizabeth, New Orleans, Louisiana
Jolie and Elizabeth is a Lousiana-based clothing company started by Southerners Jolie Benson Hamilton and Sarah Elizabeth Dewey. The two fashion enthusiasts started their careers in the New York fashion industry, but realized their passion was actually for chic Southern style. According to brand co-founder Sarah Elizabeth, Jolie and Elizabeth’s first collection was all seersucker dresses – because it was the most Southern fabric they could imagine. The designers focus specifically on making Southern women of all ages feel beautiful with classic wrap dresses, printed aprons, fashionable purses and even summer sarongs. As Sarah Elizabeth says, “Seersucker screams ‘born and raised in the South.'”
The Anna Dress, $189