Greeting Summer Head-On
I will admit it: I hate summer. I come from San Francisco, where summer is two mild weeks in mid-September. I melt in the heat, even here in Los Angeles, where the high temperatures are ameliorated by dry air. I spent a few summers in Washington DC, so I understand that hot can really be hot.
When I don’t have any appointments and the mercury hits about 84, I put on shorts. Sometimes, though, I have people to meet. In those times, well, a bit of head-on goes a long way. Today was one of those days. Interview (with the great comedian Todd Glass) in the afternoon. Temperatures in the mid-80s. So I threw on this new suit, which features - wait for it - checked seersucker.
Frankly, it’s a little ridiculous. But when it’s this hot, who cares?
(Photo by Noe Montes)

Greeting Summer Head-On

I will admit it: I hate summer. I come from San Francisco, where summer is two mild weeks in mid-September. I melt in the heat, even here in Los Angeles, where the high temperatures are ameliorated by dry air. I spent a few summers in Washington DC, so I understand that hot can really be hot.

When I don’t have any appointments and the mercury hits about 84, I put on shorts. Sometimes, though, I have people to meet. In those times, well, a bit of head-on goes a long way. Today was one of those days. Interview (with the great comedian Todd Glass) in the afternoon. Temperatures in the mid-80s. So I threw on this new suit, which features - wait for it - checked seersucker.

Frankly, it’s a little ridiculous. But when it’s this hot, who cares?

(Photo by Noe Montes)

Real People: Giving Up the Jacket on Hot Days
Participate on online clothing forums for long enough, and you’ll notice, around this time every year, people will start to chat about what kind of sport coats can they wear for summer. Some say it’s important to get something unlined. Some say it’s about the weight of the fabric. Others say it’s important to get something made with a very loose weave, so your skin can breathe.
The sad reality is: there’s no jacket – no matter how it’s constructed – that’s going to be as comfortable as not wearing a jacket at all. Suit jackets and sport coats have “stuffing” in them, which means even if you’re only wearing a jacket made from a thin, lightweight, loosely woven material, it’s still probably going to have some layers of canvassing and horsehair inside. That will naturally trap a bit of air and make you feel a bit warmer that you’d otherwise feel. 
You don’t need to wear a tailored jacket to look put together, however. Yesterday, it hit the high 80s where I live, and I wore something like what our friend Theo in London is wearing above. Only, where he’s wearing striped seersucker pants and a light blue shirt, I had on a striped linen shirt and tan linen pants. When something is this simple, I think it’s useful to have a bit of pattern somewhere. And while Theo has on a Panama hat, braided belt, and watch in this picture, I accessorized yesterday with only a watch and a suede belt. Suede being more casual than calf, I find it’s a nice nice complement for a look like this. 
Of course, you will almost always look better with a tailored jacket than without (at least if you’re shooting for a classic look). But you don’t necessarily need one to look good. 

Real People: Giving Up the Jacket on Hot Days

Participate on online clothing forums for long enough, and you’ll notice, around this time every year, people will start to chat about what kind of sport coats can they wear for summer. Some say it’s important to get something unlined. Some say it’s about the weight of the fabric. Others say it’s important to get something made with a very loose weave, so your skin can breathe.

The sad reality is: there’s no jacket – no matter how it’s constructed – that’s going to be as comfortable as not wearing a jacket at all. Suit jackets and sport coats have “stuffing” in them, which means even if you’re only wearing a jacket made from a thin, lightweight, loosely woven material, it’s still probably going to have some layers of canvassing and horsehair inside. That will naturally trap a bit of air and make you feel a bit warmer that you’d otherwise feel. 

You don’t need to wear a tailored jacket to look put together, however. Yesterday, it hit the high 80s where I live, and I wore something like what our friend Theo in London is wearing above. Only, where he’s wearing striped seersucker pants and a light blue shirt, I had on a striped linen shirt and tan linen pants. When something is this simple, I think it’s useful to have a bit of pattern somewhere. And while Theo has on a Panama hat, braided belt, and watch in this picture, I accessorized yesterday with only a watch and a suede belt. Suede being more casual than calf, I find it’s a nice nice complement for a look like this. 

Of course, you will almost always look better with a tailored jacket than without (at least if you’re shooting for a classic look). But you don’t necessarily need one to look good. 

Finally, a Chance to Mention Supreme at Put This On
New York skate shop turned ultra-hyped line of clothing and accessories Supreme collaborates every season with other brands, some that make immediate sense (Vans, Neighborhood) and some that you gotta wonder about, like Wise brand snacks and, now, Brooks Brothers. Next week, Supreme will be selling a custom-lining seersucker suit in Brooks’ Fitzgerald cut, which has narrower lapels and a slimmer cut than Brooks’ classic offerings. (Supreme-buying trads are sure to be disappointed that it’s not a traditional sack silhouette.)
Supreme may in fact be the Brooks Brothers of the streetwear world. It started in New York, everyone agrees it was better back in the day, and the best thing about it now are the shoes.
-Pete

Finally, a Chance to Mention Supreme at Put This On

New York skate shop turned ultra-hyped line of clothing and accessories Supreme collaborates every season with other brands, some that make immediate sense (Vans, Neighborhood) and some that you gotta wonder about, like Wise brand snacks and, now, Brooks Brothers. Next week, Supreme will be selling a custom-lining seersucker suit in Brooks’ Fitzgerald cut, which has narrower lapels and a slimmer cut than Brooks’ classic offerings. (Supreme-buying trads are sure to be disappointed that it’s not a traditional sack silhouette.)

Supreme may in fact be the Brooks Brothers of the streetwear world. It started in New York, everyone agrees it was better back in the day, and the best thing about it now are the shoes.

-Pete

The Switch
Rigidity about the beginnings and ends of seasons for clothing denies the variability of our climate. Labor Day has come and gone, and meteorological summer ends in a few days, but even though I have an itch for scratchier fabrics, if the weather calls for it I’ll still wear linen in September. Still, it’s about time to give up and put away the seersucker and linen or the rust tweeds in the closet will just get rustier. Storage of seasonal clothing is like re-sorting a record collection for music nerds enthusiasts—to dabblers it’s a chore but to the truly dedicated it can be deeply satisfying. Derek put together a helpful to-do list for seasonal storage a couple of years ago, and it’s worth revisiting his tips as you put away your summer stuff:
Wash or dry clean your clothes before you store them. This ensures that insects aren’t packed away with your clothes and that any food bits, which can attract insects, will be gone as well. I even give my clean clothes a good shake before they’re actually stored. 
Check the pockets to make sure they’re empty. I also zip up the zippers and button the buttons, just to make sure things are in good order. 
Get muslin or canvas garment bags for your trousers, jackets, and suits. I’ve found that these work better than plastic since they allow your clothes to breathe while keeping the bugs at bay. It’s also recommended that you use hangers with molded shoulders for your jackets and suits. Many people believe that this helps your garments keep their shape, though I’ve read credible sources cast doubt on this claim. Still, I’m not testing the matter with my clothes, so I play it safe. 
For sweaters and shirts, store them in plastic bins with lids. Drill a few holes into the lid so that air can circulate. Failing to do so can create moisture, which in turn can cause mildew. Pack them away with the heaviest items on the bottom, and be sure not to overstuff things, otherwise you’ll ruin the fibers. I also wrap my favorite pieces in acid free tissue paper, but this isn’t terribly necessary.
Put cedar balls or lavender in along with your clothes to deter bugs. 
Choose a storage space that is cool and dry. If you don’t, your clothes may develop mold, and if they do, they will have a smell that will be very, very difficult to get out. I’ve had clothes permanently ruined from being stored in damp areas, so be careful. Once you’ve chosen a place, vacuum and clean it out before your store your clothes there. 
If you have silverfish in your home, and you’ve put holes in the lids of your storage bins, put those bins off the floor. This will lower the likelihood of having silverfish snack on your garments.
I’d add a few more things:
Take the opportunity to cull your wardrobe. Clothing that is truly worn out should be trashed; stuff that no longer fits you or that you no longer need can be ebay’d, consigned, or donated. Bonus: room for more stuff.
Mothballs still exist; don’t use them. They’re toxic and they smell it. Lavender and cedar are ideal. You can buy cedar sachets or make them—if you don’t need them to be photogenic you can find spice bags at kitchen or hardware stores.
If you (like me) weren’t as careful as Derek when putting away your fall/winter stuff last year: (1) immediately clean any tailoring or sweaters you didn’t clean pre-storage; (2) steam wrinkles out of suits that got creased in storage, but don’t overdo it—if it’s really wrinkled, get it professionally pressed.
If you’ve stored stuff poorly in the past (stretched out knits, left suit jackets on wire hangers for months), now’s the time to repent and do right by your clothes.
-Pete

The Switch

Rigidity about the beginnings and ends of seasons for clothing denies the variability of our climate. Labor Day has come and gone, and meteorological summer ends in a few days, but even though I have an itch for scratchier fabrics, if the weather calls for it I’ll still wear linen in September. Still, it’s about time to give up and put away the seersucker and linen or the rust tweeds in the closet will just get rustier. Storage of seasonal clothing is like re-sorting a record collection for music nerds enthusiasts—to dabblers it’s a chore but to the truly dedicated it can be deeply satisfying. Derek put together a helpful to-do list for seasonal storage a couple of years ago, and it’s worth revisiting his tips as you put away your summer stuff:

  • Wash or dry clean your clothes before you store them. This ensures that insects aren’t packed away with your clothes and that any food bits, which can attract insects, will be gone as well. I even give my clean clothes a good shake before they’re actually stored. 
  • Check the pockets to make sure they’re empty. I also zip up the zippers and button the buttons, just to make sure things are in good order. 
  • Get muslin or canvas garment bags for your trousers, jackets, and suits. I’ve found that these work better than plastic since they allow your clothes to breathe while keeping the bugs at bay. It’s also recommended that you use hangers with molded shoulders for your jackets and suits. Many people believe that this helps your garments keep their shape, though I’ve read credible sources cast doubt on this claim. Still, I’m not testing the matter with my clothes, so I play it safe. 
  • For sweaters and shirts, store them in plastic bins with lids. Drill a few holes into the lid so that air can circulate. Failing to do so can create moisture, which in turn can cause mildew. Pack them away with the heaviest items on the bottom, and be sure not to overstuff things, otherwise you’ll ruin the fibers. I also wrap my favorite pieces in acid free tissue paper, but this isn’t terribly necessary.
  • Put cedar balls or lavender in along with your clothes to deter bugs. 
  • Choose a storage space that is cool and dry. If you don’t, your clothes may develop mold, and if they do, they will have a smell that will be very, very difficult to get out. I’ve had clothes permanently ruined from being stored in damp areas, so be careful. Once you’ve chosen a place, vacuum and clean it out before your store your clothes there. 
  • If you have silverfish in your home, and you’ve put holes in the lids of your storage bins, put those bins off the floor. This will lower the likelihood of having silverfish snack on your garments.

I’d add a few more things:

  • Take the opportunity to cull your wardrobe. Clothing that is truly worn out should be trashed; stuff that no longer fits you or that you no longer need can be ebay’d, consigned, or donated. Bonus: room for more stuff.
  • Mothballs still exist; don’t use them. They’re toxic and they smell it. Lavender and cedar are ideal. You can buy cedar sachets or make them—if you don’t need them to be photogenic you can find spice bags at kitchen or hardware stores.
  • If you (like me) weren’t as careful as Derek when putting away your fall/winter stuff last year: (1) immediately clean any tailoring or sweaters you didn’t clean pre-storage; (2) steam wrinkles out of suits that got creased in storage, but don’t overdo it—if it’s really wrinkled, get it professionally pressed.
  • If you’ve stored stuff poorly in the past (stretched out knits, left suit jackets on wire hangers for months), now’s the time to repent and do right by your clothes.

-Pete

We’re less than a week from Labor Day, the unofficial end of seersucker season (there’s no governing body for seersucker, unlike corduroy). So if you’ve been waiting all summer to break out your all-seersucker-everything (a.k.a. the “full ‘sucker”) now is your last chance.

Seersucker jacket from Haspel at Sierra Trading Post; seersucker tie from Thom Grey at Barney’s Warehouse; seersucker pocket square from the Cordial Churchman; seersucker shirt from Brooks Brothers; seersucker belt from Brooks Brothers; seersucker espadrilles from Soludos. Seersucker boxers exist but c’mon, that’s ridiculous.

“The weather is so hot today, it’s perfect for a seersucker suit, or better yet, killing yourself.” Dave Shumka

Real People: Derby Day

I love The Thrifty Gent's Derby Day outfit. All thrifted, by the way. Note the horse motif on the tie. If ever there was a day where a ridiculous seersucker costume was appropriate, it's Derby Day. Especially if you're a mild-mannered southern minister, which Thrifty Gent is.

Members of the US Senate on Seersucker Thursday, 2006.

Members of the US Senate on Seersucker Thursday, 2006.

Q and Answer: When can I wear seersucker?
Sam writes: I know the traditional advice that one should only wear a seersucker  suit after Memorial Day, but I’m also aware that seersucker tends to be a  traditionally southern style of dress. I am now presented with the  opportunity to attend a post-Memorial day wedding in the Northeast. I  intend to wear my suit in an entirely un-ironic way. Can I get away with  this?
Seersucker is a very, very bold statement.  As a general rule, it’s best to avoid very, very bold statements at weddings, on the theory that the attention at a wedding should be on the bride, not on the guests.
That said, I think there is room for seersucker at a wedding, particularly considering the contemporary resurgence of the fashion nationwide.  The basics are pretty simple. 
As you’ve already figured out, you should follow the weather.  I’d be comfortable going as far back in the year as Easter if it’s hot outside.  
You should also follow the time of day - seersucker is at home in the sun, not so much the night.  It’s fine if you’re going to an event that starts at 2, but not so much one that starts at 6.
It should fit the occasion.  Don’t show up all Colonel Sanders-ed out to a wedding where everyone else is wearing t-shirts they got from sending in cigarette UPCs.
You should do it right.  It should fit and look good.  This advice is a bit more nebulous, but it has to be that way.  It’s key for it not to look like a goofy costume, and that requires some panache on your part, some comfort in the role, and some great execution.
Fulfill those goals and you’ll be golden.  My pal Rob wore seersucker to my San Francisco wedding, and he looked like a million dollars.  It can be done.

Q and Answer: When can I wear seersucker?

Sam writes: I know the traditional advice that one should only wear a seersucker suit after Memorial Day, but I’m also aware that seersucker tends to be a traditionally southern style of dress. I am now presented with the opportunity to attend a post-Memorial day wedding in the Northeast. I intend to wear my suit in an entirely un-ironic way. Can I get away with this?

Seersucker is a very, very bold statement.  As a general rule, it’s best to avoid very, very bold statements at weddings, on the theory that the attention at a wedding should be on the bride, not on the guests.

That said, I think there is room for seersucker at a wedding, particularly considering the contemporary resurgence of the fashion nationwide.  The basics are pretty simple. 

  • As you’ve already figured out, you should follow the weather.  I’d be comfortable going as far back in the year as Easter if it’s hot outside. 
  • You should also follow the time of day - seersucker is at home in the sun, not so much the night.  It’s fine if you’re going to an event that starts at 2, but not so much one that starts at 6.
  • It should fit the occasion.  Don’t show up all Colonel Sanders-ed out to a wedding where everyone else is wearing t-shirts they got from sending in cigarette UPCs.
  • You should do it right.  It should fit and look good.  This advice is a bit more nebulous, but it has to be that way.  It’s key for it not to look like a goofy costume, and that requires some panache on your part, some comfort in the role, and some great execution.

Fulfill those goals and you’ll be golden.  My pal Rob wore seersucker to my San Francisco wedding, and he looked like a million dollars.  It can be done.

It’s On Sale
Seersucker Necktie
$9.99 from $19.99 at Lands’ End

It’s On Sale

Seersucker Necktie

$9.99 from $19.99 at Lands’ End