The trend-spotting notes in my daily newspaper recently reported that seersucker — a lightweight fabric with a crimped or puckered surface— was the fashionable fabric for the coming summer. This is despite clothes made from it looking as though they had been badly ironed or that the wearer had slept in them. (I am told that the way to give the fabric that crinkled look is to weave together fibres that shrink differently.)
Nick Foulkes wrote in the Sunday Telegraph recently that British wearers intend the seersucker suit to convey “a dashing transatlantic look that is a little bit George Plimpton and a touch F. Scott Fitzgerald”. Or perhaps Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird. For me the seersucker suit evokes a world-weary foreign correspondent in some tropical clime, suffering from heat and excess alcohol.
This is not meant to sound harsh about Jack O’Brine, who just must have been trying to earn twenty bucks a week in a limp seersucker suit, and who has to be long dead, even as his newspaper is long out of business.
Hemingway’s Boat, by Paul Hendrickson, 2011.
Originally, in the eighteenth century, seersucker was striped Indian cotton, the stripes being the identifying feature. You can tell that from the original name, the Persian shir o shakar, literally “milk and sugar”, in reference to what we would now call its candy stripes.
Search World Wide Words
Recently added or updated
Bob’s-a-dying; Methinks; Bill of goods; Binge-watching; Codswallop; That’s all she wrote; Great Scott; Gone for a Burton; Pull the plug; Bob’s your uncle; Gibberish; You snowing me?; Chi-ike; Salop; Hairy eyeballs; Broom-squire; Latrinalia; Charon; True blue; Nakation; Hands off?; Who coined forecast?; Vigintillion; Hingle; Bookaneer; Pig sick; Adimpleate; Deodand; Ilk; Fowler’s Modern English Usage; Skint; Vellichor; Galoot; Crizzling; Caparisoned.
Support World Wide Words!
Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.
Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you. Select your preferred site and click Go!