Cotton Seersucker Fabric Is Favorite Cotton Clothing for Centuries

The only thing cooler than a cotton seersucker fabric dress on a hot summer day is a popsickle.

A crisp seersucker suit was the natural uniform of every imperial British gentleman and Cold War spy stationed in a tropical country during for nearly 200 years.

Today this fabric in cotton and cotton blends remains a perennial choice for women's summer clothing.

Favorite Fabric With Long Exotic History

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The enduring popularity of seersucker-dresses, seersucker shirts, seersucker jackets, seersucker pants, seersucker shorts, and seersucker robes proves that a cool fiber is required for a hot summer fashion.

Cotton seersucker fabric features stripes and natural crinkles woven into the fabric.

The crinkles are made by pulling some threads tighter than others during weaving (Elsevier Dictionary of Science and Technology.

Why Wrinkles Create A Cool and Cooling Fabric

These crinkles keep the fabric from adhering too tightly too the skin and create natural wicking for sweat.

This was an incalcuble benefit in the days before air-conditioning when all bwana had was a palm frond for a breeze.

Even better, those crinkly stripes mean it's downright useless to iron seersucker cloth. This fabric is supposed to look rumpled.

Worn from the Old South to Today's Senate

This combination of natural cooling and natural wrinkles makes seersucker a natural for summer fashion.

Seersucker fabric has, in the U.S., been associated at various times with the lower classes and the upper crust.

Gentleman of the Old South wore seersucker cotton fabric suits in the summer.

Seersucker is only one variety of the versatile cotton fiber that we have loved for centuries. Women's cotton clothing includes pique, voile, flannel, and an increasing number of easy-care blends, such as cotton-linen, cotton-rayon and a list that is sure to keep growing as research continues.

During the 1990s, Senator Trent Lott created the tradition of Seersucker Thursday in late June to remind Senators of their august past. Female senators also now join in the custom, according to the U.S. Senate's website.

Where Did We Get That Word, Seersucker?

The recorded use in English of the term seersucker was traced to 1722 by Word Histories and Mysteries as Sea Sucker.

English has corrupted a Hindi word sīrsakar, meaning milk and sugar. This wasn't the first instance of cultural borrowing in the history of this interesting fashion fabric.

The ancient Sanskrit word for sugar, śarkara, -- we’re talking sixth century now -- had been cribbed by the Persians, whose language in turn was spread all around central and Southeast Asia when Tamberlane and the Mongols set up an empire in the 1300s.

Then, as now, exotic wares from other countries were trendy trades.

From Sanskrit to Persian to Hindi to English: A Word's Journey

The Persian compound word shīroshakar is literally "milk and sugar" but was the figurative expression for a striped linen garment.

One source suggests that the metaphoric meaning of cotton seersucker fabric comes from the ripple effect of milk on a mound of sugar.

Navy blue and white seersucker stripes was the only color available for years. It came in a thin pinstripe.

Today's Cotton Seersucker Fabric Offers Variety of Colors, Stripe Widths

Today, the width of the stripes may vary, and so many the colors. Colors include gray-white, green-white, red-white stripes, and even multi-color stripes.

Seersucker robes are hunted relentlessly by shoppers. Seersucker dresses, seersucker suits, seersucker shirts, seersucker skirts, seersucker shorts, seersucker pants, and even seersucker sandals may be had as women's summer clothing if you keep your eyes open.

Other popular trends for summer fashion cotton clothing are tropical print clothing, including their latest incarnation as bird print fabric.

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White suits are a perennial favorite, as is nautical style.

To wrap it all up, cotton seersucker fabric is used in everything from business suits to patio robes and pajamas. The waffle weave naturally wicks sweat from the skin and make this textile a cool and cooling choice for women's summer clothing.

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