A versatile fabric that comes into its own during the summer months, linen is cool and comfortable due to its unique heat-retardent properties. Derived from the flax plant, it’s highly-permeable, structural weave allows air to flow through and around the cloth, allowing the body to breathe efficiently.
But that’s not the only way linen helps you keep your cool. The fabric is also highly absorbent and a good conductor of heat. This means body heat escapes readily, resulting in clothing that feels cool to the touch and is able to quickly wick perspiration from the skin.
In fact, due to its makeup, linen can absorb up to a fifth of its weight before it becomes damp or wet. Some reports have revealed linen can keep you 3-4°C cooler than when wearing silk or cotton, and make you 1.5 times less likely to perspire. No wonder we keep coming back to it summer after summer.
Creasing and Wrinkles
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: yes, linen does crease and wrinkle easily. Is there anything you can do about it? No.
It doesn’t matter how careful you are, you’ve got to learn to embrace the creases. Considered them charming/worn in/lived in attributes that give your clothing, and outfit, character.
Of course, you should always aim to leave the house in wrinkle-free condition. To help tackle any last-minute creases before you leave, try steaming or starching your clothing. However, the best option is to iron your linen garments when they are slightly damp using a high steam iron with a water spray mist.
Key Linen Pieces Every Man Should Own
A wool suit in the height of summer is the stuff of sweaty nightmares. So for those times when you have to look professional (business meetings) or presentable (weddings) linen is the smart sartorialist’s choice.
This wonder material will genuinely allow you to wear trousers and a blazer in the heat, all while eliminating the risk of discomfort and unsightly sweat patches.
Even if you don’t need to be suited and booted for work, a linen two-piece makes an excellent addition to your tailoring rotation. Not only can you wear it as intended for those occasions that demand a degree of formality, you can also split it up and use each garment as separates for smart-casual gatherings.
For some a suit that creases is a turn off, and if that’s you then consider a version blended with cotton – the latter makes it much more resilient. Similarly, darker shades will help disguise any creasing. But again, those wrinkles will help to dial down the stuffiness and add some personality, giving off a welcome air of sprezzatura.
When shopping for linen, a shirt should be at the top of your list. This laid-back summer favourite is the quintessential linen garment and the perfect alternative to that Oxford cloth button-down you wear the rest of the year.
Long-sleeve versions are the perfect companion to your linen or cotton tailoring, giving you the buttoned-up aesthetic without the sweaty back, while short-sleeve designs are an essential addition to any vacation wardrobe, keeping you smart yet comfortable on those long, sun-drenched days abroad.
As far as shorts go, there’s a tendency among men to stick to three key styles: chino, tailored and swimming. Linen is often overlooked, which is a crying shame in our humble opinion, as it offers one of the best comfort, style and practicality propositions you’re likely to get from any type of summer legwear.
Opt for a neutral pair in a straight or slim cut that finishes just above the knee. The combination of lightweight fabric and classic styling means these type of shorts can happily stride directly from the beach to the bar, making them a must-pack when travelling.
Match with other smart-casual pieces such as polos, camp collar shirts and loafers to channel a sense of Riviera sophistication.
Full-length legwear is notoriously tricky to nail in the summer months. Jeans, chinos and dress pants – the styles that normally have our backs come rain or shine – can be hot and uncomfortable when the mercury rises. That’s why linen trousers are a modern essential.
Able to be dressed up with a shirt and blazer or down with a simple T-shirt and sneakers, you’ll get plenty of use out of them during that unexpected heatwave that arrives every year.
When it comes to fit, prioritise straight cuts that allow for good airflow. If you opt for anything too skinny then you’re fighting against everything that makes this breathable fabric so great in the heat. Plus, no one likes to be sweaty ‘down there’.