I’ve been helping some of my clients put together airy, breezy and elegant casual Summer looks in linen and linen blends. Some will wear this look in Seattle because they run warm. Others are saving their outfits for hot weather holidays. And a few will wear them while entertaining at home in a very relaxed setting. 

Drawstring Waist Slouchy Capri PantsDrawstring Waist Slouchy Capri Pants

Linen and its uncontrollable creasing evokes a myriad of responses, as we saw after yesterday’s post on linen pants. If linen is not your thing, substitute the look with linen blends, cotton, or cotton blends because those options tend to crease a little less than 100% linen. 

Looking hopelessly unpolished when you wear unstructured linen or linen-esque outfits was another concern. I’ve found that pairing the look with a neater hairstyle, make-up, and well groomed feet and hands goes a long way to creating a more polished effect. And of course, creating just enough structure in the outfit. 

The colour palette is up to you. Personally, I like the look best in neutrals, especially in shades of white, grey, tan and taupe. I also like the occasional pastel thrown into the mix, like mint, blush or baby blue with shades of white.

Casual Linen and Sandals

Here are the components:

Linen Bottoms: Linen or cotton blends in loose styles are ideal. Choose a pull-on style, or a structured waistband. Think wide leg pants, or baggy pants that are tapered at the hems. Cropped and full length will both work. Slightly more structured Roll-Up City Chinos in cotton are a great alternative if linen is not your cup of tea. Wear the chinos loose and a little more on your hips than on your waist. Roll them at the hems for a more fashionable look.

Whenever my clients and I try this look with dark bottoms like navy or black, it doesn’t quite create the same effect. Lighter bottoms look better somehow, especially in white or cream. If you wear the pants loose, the see-through factor of white is very manageable. Wear them with an untucked top and it’s even better. 

Linen or Cotton Pullover: You’re after a very lightweight slubby, gauzy and slouchy pullover in a linen or cotton blend with the neckline of your choice. Pointelle pullovers worn over cotton tank tops work well too. Think solids, shadow stripes or low contrast stripes. You’ll probably feel quite sloppy if you wear a tee with these types of bottoms, so stick to Summer knitwear to give the pants more polish. 

It is important to create just enough structure with this outfit so that you don’t feel badly put together. So do not wear the top too long. Slightly shorter or cropped is usually better over baggy bottoms. Pullovers with shark-bite hems, welts, high-low hemlines, or curved hemlines are fab. For extra structure, make sure that longer sleeves are tapered, and scrunch them to showcase forearm skin.

Sandals: This look is made for sandals. You need to show your feet because showcasing skin creates structure. Furthermore, sandals allow you to create polish by exposing well-groomed feet. Personally, I like the look with a fairly flat sandal, but casual wedges and espadrilles are good too. Think light colours to match light bottoms. White Birkies are also fab. 

Accessories: I added a slubby linen scarf in a soft design. Pastel scarves are another way to go. It’s not essential to wear the scarf, but it does add depth and drama to the outfit. A statement necklace can look fab too. You’re also after a light-coloured casual bag. Think fashionable backpack, tote, hobo, bucket bag or straw bag. Finish off the look with jewellery, eyewear, headgear and watch as desired. 

This combination keeps you cool and covered on a hot day sans air conditioning. By creating sufficient structure, and getting the rest of the details right, it’s a chic and elegant look that’s pretty timeless and ageless.