Woven linen is the quintessential Summer fabric and very popular in Europe across ladies and menswear as soon as temperatures rise. I can’t think of a breezier and more classic Summer fabric than linen. It screams beach vacation, the turquoise Mediterranean sea, and the Italian Amalfi Coast. Linen is available in every colour and in some great patterns across almost all Summer wardrobe items. When lightweight, it’s a great fabric as a cover-up for sun protection.
The downside of fabrics that are 100% or rich in linen is that they are very prone to creasing. You have to be at peace with the crease when you wear them. They can also be a little hard, stiff, scratchy, and heavy. But there’s a lot of lovely linen that’s soft to the touch, light, and gentle against the skin. Linen blends that reduce the high wrinkle factor are available too. But you tend to lose the natural integrity of linen when it’s combined with synthetic fibres like polyester and nylon. Linen blended with silk, viscose, cotton and rayon keeps the fabric natural. Personally, I like linen that’s remixed with cotton. It’s really soft, delicate, breathable, and feels luscious against the skin.
Knitted linen tees and sweaters can be nice in linen blends. In my experience linen knits don’t crease as much, and drape better than their woven cousins. I like the gauzy and texture-rich appearance of linen knitwear.
My clientele, friends and family vary greatly on how linen features in their style. Linen knits are generally more popular than linen wovens. Some love it and wear it all Summer long, and some won’t wear linen at all. Some will wear it in tops and knits, and that’s it. Some will wear one linen item at a time, but not head-to-toe. Some like to wear linen bottoms but not the tops. And some wear linen dresses.
I always have linen in my wardrobe, and usually in tops and dresses. Hubs Greg wears long-sleeved linen shirts with scrunched sleeves in the Summer with jeans, cotton pants, or shorts. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s I wore a LOT of woven linen across all sorts of colours. I wore linen tops, pants, skirts, waistcoats, dresses, long shorts, and jackets, which worked very well in the hot Cape Town heat. The offices and factories I worked in were not always air-conditioned, making linen a saving grace. Many around me wore linen, so I looked appropriately creased with everyone else.
Personally, I don’t mind linen creasing one bit. I find it to be part of the charm, and soothing in a carefree way. Relaxed, yet chic. A familiar fabric I grew up with. I mind the creasing a little more in pants and a jacket, but would still wear them if I loved the item.
I have some woven linen shirts at the moment and not much else. But that can change. If we have another hot and sunny Seattle Summer without air conditioning, I’ll be focussing on some lightweight linen tops and dresses.
Over to you. How does linen feature in your style?