A Guide to Linen: What It Is and How to Wear It

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The stalks of the flax plant Linum usitatissimum are used to create linen, a natural fabric. There is evidence to support the idea that Egypt had a linen manufacturing sector going on more than 4,000 years ago. The Phoenicians eventually brought knowledge of the methods used to produce linen into southern Europe, but Belfast in Northern Ireland finally rose to prominence as the world’s center for linen production, providing nearly all of the fabric during the Victorian era.

The higher classes coveted bed linen because it was cold and pleasant against the skin and served as a symbol of riches and social standing. Since apparel now makes up a very small portion of the linen farmed today, a well-sourced and maintained linen shirt is an even more significant addition to your wardrobe.


As illustrated by British actor Bill Nighy in an interview he gave The Telegraph in 2010, while a premium fabric like cashmere has gone completely popular (with a great variety of lower-grade yarns available on the market), linen continues to be a divisive material. Never believe a man wearing linen. A man in a linen suit makes it difficult for me to unwind. The worst offenders are those who risk linen, and unstructured suits on men are unnerving.

However, a large number of sophisticated French and Italian guys can pull off the slightly crumpled appearance with ease. What gives, then? First and foremost, linen is in a way an insult to very British taste because creases have historically been despised in British fashion. They are the antithesis of the suit-and-boots gentlemanly look.


The simplest approach to appreciate linen’s comfortable crumpledness and wear it with confidence is with a linen suit. Simple two-pieces are the best option for a laid-back summer wedding, especially if you’re tan. They help you avoid the heat while still looking fashionable.

To add in both contrasting textures and patterns, complete the look with a gingham shirt made of clean cotton.




Go half on your suit with a smartly cut linen blazer to keep things light but still professional. Keep your trousers well pressed in a dark cotton or cotton blend as they are more likely to crease from sitting down. Instead, choose a lighter blazer for the top.

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For a great go-to weekend outfit, this can easily be paired with jeans or chinos.




When it comes to summer clothing, a linen shirt is a great all-arounder. A well-cut sky blue version can sit over a T-shirt and shorts to dress up a casual ensemble or slide under a suit to soften one that is more formal due to its relaxed appeal.


Simply because a man’s crotch has its own atmospheric issues in warm climates, pure linen trousers can be challenging. Given the absorbency of linen, trousers may become crooked and untidy-looking. Dark suit colors like blue work well to mask this; however, if using lighter hues, go for a linen blend instead to keep everything appearing put together.

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