Style: A guide to Linen
Linen is a very absorbent and cooling fabric, perfect for the hot and humid summer months. The fabric itself is made from fibers of the flax plant, but textures woven in a linen weave can also be referred to simply as linen. The textile dates to thousands of years ago but today is synonymous with suits, dresses, bags and other household and daily accessories.
Look and Feel
Because of the fibers of the flax plant, linen fabric often feels cool to the touch. It is also textured, but continues to get softer with each wash. The fibers fold and crease easily, but with too many irons, they can break. The fibers also do not pill and remain lint free. The fabric is very strong and durable overall; in fact, it feels stronger when it is wet. Linen does not stretch, which keeps garments and other items looking the same as they did when first made. However, because of the poor elasticity in the fabric, linen has a tendency to wrinkle quite easily. Some people see this as a charming quality of wearing linen.
The natural colors of linen are gray, tan and ivory. Bright, brilliant whites are typically the result of bleaching. The fabric also comes in different weights, from the lightest to a thicker, more rough weight. You do need to be careful when laundering linen. While resistant to moths, it is easily damaged by bleach, mildew and even perspiration.
Because linen is light-weight yet durable, it makes for the perfect fabric to turn into clothing. Linen suits, shirts and pants are all easy to find going into the spring and summer months. This versatile fabric can be worn with other textures and fabrics. Linen shirts look great paired with chinos and jeans or even a light weight wool. Pants and shorts also look great when paired with a casual polo or bright, light weight sweater. Linen blazers are also a great, stylish way to pull together a casual outfit. They can be paired with a simple t-shirt and shorts or a button down and khakis. If you're not one to wear a linen piece of clothing, many accessories, like pocket squares are found in linen.
Linen suits are better saved for vacation or special days out. They can be hard to wear around the office as they wrinkle so easily. It is also best to pair a long sleeve button down shirt cotton or linen shirt with the suit. While ties are not necessary when wearing a linen suit, if you do choose to wear one it is a good idea to stay with the summer theme. Seer-sucker ties or light-weight ties work best and are still staying seasonally appropriate.
Wearing colors with linen is very easy to do and encouraged. Most linen will come in great neutral colors, making it perfect to match with bright colors or more muted tones. If you are able to find colored linen shirts, they pair best with more neutral pants and jackets. Linen blazers look great paired with jeans. When wearing a suit, bright colored shirts pair well with a white or lighter colored linen. This bold look will make you stand out so if you're not ready for that, more muted tones or white look great against darker linens.
Caring For Linen
The fibers in this fabric are stiff, which is perfect for removing moisture, but means that once they bend, they stay that way. This is why you see so many wrinkles in linen and why you must pay special attention to ironing and steaming. Using a washing machine will make the fabric softer over time while dry-cleaning will keep it on the stiff side with crisp folds. It is best to air-dry linen at home and then iron it while still damp. The hot setting of the iron paired with some steam works perfectly on getting out tough folds and wrinkles.
Ultimately linen is a great fabric to wear in the hot summer months, and very high our list of recommended summer style. Every man should have some sort of linen in his wardrobe whether pants, shirts or a suit. While keeping it wrinkle free takes some effort, the final look is worth it and stylish. Don't forget that linen can be worn as accessories as well! A great linen pocket square will pair nicely and adds texture with a classic navy suit.