Generally speaking, linen has a bit of a suspect reputation amongst the style conscious. It’s a tricky material to tame, creating creases at every moment and movement, and is commonly associated with dodgy holidaywear in loose, unforgiving proportions. But, with a lower thread count than cotton, it is, as you know, highly practical, allowing breathability and air flow to the skin – which is why we must take advantage of this most enigmatic of materials when the humidity and heat hits the country.
To help you shed your long-held doubts over the linen shirt, we’ve compiled a few suggestions of the sleekest, most luxurious options to try right now – and we also address that equally puzzling question of what to wear with them.
Stick with the classics for the return to the office
Now that the big migration back to the office, whether part- or full-time, is under way, you’ll need to re-evaluate your formalwear, given that it’s been over two years since you’ve had to regularly schlep to your place of work. If you’re thinking of heading back in, a linen shirt’s breathable, open structure will be a saviour during those long, airless commutes or in a thronged boardroom on balmier days. As a starting point, go for a white option – perhaps one by legendary shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser – as it can be matched with countless other formal pieces – then dress it with New & Lingwood’s equally timeless pair of navy trousers that are crafted in a summer-friendly cotton seersucker. When it comes to carting around your files, laptop and other business essentials, eschew the heavy-leather bag in favour of a brighter, lighter material; The Brief, by Bennett Winch, is a sleek choice – and is also waterproof, a handy feature for when the British weather (inevitably) takes a turn.
Turnbull & Asser White Linen Shirt
New & Lingwood Navy Seersucker Flat Front Trousers
Bennett Winch The Brief
Add some pattern for off-duty moments
If you mainly lean on pared-back clothing and items in solid-block colours, but are thinking about adding a degree of pattern into your wardrobe, consider investing in a thin-stripe shirt; neither as bold as paisley and more versatile than a gingham check, it offers a subtle touch of interest to an outfit without drawing too much attention. Emma Willis’s Blue LA Stripe is an elegant option, and is finished off with mother-of-pearl buttons and a soft-collar lining. Moreover, if the climes really do soar, double down on the linen and try out New & Lingwood’s single-pleat trousers in a complementary shade of cream. For footwear, avoid the ubiquitous Stan Smiths and lace up a pair of Aurélien’s unembellished Cambridge sneaker.
Emma Willis Blue LA Stripe
New & Lingwood Cream Single Pleat Linen Trousers
Aurélien Cambridge Sneaker White
Inject colour into your poolside ensemble
When sitting by a pool – or any body of water, in fact – we recommend you avoid sun-soaking darker tones and opt, instead, for pieces that help brighten things up a little. This mustard-toned choice by New & Lingwood is rich in its hue, meaning it veers well away from the fluorescent end of the colour scale, and is best counterbalanced by a dark pair of swim shorts, such as Gusari’s blue-navy-and-white-patterned The London. Round things off with TBD Eyewear’s squared tortoise-shell-frame sunglasses, which make for a nice change from the usual black wayfarers found everywhere.
New & Lingwood Mustard Soft Collar Standard Fit Linen Shirt
Gusari The London
TBD Eyewear Donegal