There is an unfortunate dichotomy when it comes to linen. On the one hand, the yarn provides a lightweight and breathable option in the warmer climes. On the other hand, it creases at the slightest touch. However, in this case, the positives outweigh the negatives. Whether a structured single-breasted jacket or a loose-fitting button-up shirt, linen garments offer a cool respite against the heat while maintaining a refined structure and elegant aesthetic for smart occasions.
Linen is tricky, and its practicality when it’s warm outside belies a big warning label that reads ‘prone to creasing and looking scruffy’. Now, this is not an absolute certainty. As with most things, it depends what you choose. Small tip – the brighter the colour, the more obvious the creases. This matters less with a shirt, as you will wear something over it, but for a jacket, it is important to choose a suiting linen fabric (ideally 9 oz) that retains breathability and structure in equal measure. This Chester Barrie jacket contrasts with the light blue of this Emma Willis linen shirt and Anderson & Sheppard white linen trousers. It’s a Sebastian Flyte look, but that’s never struck me as a problem, and it shouldn’t be for you either.
My relationship with linen is much like my (brief) relationship with Tinder: I swipe left through the rails of my favourite tailors, noting the promising cuts of this perfect summer dalliance, only to be left disappointed when the time comes to finally give them a whirl. It’s not you linen, darling, it’s me. You see, I have an aversion to creases in smart attire, and no matter how beautifully dishevelled certain Italian men can appear in a linen suit, I just can’t embrace the crumple. That said, take me to the bagni of Forte dei Marmi for a long weekend and a short-sleeved linen shirt is the very expression of sprezzatura, that considered carelessness Italians pull off so well. When combined with Coast’s Society’s smart 50s-style swim shorts and Manebi’s peerless espadrilles, this pistachio version by Richard James transitions from sunbed to restaurant perfectly (my favourite being Gilda, now that you ask).
It’s easy to dress for the heat when you’re pool- or beach-side, coping with stifling temperatures through loose-fitting shirts, shorts, espadrilles and intermittent dips to cool off. But trying to look composed in the city during summer is a whole other problem, to which the solution is, unquestionably, linen. Edward Sexton’s Hollywood top trousers are exceptional in design, and the house’s linen version provide the kind of breeze needed for stuffy days in the office. Pair with an oversized Breton shirt, loafers and a belt to keep the look sharp.
This one is simple. The high-waisted pleated trousers from Anderson & Sheppard are the best in the world. I’ve put them on everyone, and not one person has looked bad or complained about them. Second thing, this Santillo 1970 shirt is basically epic. You can boss it around town or wherever you are and no one will question you. Finally, this ridiculously vibrant pocket handkerchief from Calabrese 1924, just because why wouldn’t you have a bright orange, linen pocket square with parrots printed on it?
Not much comes close to the joyful feeling of floating around town in a pair of trousers that are so lightweight and breathable it’s as if you haven’t got any on at all. Providing mother nature is feeling cordial, they’re going to be my go-to over the next few months. You really should avoid wearing heavy trousers, as there’s nothing worse than feeling that sticky and uncomfortable feeling when the sun’s out. I’m a fan of Anderson & Shepherd’s sky blue, flat-fronted trouser, which is cut from a featherweight herringbone linen, mainly because it’s meant to sit high on the waist. I aim to keep things relatively simple and, when work’s done and dusted, maintain a casual yet relatively smart appearance. So, up top I’d sport a plain white T-shirt tucked in and finish the look with a pair of Belgian loafers.
There is nothing worse than leaving the house, full of confidence that your outfit is not only colour co-ordinated and slimming, but entirely weather appropriate… or so you thought. Countless times I have either been far too hot or far too cold, thanks to stifling synthetic items of clothing. Linen, however, is the only fabric that will guarantee comfort and a sartorial standard, whatever the weather. 100Hands offers a meticulously well-crafted button-down collar Irish linen shirt that will leave you feeling well and truly aired, especially when paired with some Rubinacci antiqued casual cotton trousers and a pair of Stefano Bemer suede chukka boots.
Dressing smart in the summer heat can be difficult, which is why a linen jacket, lightweight yet sophisticated, is such a useful garment. Take this cream Herringbone jacket by Huntsman for example. Featuring a single-breasted closure, notched lapels and structured shoulders, it is elegant and refined, yet the subtle herringbone weave will keep you cool throughout the day. Keep the look youthful and contemporary with a denim shirt underneath, finishing the ensemble with a pair of rich nut-brown leather loafers.