How to wear linen: The rules according to Toad

Linen. It’s summer’s most versatile fabric (fact) and a seasonal wardrobe staple for discerning ladies and gentlemen alike. It’s once more risen to prominence recently for its timeless appeal, breathe-ability, ability to be worn both casually and semi-formally, and because it simply exudes summer. So of course, we’ve always been a big fan. Thankfully, quality linen clothing is more accessible than ever and most self-respecting global apparel brands feature it (or at least a decent linen shirt) within their summer collections.

Linen is effortlessly stylish when worn well. However, it is an unforgiving fabric when worn badly, and it never ceases to amaze us how so many people get it oh-so-wrong. So follow our simple style guide to avoid a linen faux-pas and you’ll be embracing this fabric all summer long.

Photo: Malkin & Toad

1. Wear it loose – so buy at least a size larger than standard.

Linen is meant to be worn loosely. It looks better this way, while keeping you cool and leveraging its exceptional breathe-ability. It also shrinks with wear and washing. So do yourself a favour and wear at least a size bigger than you would otherwise (say, for a cotton shirt). Tight linen is a summer crime you can’t afford to commit.

Malkin & Toad
Photo: Malkin & Toad

2. Long sleeves only, gentlemen

Short sleeves on linen shirts should be banned. Except if you’re Jerry Seinfeld and plan on wearing them while on vacation at Club Med Fort Lauderdale, accompanying your sandals with socks. Don’t go there.

Long sleeves only. Roll them up to or just below your elbows (but not higher). Don’t ask us why this is a rule of linen shirts – it just is.

3. Embrace the crush

Linen is that fabric from summery heaven that somewhat forgives the crushed look. Because ironing while on holiday is excellent use of your prime time – said no one ever.

Soft crinkles on linen pair perfectly with summer sea air and a relaxed afternoon breeze. Think of it like salty beach hair on Giselle Bundchen. Effortless and dead sexy.

Bed hair on Giselle? Less so. Unless she’s just rolled out of your bed.

Oh, if even if your linen shirt has ‘bed hair’, just hang it in the shower to let steam do its thing, or spray with water and hang out in the breeze. No iron necessary.

4. Keep your colour combo’s simple

It’s not rocket science, friends. Sporting a pair of Malkin & Toad swimming shorts down below? They look amazing worn with a linen shirt (you’re welcome, thanks for asking). Just keep the shirt to a solid white or pastel, or a subtle stripe at most.

Wearing plain or lighter coloured shorts or chinos? You have our permission to go bolder with the shirt – think richer solid colours or block stripes.

Photo: Dundas London
Photo: Dundas London

5. Linen Downunder?

We believe linen has form across all garments. Blazers – hell yes. Shirts – everyday summer staple. Linen trousers or shorts? It’s a cautious yes – but try not to look like Kanye West gate-crashing the Bridgehampton Polo. It can go either way – but wear with conviction.

6. And something for the girls

Ladies – get yourself a linen shirt-dress or boyfriend-shirt. Loose fitting, breezy and effortlessly cool. You’ll be owning your summer, not to mention the gentlemen around you.

Elle Est Grece
Photo: Elle Est Grece

Brands we love

Dundas London Classic, simple and timeless linen shirting from the motherland – England. If Prince Harry likes them, so do we.

J.Crew The American outfitter fabulously blends timeless prep, strong quality, affordable pricing and a healthy lack of pretense. 

Jasmine & Will The brand helping Australian women & the world sleep in style, with navy blue & luxurious linen both prominent.

Muji We love the no-frills design aesthetic and consistently of quality in the Japanese brand’s range of linen clothing.

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