The Guide: Linen
Spring has sprung, and we’re using the occasion to revisit some of our favorite warm-weather suiting fabrics. We’re going to kick things off with linen, which has been an inspiration to everyone from the Ancient Egyptians to Elton John (“lay me down in sheets of linen…”)
So, what exactly is linen? It’s a cloth made out of the fibers of the flax plant. It’s also one of the oldest textiles known to man: it proved popular in ancient Egypt, where it was used to wrap mummies.
These days it sees more use as a spring/summer fabric, thanks to its lighter weight and soft feel. It also has a unique, crisp texture that’s more prone to wrinkling than cotton. But don’t break out that iron just yet: the natural rumpling is what gives linen its laid-back, casual cool.
That causal factor means that you’re likely to see linen suits in brighter, softer shades. This makes them less formal, but great choices for weddings, parties, and those more creative workplaces that appreciate a moss-colored lightweight suit. You can wear them with the same types of ties and shirts you’d wear with your wool suits, but their causal texture makes them especially suited to grenadines and knit silks. For extra points, pair them with linen pocket square and double-down on the fabric’s rich, textural appeal.
Because linen suits are less smooth and more matte than wool suits, their jackets can be easily worn as sport coats instead (and their trousers worn as standalone pants). For a great business casual look, break out the linen jacket and pair it with your favorite chinos. You can keep the tie and pocket square, or subtract them depending on whatever dress code the situation calls for.
You can go full-casual with a linen suit jacket, too: think jeans and a gingham shirt. In this context, any wrinkles your jacket may have picked up from a redeye flight or a wedding dance floor will only make it look better.