Photo by Salt Water New England

Monday, May 24, 2021

Reader Question: Do you wear linen, and if so, how?

 

Dear Muffy,

I have a question for the community which is, what are their thoughts on linen?   While I love the idea of linen in theory, I have yet to find a good use case for it.  

If I dry a linen shirt in the dryer the arms come out twisted.  It always feel rough when I first put it in on whether I have air dried it or hung it on a hanger.  I have also found it to be a bit clingy and see-through.   But maybe I simply haven't found a high enough quality of linen.

And maybe I should just stick to jackets and caps, but what about trousers?  Might I have better luck there? 

Thank you! 

 

19 comments:

  1. odd coincidence that I'm wearing linen pants and a linen shirt (both fresh and crisp from the laundry service), but I live in New Orleans and linen is essential to make it through the tropical weather down here.

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  2. I have a Polo linen suit that I wear a few times after the start of the fall semester each August and September when the weather can still be quite warm. It wrinkles when you look at it, but it is almost like having nothing on at all, which can be an advantage when teaching in old buildings/classrooms without adequate AC and filled with writhing. student bodies.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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  3. A staple where humidity reigns supreme!

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  4. I never put my linen pants or shirts in the dryer. Air dry and then do a reasonable ironing before wearing. Wrinkled linen is redundant. Wear and be cool.

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  5. I’m transferring to one of my organisation’s offices in East Africa this summer. Colleagues there tell me it’s unbearably hot and humid all year. I’m stocking up long sleeved (to keep mosquitos off) on blue, white, and pale pink polo and brooks brothers linen shirts in an effort to beat the heat.

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    1. 40 years ago I lived in one of East Africa’s hot countries. 90 degrees +, 24 hours a day, 5 months of the year. People, men and women, in this part of the world, still wear loose fitting, long flowing robes. Such garments keep the skin protected from the hot sun. Heat discomfort is directly correlated to skin temperature. Ask someone who lives in the Ogaden Desert, where there is little electricity, much less air conditioning. Today, we live in southern New England. When the temperatures rise into the 80’s, working in the garden and casually in town, I wear button down long sleeve linen shirts, (ok I usually role up the sleeves), and often linen pants, not shorts. Linen may wrinkle more quickly than cotton. But it is much cooler. It is more durable, and dries faster, than cotton.

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  6. You are doubtless familiar with the way a certain cohort seems to live in old, soft, unironed khakis and OCBDS, are you not? Apply that same insouciance to linen. The one exception is linen napkins, and I iron mine so that they look crisp. Of course draping it over my lap is not really the same as wearing it!

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  7. Linen feels like a hairshirt to me and it wrinkles too easily for me. For tailoring, Irish linen is better than Italian linen. For summer shirts and shorts, Indian madras cotton is a much better choice.

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  8. Seconding everyone's comments about the proper way to dry (air) and the softer version to wear (Irish.) When you're enduring especially hot climes and counting the minutes until the evening's icy cold G&T's, linen is and has always been the way to go.

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  9. Linen is the best! I wear it all through late spring, summer and early fall. As mentioned above, air dry it...it makes it thicker and eventually softer. I have light blue and tan suits with interchangeable skirts and pants (dry clean), tunic and button down shirts, sleeveless shirts and tanks, trousers and drawstring pants in navy, green and stripes and black, as well as a fantastic black linen short sleeve dress that hits just above my ankles. There are also blends of linen/cotton/silk and linen/rayon that can help bridge seasons. O'Connells and Rani Arabella have some beautiful high end pieces, and you can find excellent basics at LLBean, Uniqlo (Isabelle de la Fresange) or Etsy..for instance Menique Eliana or Olivia organic linen dress...available in 25 colors including a beautiful Moroccan red. You could also go bespoke...many hong kong tailors will custom make men's or women's linen clothing.

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  10. I wear linen year round (yes, I do!) I always air dry and I am not afraid to wear it rumpled. It also helps that my husband is retired British military- he is a pro at ironing whatever needs ironing!

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  11. Linen pants are a wonderful way to beat the heat. An air dry and light pressing are all that’s required and they do soften with time.

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  12. It's interesting to read everyone's opinions of linen. I wear linen quite a lot but I'm not an expert on the fabric and actually prefer cotton. When I purchase linen it needs to be soft but substantial. If it's thin,rough or stiff, I won't purchase it. I also don't find that all types of linen are cool in the heat and humidity. Some linen feels very hot and scratchy to me. Years ago, LL Bean made beautiful women's linen/cotton blend shirts that were substantial but cool and didn't wrinkle. I believe it is because of the cotton blend. I loved those shirts but for several years now they make thin, stiff and rough linen shirts and pants that I won't purchase. I also won't buy thin linen or cotton shirts that require me to wear a cami or tank under it. What's the point of layering when trying to stay cool in the summer?
    I wash my linen in cold water, add fabric softener, hang to dry and then fluff them in the drier. I don't mind the puckers.

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  13. All of my sheets are linen. It is a joy to crawl into bed, summer or winter.

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  14. I tend to prefer linen at the height of summer when the temp goes higher than 30°C with high humidity. I wear linen shift dresses, dress shirts and tunics.

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  15. Good quality linen is a very serviceable fabric. I still wear a pair of linen shorts I bought in the mid-90s. I also have a linen suit, linen overshirt and a couple of linen/cotton shirts. It's a great fabric for humid days.

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  16. I really miss high quality, good, true seersucker. Cooler than linen and one doesn't look like a hot wrinkled mess after wearing it for a few hours.

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  17. I dearly love linen and agree that linen sheets are a delight year-round. Rather than ironing, I find steaming is a bit better - it gets the creases out and retains the softness. I've never found linen to be scratchy after it has been washed. Embracing the wrinkles with insouciance, as Vecchio Vespa has said, is the key to enjoying it from crisp in the morning to rumpled in the evening.

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  18. There is nothing better than 100% linen sheets dried on the clothesline in the sun and ocean breeze----no wrinkles, just crisp linen sheets ready for the bed; the smell is amazing. Really all linen should be dried outside on the line then it's easily ironed.

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