High on the list of summer-tailoring must-haves, is a linen suit. A favourite of Hollywood stars, well-heeled businessmen, and even heads of state, a linen suit can take you effortlessly from a business trip to a summer wedding. Here’s our guide on how to get it right.
What is linen?
True linen is made from flax fibres and was known as ‘linum’ in Latin and ‘linen’ in early German. Modern ‘linen-weave’ fabric is sometimes constructed from or blended with other yarns like silk or cotton.
From separating the fibres of the plant through to weaving the final product, the manufacture of linen is labour-intensive and the cost of a linen suit reflects this.
But you’re paying for effortless style, and the sort of heat and moisture wicking properties that make linen by far the most comfortable of summer suits.
Why choose a linen suit?
Fashion blogger at Menswear Style, Chris Gill says a linen suit
“combines style and practicality whether you’re wearing it for work or a wedding. Linen is the ideal fabric for summer, as it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather”.
As well as keeping you cool and dry, pale linen suits also reflect harsh sunlight. It’s also a wonderfully durable and resistant fabric which, if you look after it, will last a long time.
What to look for in a linen suit
Nothing says summer like linen and it’s a good opportunity to start wearing lighter colours. Think beige, tan, dusky pink or pale grey. White can be tricky to pull off and is probably best left to a-list celebs.
If you’re looking for a smart linen suit for work, you could opt for something with a bit more gravitas, perhaps grey or navy. But avoid bright colours because they don’t really suit the fabric.
Linen does crease. If possible, try giving the fabric a surreptitious scrunch when you’re suit shopping. You don’t want something too stiff – embrace the creases if you can, they’re the sign of a quality fabric and part of a linen suit’s laid back charm.
For a smoother silhouette, it’s best to go for a linen blend. With the addition of cotton, silk, or wool, your suit will trade a little of its climate controlling coolness for better shape retention and fewer creases.
As fashion blogger The Everyday Man says:
“My personal favourite is a linen blend material. These are still the epitome of summer but don’t tend to wrinkle quite as much as full linen construction.”
Caring for your suit
Linen is quite a resilient fabric, as long as you don’t beat it about too much.
Fashion blogger The Shy Stylist says:
“One thing to be mindful of is that, despite its strength, the fibers will break if they are repeatedly folded and ironed along the same line, so be careful when pressing.”
Linen shirts and trousers are best washed by hand or gentle machine cycle, but a linen suit needs professional cleaning. If you take care of it, you should be able to get away with a single clean during the course of the summer. In the meantime, give your suit a good brush after each outing to keep it at its best.
The best accessories
You’ll need a seasonal shoe to go with your linen suit. Loafers are a good choice: a classic penny loafer or a dapper-looking tassel will cap things off nicely.
Plain white cotton shirts will keep you feeling and looking cool, although a stripe does add a dash of panache. Pale or navy blue shirts also work well with most linen suits.
The relaxed look of a linen suit often means you can lose the tie, but for a pop of colour, try adding a jaunty pocket square to exude confident summer style.
Do you have any linen suit tips? Do let us know via our Facebook page