We're getting close to the time of year when you can start to wear linen - unless you're Luciano Barbera who at times prefers to wear a linen shirt in winter "to remind him that summer will be here soon . . ." Linen shirts are a particular favorite of mine. Though I don't agree with Mr. Barbera on wearing them in winter (unless I'm at the beach). More so due to the function of it than than the fashion. Linen shirts breathe very well which make them an ideal choice for summer - but terribly cold in the winter. Linen's biggest knock? Wrinkles. Oh the dreaded wrinkle. Damn imperfection! Yes linen does wrinkle. As Mr. Faubion likes to mention, "linen is guaranteed to wrinkle. Bring it back if it doesn't." But you should not let this bother you, rather embrace it. Nothing feels better against the skin than a freshly pressed linen shirt (linen should be pressed as it can feel scratchy if not ironed). The eventual wrinkles of linen (like one's face) is part of life, giving you a certain disheveled elegance. Instead of imagining yourself as the Dude who has that "just rolled out of bed" look, think of yourself as Mr. Hemingway on a big game hunt in Tanzania relaxing at camp after a day's hunt enjoying a gin and tonic. (I'm a big fan of the Dude so that wasn't meant to be pejorative).
For those who are more fastidious and dislike wrinkles, a cotton-linen blend could be a suitable alternative. A cotton-linen shirt still breathes better than most cottons but will wrinkle less that a 100% linen. Cotton-linen make great shirts and pants (our own private label and the Incotex famed "chino-lino" are two examples). Linen shirts can certainly be worn with a tie (the collar permitting). The tie should complement the shirt. A linen tie or linen-blend tie works great as does a silk grenadine. I wouldn't recommend a very dressy tie. Thus, linen shirts can take you from work to the weekend. They're great for a beach shirt, or to wear to a barbeque. I'm writing primarily to men in this post, but the same rules could be said for women. Our linen shirts for women from Massimo Alba, Etro and 0039 are very easy to wear. They can be worn under jacket for a summer luncheon or with cargos or a cropped jean for a more casual look. Bottom line advice when wearing linen shirts: Roll up the sleeves, embrace the wrinkles, and enjoy!
Hemingway writing in his journal.
Luciano Barbera and Lawrence Covell linen shirts.
Lawrence Covell lavender check linen shirt.