Linen is traditionally worn in the summer months, but what about the other seasons on the calendar? Should we really be leaving this wonderful, versatile fabric in our wardrobes to fester and never see the light of day until well past Easter? It seems a bit of a shame – as linen can be produced in all shapes and styles – in all colours of the rainbow. So why are we holding back? When to wear linen clothes?
This light fabric is a natural fibre made from the stalks of the flax plant ‘Linum usitatissimum’ (much easier to say ‘linen’!) It has been discovered that this light fabric was being produced as a material for clothing in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. Linen travelled across southern Europe, but it was in fact Belfast in Northern Ireland that became the linen hub of the world in modern times – producing most of the fabric during the Victorian era.
Linen bed linen was popular with the upper classes for its cool and soft feel against the skin, making linen then a mark of wealth and the first choice fabric for the upper classes. Linen is a very breathable material, more so than cotton because of its lower thread counts. For a comparison, an Egyptian cotton bed sheet (famed for its soft and breathable qualities) will start at around a 200 thread count, whereas a similar linen sheet will have a thread count of about 100.
Linen is usually the preferred choice for hot and humid climates, as it has a high moisture absorbency rate, making the wearer feel less hot and sticky. The fabric is also naturally hypoallergenic, meaning any sweat is less likely to break down the linen’s natural fibres – another reason that people choose linen in summer! Find out more Why Linen is Good for Summer.
The nature of linen means that linen clothing is usually saved for casual occasions, but when worn in the correct mix of fabrics can also be great for work – or slightly dressy affairs.
The smarter linen pieces are a tailored blazer, a-line dress or button down shift dress. Linen is the fabric that notoriously creases, so to hide any wrinkles perhaps roll up the sleeves on your blazer or choose a silk-blend cover up or cardigan to cover a creased dress. If it’s a formal occasion, it’s probably best to avoid linen trousers, as they tend to look very wrinkled by the end of the day. Learn more about How to Iron Linen Clothes.
There’s great news for those who prefer a more casual look, as there are a number of ways to wear this fabric very casually indeed. A smart linen t shirt can look great teamed with some light jeans, denim shorts or tucked into a skirt – long or short. If you’re not a fan of showing your legs, a linen-blend pair of trousers or chinos can be a welcoming alternative to shorts – and still cool.
We can see that linen is cool and light, so ideal to wear on hot sticky summer days and nights, but this doesn’t mean linen should stick to one season! Linen can absolutely blend into other seasons – the trick is to mix and match with other fabrics, giving you the freedom to experiment with this beautiful fabric. A lightweight jacket over a linen blouse could be a perfect autumn look, and a cardigan over a linen camisole could easily take you from spring into summer.
This fabric is so very beautiful and always adaptable – it shouldn’t be limited to summer!