How to Wear Linen
Nothing says Summer like linen. As soon as you see it in the shop, you immediately picture yourself in it, lounging gracefully on a poolside chaise longue, spritz in hand, laughing delightfully at a joke you just made.
But it's not all sunshine and spritzers when it comes to linen. It is notoriously difficult to wear. You only have to look at it sideways for it to crease. And no matter how much you iron or steam those creases, it will never return to its pristine, just-off-the-rack condition ever, ever again. Is it even possible to wear it without creasing? This is the existential dilemma so many of myclients struggle with on a seasonal basis: the desire to breeze around [insert glamorous beachside destination of choice here] in a floaty, carefree linen outfit v. the reality of creases...
Before we consider that question, though, let's remember the good things about linen.
WHY WEAR LINEN?
Linen is a remarkable fabric for so many reasons:
- linen is made from flax, and uses the entire flax plant, meaning little to no waste;
- flax grows naturally and requires less water and fewer pesticides than cotton, making it a more eco-friendly fabric;
- the manufacture of linen requires relatively little water;
- flax is a natural fibre, so linen is recyclable and biodegradable;
- linen lasts longer than other fabrics;
- linen is made of larger fibres, so it's a very open fabric which disperses and releases heat, thus reducing the surface temperature of your skin. The perfect summer fabric.
HOW TO AVOID CREASES?
You can't. It's inherent in the fabric itself and nothing can really stop it from creasing when you wear it, unless you stand all day, without moving your arms. How I have dealt with this is to embrace the casual, blasé elegance and fluidity of the fabric. As linen is such a natural fabric, it is full of character and charm, and the creases are a part of this.
This tendency to crease makes it perfect for resort wear. On holidays, you're relaxed, you're swanning from pool to restaurant to beach. You don't need to look all tailored and sharp. So just go with it.
TIPS FOR WEARING LINEN
- The thicker the linen the less pronounced the creasing. Look for those thicker linens, in designs with a longer line to them (like long blazers) for a less wrinkle-prone look.
- Linen will crease at the elbows. A styling trick I always use is to roll up the sleeves, even with linen blazers. It disguises the wrinkles in the fabric to an extent.
- Linen trousers are going to wrinkle at the groin and behind the knees. Choose darker fabrics which don't show up the creases as much.
- Look for linen blends (e.g. a cotton/linen blend) which still has the natural look of linen but is less likely to crease.
HOW TO STYLE LINEN
- Linen looks it's best when worn in neutral and natural tones or combined with other pieces in similar tones.
- Think about accessories. For a breezy, summery look, wear tan or rope sandals, espadrilles, textured leather belts in neutral tones, jewellery in natural materials like wooden beads.
- Belting linen pieces adds structure and flatters the fluidity of the fabric.
- For bags, raffia and basket bags will work well, as will linen totes. Go for bags that are not too structured, and have a relaxed look about them.
- If you are combining it with other pieces, use other natural fibres like denim, leather and cotton.
I work with clients to put together their holiday and travel wardrobes. I also advise on my favourite go-to brands for linen pieces for any budget. To enquire about a styling consultation, click the enquire button below, I'd love to hear from you.
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