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Linen Shirts: The Ultimate Style Guide

9 December, 2019

What is the history of linen?

Throughout history linen has been highly regarded and a symbol of wealth and style, and in some cases even used as a form of currency. In Ancient Egypt, linen was actually used for mummification, because it symbolises lightness, purity and wealth (which is still kind of true today, right?). In Mesopotamia, linen was only used by higher classes of the society, meaning it came to represent a sense of luxury and decadence. Today, linen shirts have become known as a summery, light and fashionable path to upscaling your wardrobe, representing a thoughtful spin on smart casual style.

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What are the qualities of linen shirts?

Overall, linen shirts are known to be incredibly lightweight and soft, as well as being very effective at absorbing perspiration. Obviously these qualities make linen shirts perfect for warmer climates and seasons. Surprisingly, despite the softness and lightness of linen, the fibre is actually very strong and durable. And while linen can be difficult to keep perfectly crinkle free, the natural wrinkles and shape it forms after some wear lends to the casual, relaxed style.    

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How do you take care of linen shirts?

As with all fine products, heavy handed machine washing can cause damage over time. If you can’t hand wash, try to limit your washing to gentle cycles, and don’t overuse your local dry cleaner. Because of the low elasticity in linen, too much ironing and folding on the same spot can break the fabric. We suggest hanging the shirt as soon as it’s been cleaned, to encourage the wrinkles out, and limiting ironing to when it’s really necessary (and then, on low heat). Remember, some wrinkling is part of the charm of linen. Don’t expect a linen shirt to retain its shape and crispness like a cotton shirt would! 

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How do you wear linen shirts?

We suggest wearing a linen shirt in a looser fit. Given the style and the formality of a linen shirt, you want linen to hang a bit more than a business shirt, letting some air flow through and lending your overall look some of that casual looseness. It’s common to wear a linen shirt untucked, over shorts, denim or chinos, so if that’s your intention, try to make sure it’s cut a little higher than an ordinary business shirt (that extra length is to ensure it stays tucked in to your suit or chino trousers). But If you’re intending to substitute your linen shirt in for a cotton shirt with tailored long trousers, keep that traditional length! Colour wise, the world is your oyster - traditional shades of ivory and white are the most common, but bright and varied colours are becoming more common, and lend a summery pop of vibrancy to your warm weather outfits.   

Can you customise linen shirts?

Absolutely, and in fact linen shirts may demand more customisation than a traditional cotton shirt. If you’ve ever bought a linen shirt in a location like Italy, Greece or South East Asia, you may have been disappointed by the shape of it once you get home, particularly after a couple of wears - you can look more 90s Backstreet Boys than the Talented Mr Ripley charm you envisaged. As well as often being a lower quality of linen (so it stretches and becomes more transparent with each wear) the shape is often boxey and out of proportion. 

Obviously our made-to-measure service ensures perfect fit to your body shape, everytime, but we also recommend emphasising a slimmer fit, with enough looseness to ensure its still casual and relaxed. Details like buttons on the collar (to keep the lightweight collar tucked in) or a widespread collar (to keep it away from your neckline) will help serve the shirt to your needs and personal style. 

   

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