11 fashionable ways to wear this summer's linen styles
Plus the key to frustration-free dressing with this tricky fabric
Linen, a woven cloth made from the flax plant, is known to be both breathable and strong — in fact, the oldest garment ever found is a 5000-year-old Egyptian linen dress. For Spring/Summer 2019, the natural fabric appeared in the designer collections at Vivienne Westwood, Acne Studios and Mansur Gavriel in the form of tailored dresses, boxy shirts and breezy suits.
A versatile and biodegradable material, linen is also lightweight and usually features a signature textured surface (although there are also linen blends that are visually indistinguishable from wool or cotton at first glance). And because it's a breathable, cool and easy to launder fabric that doesn't require dry cleaning, linen has always been a popular summertime wardrobe staple.
The only major drawback? Over time, it can be tricky to keep most 100% linen fabrics looking smooth and completely wrinkle-free, no matter how often you iron or steam each garment. The key to frustration-free linen dressing is keeping the fabric blend and garment design top of mind when you're shopping. In pure linen, pick less-formal designs that will still look good slightly wrinkled or creased; for tailored, more complicated styles, try to find smooth, linen-blend fabrics, with cotton or polyester added in, that will be easier to maintain.
Tied to spring's big utilitarian trend, designers and retailers are offering fashionable, tailored garments made out of both 100% linen and linen-blend fabrics, and it's not just bohemian dresses and comfortable button-ups (although we're coveting those too!). There are go-anywhere dresses and playful jumpsuits in linen, and even relaxed suiting that's perfect for the coming summer heat.
Airy linen shirts and blouses never really go out of fashion, especially during the warm-weather months. What looks particularly fresh this season are oversized silhouettes and unexpected colours beyond the classic shades of beige and cream.
Premium Linen Long Sleeve Shirt, $29.90, Uniqlo
Peechie Linen Shirt, $159.50, Club Monaco
Plain 100% Linen Oversized Blouse, $119, Massimo Dutti
Pulling off a full linen suit for everyday can be tricky, especially since pants can crease much more. For an easier take on the trend, start with a tailored, linen-blend blazer that you can easily slip on over jeans or a summer dress.
Babaton Macauley Linen Blazer, $198, Aritzia
Linen-Blend Jacket, $39.99, H&M
Oversized Linen Jacket, $169, Zara
Bohemian linen dresses with ruffles and gathers are practically a wardrobe staple at this point. What feels newest for the season are surprisingly tailored dresses that work for the office, feel comfortable on, and also showcase the fabric's great natural texture.
Linen-Blend Shirt Dress, $119.99, Mango
Side Button Linen Blend Flare Dress, $223.32, Ann Taylor
Linen-Blend Fit & Flare Midi Dress, $69.90 (on sale for $48.93), Reitmans
Both utilitarian and more polished jumpsuits and coveralls are trending this spring, and there are many covetable styles available in linen and linen-blend fabrics. Look for a thicker, heavier material — it's way too easy for a lightweight version to look overly rumpled.
Linen-Cotton Cropped Jumpsuit, $170, Banana Republic
Rachel Pally Hugo Linen Jumpsuit, $318.63, Shopbop
Truc Nguyen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @trucnguyen.