Linen has long been a favourite for tailoring intended for hot weather.
Its prime appeal is it’s cool to the touch (a lot more than wool, and a little more than cotton) because the fibre is a good conductor. Metal feels cool for the same reason.
Linen also tends to be quite breathable – but that’s down to the weave.
Because linen is a strong, relatively thick fibre it can be made in an open and therefore more breathable weave structure.
That’s also usually a plain weave, for the same reason. Plain weaves don’t have to be woven as densely as twills, for example, and are therefore more breathable.
The main reason people dislike linen is, of course, the wrinkling. This is because linen has no natural stretch (unlike wool).
The wrinkling does make linen less formal, but in an age when few men have to wear a smart suit to work, it can be a nice alternative for tailoring.
A navy linen jacket with a polo shirt underneath might be an effective way to dress up without looking too corporate.
For some, a wrinkled linen suit also has a certain relaxed, dégagé elegance.
This might be because linen is a relatively long-staple fibre (certainly compared to cotton) and therefore continues to move and drape well, even when wrinkled.
That also makes it less likely to become misshapen (eg bag at the knees).
You could argue that after 4 or 5 wears, a linen suit will look better than some wools. Both will be wrinkled, but linen will wear it better.
If the wrinkled look is a big turn-off, a good alternative is to wear just a linen jacket, or just trousers.
A hopsack jacket is be a nice partner to linen trousers, and high-twist wool trousers (e.g. above) a partner to a linen jacket.
However it should be noted that, in general, wearing a linen jacket and trousers in different colours should be avoided. The similarity of texture looks odd.
Better, if you want the coolness of linen in both, is to have a jacket in a wool/silk/linen mix – a standard offering from Italian mills in jacketing bunches.
Pure linens tend to be one of two weights: either 10-13oz from Irish mills (e.g. above), or 8/9oz from European ones (e.g. the other tobacco suit, shown at top).
This is because historically Irish mills have spun their yarn a bit coarser (1/25 or 1/10Nm) than Italian mills (1/25 to 1/40). They also use a closer setting during weaving, making it denser.
Irish 12/13oz linen feels heavier and looks sharper. Although it will wrinkle, the wrinkles are larger and fewer (something you can see above, again). The 8/9oz linens feel a lot lighter, but tend to wrinkle consistently all over.
I tend to prefer Irish linens, certainly in a suit; and if I want a lighter weight jacket, I go for a wool/silk/linen mix.
Irish linens, by the way, sometimes have a sanforised finish, which makes a little stiff and shiny. This often washes out when the suit is cleaned.
Among linen’s other properties are that is highly absorbent, but moisture evaporates quickly (another plus for hot weather, and a similarity with wool); and that its smoothness means it doesn’t attract lint and so needs little brushing (unlike wool).
Linen is also very strong, and deals well with abrasion (so won’t wear down at the elbows, for example). Signs of wear tend to come where the cloth is folded and the fibres crack, such as on the top of the collar.
Perhaps most importantly, linen fibres have natural imperfections along their length that show up as ‘slubs’ in the cloth.
It is this organic, irregular look that often makes people most passionate about it. The same people that like hairy tweeds in the winter tend to like the natural, slubby look of linen in the summer.
Linen will probably never quite escape its associations with red-faced colonials or the man from Del Monte. But there are a lot of ways to wear linen other than as a full, cream suit.
Natural colours such as tobacco, olive and dark green are often good, particularly in a tailored trouser in the summer. And off-white or biscuit (above) are nice alternatives to cream.
Navy can work well, but usually not as a formal suit – not as a replacement for worsted wool to the office.
Linen can be dyed pretty much any colour though, and according to the mills the trend at the moment is for plain, bright colours and pastels.
Personally, I’d suggest starting with some olive or biscuit-coloured trousers, and then moving up to a tobacco suit.
Wear it three or four times, and then revel in the wrinkles.
Photography: All Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man except: top suit image, Luke Carby; bright blue jacket, Drake’s; checked and yellow cloths, Rubinacci.
Fantastic post about a fantastic material. Out of curiosity, I viewed a 2014 GQ article I happened upon as I was searching for more about linen today. It got me somewhat triggered that the writer would hate on linen so much.
Something that has put me off from commissioning another made-to-measure linen shirt is the amount that my first one had expanded after a few wears. I find it a shame that something would actually dissuade me somewhat from using the material, because it’s just so good for where I live.
There didn’t seem to be any unraveled darts in the back, so I’ve wondered since then: does linen actually expand after a few wash and press cycles? Would that happen if it were a linen-cotton mix?
It will be down to the weave and weight, Joseph, rather than the fibre (linen).
Linen doesn’t necessarily expand or stretch, and I haven’t never had that issue with any of my linen shirts or tailoring. Perhaps try to feel the linen next time and see whether the weave means it has any easy stretch in one direction or the other. That will make it more likely to lose a little shape.
I appreciate the helpful advice, Simon. I’ll keep that in mind next time.
How do you clean your linen garments? I have a linen field jacket that has undergone some wear over the past year, and it could do with some cleaning; would you dry-clean it like woolen fabrics or just machine wash at home?
Thanks for your very interesting writing. I’m from Australia, where I suspect we are significantly more casual. I have however been invited to an August wedding in England’s Lake District. It’s a 1:30PM service and the invitation reads ‘Formal’. Do you think a single breasted mid blue/grey linen suit be out of the question in terms of formality? Kind Regards, Christian
That should be fine, but worth clarifying with the bride’s family if you’re in any doubt.
What about shrinkage and care? I know that some brands like Drakes writes that you only should dry clean their linen shackets? (Like the one you are wearing in the picture).
Yes, they should really be dry cleaned if you can. The lighter the linen, the more like a shirt therefore, the more likely it will be ok to wash at home
I doubt don’t it but what makes lighter fabrics less susceptible to shrinkage than heavier ones?
Basically the more linen in there, the more there is to shrink. Also when you get into shackets or jacket-like pieces, there’s a chance there’s some kind of internal structure in there
Very nice article that explains linen’s characteristics very simply. Well done.
Would you ever wear navy linen trousers as a separate? Eg with say a checked beige wool jacket.
Probably not – largely because of my dislike for navy odd trousers. I’d wear dark green instead probably, or a grey high-twist wool
Thank you very much indeed, excellent piece. Could you possibly mention what trouser you wear on a the second shot (with a navy overshirt)?
They’re Edward Sexton Hollywood top trousers – have a search on the site for the post on them. I would link to it but I’m on my phone and can’t from here
I was thinking the same as “Anonymous”, and the reminded myself, that they probably are the Hollywood trousers by Sexton.
Just had a look on their website.
They are 478€ for the RTW Version. Any comment on value?
Not particularly. That is a lot, but then they’ll be made in very low volumes and have required new designs and patterns etc
Thank you very much. I well remember your piece on these trousers, but has mistaken it for something else.
Isn’t that navy overshirt linen too? (which would go against what you said about wearing only one linen item)
The linens are a little different there in texture, but you’re right that does go against the rule. I guess difference in texture can work, but not often
I find even irish linen at 300-350 g tends to bag at the knees, but then again I’ve never tried anything lighter in linen, and I find all trousers bag to some degree. Cut and fit naturally makes a difference too.
PS. I happen to be wearing grey linen trousers and a white friday polo today. Just got delivery of two more polos, they’ve really come to be a staple of mine. Thanks.
Why do trousers bag in the knees ?
Too much fabric on the leg ? Poor cloth ? Poor cut ?
Cloth and cut don’t help – a looser weave cloth or a cut that is too close to the knee. And wool is better than linen or cotton (as noted well in the comments above). But it’s also just pushing against the material too much. It’s why you can (and some still do) pull their trousers up a little at the knee before they sit down.
Very interesting read, once more. There’s a ‘featured bunch’ box to the side of the article from Scabal that mentions “delavé” linen as a specially treated variety with an aged look. I’ve seen it in other bunches and wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.. what do you say, Simon? On your list or not? Thanks
I quite like it as a finish – it’s something most of the Italian bunches include. But in general I prefer the heavier weights, which don’t tend to have that finish
Absolutely fantastic article!
Is there also an environmental advantage to linen compared to other cloths? This summer, in London, I’ve seen a number of retailer window displays pushing linen as it uses less water to make but I’m not sure of the technicalities here.
Yes, it is usually more environmentally friendly, but it depends a lot on how and wear it’s made
Would you ever iron your linen trousers? I own a linen jacket and the only thing I do is hanging it in the bathroom for a couple of days until the wrinkles have faded out a bit..
Yes, I iron them at home occasionally. Always start out below full heat (but lots of steam) and with a tea towel or equivalent between the iron and the cloth.
You can also do the same with some wrinkles on jackets, like in the small of the back and the elbows – as with normal suits in our pressing a suit video
Steaming is good, too.
A minor correction here. Linen does ‘expand’. What gives wool, for example, it’s great properties is its complex molecular structure . It is not homogeneous as linen and cotton fibres are. While wool fibres are twisted like a spring at their base (giving them elasticity and preventing stretch or the fibre ‘expanding’), linen and cotton fibres have no such structure. As a result, they stretch without returning to their previous form. A hot wash can help, however, in negating some of that stretch as it can sometimes return the cloth to its original state.
I’ve had a few pairs of trousers made up using Dugdale Lisburn, which is about 12 ozs.
They look great and hold their shape extremely well.
how easy it is to take the lining out of a linen blazer to make it largely unstructured?
I assume you mean the canvas and padding of the jacket, rather than the lining? That would make it unstructured, but is pretty much impossible to do without entirely remaking the jacket I’m afraid.
The lining is quite easy to change but may require some fiddly work to finish the seams that are then exposed. It wouldn’t do anything to make it more or less structured though.
I have a related question: how easy is it to remove the lining in a pair of half-lined trousers?
Simon, could you provide more details on the high-twist wool trousers you’re wearing in the photo with the blue linen jacket please?
See comment above, DKP. They’re the Hollywood-Top trousers from Edward Sexton. My full post on there here.
Apologies Simon – I’m referring to the grey trousers featured in this photograph:
Oh I’m sorry, I misunderstood. Those are Fresco trousers, cut by Kathryn Sargent when she was at Gieves & Hawkes. There was a series of posts – one here
Linen trousers are my go to in hot weather .
But why is it that linen trousers always have sleeve pockets (useless for putting away anything valuable ) and never the more secure frog pocket ?
Great article. Could you please expand a little more on why navy would not work as a formal suit for the office. Thanks.
Personally, I find navy linen doesn’t look formal enough for the office – at least one where a worsted navy suit is standard attire. It can end up looking like it’s pretending to be a worsted. Hope that makes sense, need to find a way to put it better!
Great article! Would you avoid combining linen jacket and linen trousers even if there would be some patter or interest in the weave? Eg. herringbone linen jacket with plain weave trousers.
That would help, but I still would yes
Come on Simon!
A navy linen jacket with 2 ‘“ square check in pale blue paired with cream linen pants?
Cream linen jacket paired with navy pants?
Baby pink linen jacket paired with navy or white pants?
I appreciate you are acquiring a lot of knowledge about artisans and their craft, but you’ve got a bit of a way to go as a style guru.
Thanks, but actually the point made in the conversation above is a better one – the colour differences make less difference than the textures. If those combinations were in the same weight and texture of linen, they would risk looking too similar.
And let’s try to avoid discussions of cloth and colour from being personal, shall we?
Sorry, not intended to be personal, but there are times when you make an assertion on something which is clearly not founded on anything other than a personal preference.
If you don’t think top A goes with bottom B, try and say it’s about personal style rather than advise people with more limited knowledge what to do or not to do.
I’ve just spent a week travelling in Florence, Rome, Pisa and Venice. There, the locals are wearing linen top and bottom and look great.
Not meant as a personal attack, just trying to add a bit of depth to what can otherwise be a bit one dimensional comment.
Thanks Jake – the best spirit to keep it in.
Obviously some things are personal and some are broader rules that can apply quite widely. I try to make it obvious when I think something is one or the other.
Here I do think this is more than just my taste, and founded on something more fundamental. Generally in tailoring it’s a good idea not to have exactly the same material on the top and bottom half, just in different patterns or colours. They risk looking too alike, when a key to separates is the two looking distinct.
I was probably too absolute, and there will be exceptions – but it’s a good rule of thumb.
This is a difficult one.
By and large, I think Simon is correct but colour is absolutely key.
Personally I only ever wear linen in suits (13oz Irish) but do wear linen trousers, shirts and Safari/shackets as part of a mix but would never wear linen trousers with a wool jacket .
To me it just looks odd.
Jake is correct, the Italians do wear linen jackets and trousers in different colours and few could deny that a navy linen jacket could go with gunmetal grey linen trousers but, they tend to use the lighter linen which for me just wrinkles way too much and makes you look like you’ve been run over by a truck. Try that colour in a heavy Irish linen and you’d risk to look like you were wearing jackets and trousers from different suits. Not a good look.
The heavier linen, which I prefer looks so much better as a suit albeit the trousers can be worn on their own or with a jacket with a material that contrasts well. Hopsack being the perfect choice.
Something I also do is to have my linen suit jackets lined. It doesn’t make them warmer and helps them keep a nice shape. Louche but not the truck look.
I bought a beautiful heavy linen tobacco work jacket from A&S this year and wear it with a white or dark blue linen shirt and chinos but I would consider pairing it with dark blue linen trousers.
A great article about a great cloth but linen is an advanced sartorial art which probably explains why so few people – outside of these column inches – wear it !
If I’m correct, even within this post Simon breaks his own rule. The second outfit consists of a linen top (Drake’s linen overshirt) and linen bottom (linen Hollywood top trousers). But the point is that the overshirt couldn’t be mistaken for a suit jacket.
Sounds to me Jake understands a style guru to be a scientist of applied aesthetics. Since Simon answers an infinite number of posts and spends a large amount of time writing articles, I presume his writing style has short cuts.
I have a pair of RTW linen/wool mix trousers which are very cool to wear and don’t wrinkle very much. I haven’t run across a similar fabric since finding these. Have you encountered any linen/wool mixes Simon?
Hmm, no not that I can think of
In the Ariston SS18 “130s Summer” folder, check the A959 group. 75% wool, 25% linen. 250g. Don’t know who weaves it for them.
Harrisons run a bunch called ‘Labyrinth’ which largely comprises quite statement cloths for summer jacketings, however there are a handful of lovely plainer cloths which are great for trousers or even suits that bridge the gap between formal and casual. I believe the mix is 85% wool, 7% mohair, 5% silk and 3% linen. I recently completed work on a 2pc suit for a client that was looking for a lightweight, breathable and semi-structured summer 2-pc but didn’t want the creasing of linen or cotton. I have to say I was very impressed with it. It has a little mohair sheen that I know some people don’t like but the finished article looked superb and handled great. Just the right balance of formal and casual, and very crease resistant.
Thanks Graeme, really interesting
once again a great article! Tank you!
My tailor from Bangkok will make a tour through Europe and I am considering to order linen shirts as well as pants and shorts. For pants you recommended to stay with muted earthy colors, how about shirts? My inspiration would be navy, light blue, white and maybe turquoise…..
Light blue and white will be the most useful. Then navy if you don’t want to be too formal
Fascinating article Simon. Please could you say a little more about the overshirt you’re wearing in the second picture. Is it a herringbone? And is it navy? It looks a lighter blue – does linen tend to lighten as it ages?
It’s a plain weave navy from Drake’s – I think just the light makes it look lighter. Linen can fade over time, but usually only years and mostly at seams etc
Silon, I prefer the colours and look of italian linen but do not like the wrinkles. Would an italian linen twill (Ariston has nice 280g plain delavé linen twills) wrinkle substantially less than a plain weave?
It will wrinkle less, yes, but probably still more than a heavier Irish
Another advantage of linen is that it seems to be less affected by clothes moths.
How timely given the weather, thank you!
What are your thoughts on linen as a three-fold or two-fold suit, i.e. using both the suit as well as trousers and jacket separately – or would that be problem of the sun changing the colour too much? My tailor strongly recommended „natural“ colours for this reason instead of blue, green etc. Any thoughts?
Nice idea Michael, yes that could work well. Blue might be worth avoiding, but lots of other colours like cream, green, beige/taupe and tobacco could work well.
Helpful article as always, Simon, thanks. If you compare Irish linen with a worsted that offered the same level of comfort and wearability in hot summers, which of the two would be the more durable material for a suit?
Probably the worsted, as long as it wasn’t too fine
This is a very interesting post, which, I hope, would eventually convert the most skepticals among PS readers of linen’s unique sartorial benefit!
Actually, utterances such as “linen wrinkles”, “linen rumples” to justify ditching altogether linen are usually lame excuses to hide a lack of confidence in one’s own sense of style. It reminds me of those who dont like suede shoes just because they don’t shine!
However, having said that, I still have a question related to pairing linen jackets and ties. Are there specific fabrics for ties that look better when paired with linen jackets?
A great deal of time in experimenting would be drastically reduced, certainly not just for me, as you guess!
I wouldn’t say that any particular type of tie suits linen better. You can have something similar in texture, like a wool or shantung, or a contrast like a woven silk. It’s a question of formality and the outfit as a whole, for me, rather than just the material of the jacket or suit
In your post “The appeal of the cotton suit” you mention that cotton has no natural stretch and so you had your suit from Elia Caliendo made a touch bigger. Is this something you would recommend for linen considering it too has no stretch?
Good point. No, generally linen is a little better because it has a slightly looser weave normally. Cotton is denser
I’m having a W Bill linen suit made and my tailor recommends going unstructured (no canvas). He says it will wear cooler without affecting the drape. He also have a soft canvas option. I know you have a W bill linen suit and would like to know what would you recommand?
I wouldn’t recommend having no canvas, it definitely will affect the line of the suit, at least over time. Go for the soft canvas perhaps
Are there any heavy weight linen you would recommend for separate trousers? Like 14oz/ 15oz and above..
Would you have linen trousers half- or unlined?
Largely half lined
Any reason for that? Doesn’t it negate the cooling effect of linen?
You wrote somewhere that a half lining would negate the cooling properties of fresco. Shouldn’t it be the same with linen or have you revised your opinion as to fresco pants?
I don’t think it negates cooling in either, just slightly reduces it. It’s a small point compared to the cloth itself, and compared to wanting lining on fresco to be more comfortable.
Why have the lining? What benefits does it provide?
A few, including comfort, drape, durability and pull on the cloth (so bagging at the knees)
Good article on a little visited subject – also good to see a range of comments. Re. wearing linen together; if the situation allows I think it can work. I have a blue, fine, shiny (sanforized) jacket that pairs with a heavier, matte, biscuit coloured linen trouser. The pairing works well, especially as the cuts are complimentary. I realise that their has been some debate already but linen, perhaps above all other cloths, has a casual chic that is hard to beat. Whether by seaside or in warm cities linen has a playfulness that allows for a little mis-matching, a more daring account of colour and a hint of carelessness in finish, fit and form. I think a little mismatched linen is OK now and then. Also I would not necessarily turn to wool as an alternate accompaniment but to cotton as I think it a more befitting match in form (lack of drape) and structure (stiffer and without stretch). For Robin; trouser pockets are nearly always side or slanted vs. frog or jean due to linen creasing and bagging around the mouth of the pocket. The other effect is that linen trousers hang better from the waist if cut in the traditional style. In the ‘jean’ style the fit of the waistband never seems right (perhaps due to the more open, looser weave vs. denim) and the hang, or fall, of the trouser is affected making it look bunched, ill fitting and slightly awkard (at least from the examples I have seen).
What would be your first shirt and tie choice with an olive linen suit (for a semi-casual summer wedding, say)?
It depends how semi-casual… white shirt will be smarter, blue a little more casual. And silk tie for smart (perhaps grey, perhaps a yellow or orange) and a madder or wool for more casual
I have been moving away from cotton and linen (and silk) to cool wool alternatives like Fresco for a variety of reasons including:
Fabric density at least for Irish linens that make them seem warmer than wool alternatives
Moisture retention that adds to the weight
Ability to really only wear once or twice before the garment needs to be dry cleaned – wool jackets in particular can be steamed and spot cleaned and can be worn a few more times
That said I did find a gorgeous beige heavier Italian linen (smoother fibers vs Irish linen but similar in weight at 14oz) that is just simply amazing – wrinkles and all
Got a gorgeous suit from John Hitchcock before he retired and had planned to get a three-piece DB from Rubinacci – unfortunately they lost the trial garment (my fault in part as I couldn’t see them for a few years).
Long story short, unless it’s a really special linen fabric, wool alternatives may be way superior and also provide some texture.
SJ, you begin by mentioning cotton with linen versus wool but seems to me you subsequently only do linen vs wool? In other words, please do cotton experience!
Any thoughts between linen vs a fabric like Crispaire and how they wear for warm weather? I’m in Florida and it’s hot and muggy. I own a Crispaire suit and like it but no linen. Which will wear cooler?
Linen will pretty much always be cooler – Crispaire has the advantage of looking sharper and smarter
Thanks for your article. I wonder if a linen shirt can be washed in a washing machine at home (under a delicate cycle)? (Sorry that my question is not about linen jacketing/ suiting.)
Yes it can, most linen shirts should be abel to be washed at home, like a normal cotton
When you commented to take a jacket in a wool/linen/silk blend, were you implying that this combination would be acceptable to pair with pure linen trousers?
What colour(s) would you recommend for a first linen suit? Ideally I would like a colour that allows me to wear the trousers and jackets separately.
There are a few – green, tan, oatmeal. All would be good
Thank you Simon. I was looking at the Dugdale Cascade bunch (linen/silk blend) – do you think a linen silk blend would be suitable for trousers?
Hi Simon, how do you deal with shrinkage and fading linen
I haven’t found my linen to shrink, either in shirts or tailoring, but then makers would normally wash it before they started working with it. On fading, I don’t mind the effect, it looks personal and relaxed
I’m thinking of getting a jacket of Irish linen for next summer. Italian linen is out for me because of how much more it wrinkles. Which of your jackets or suits are made of Irish linen? Could you please share links to your articles about them? I’m interested to see how they make up and wear.
I think it’s:
– Dege & Skinner tobacco
– Anderson & Sheppard jacket
– Kent & Haste cream
Hoping there isn’t another I’ve forgotten!
Thank you! That’s a big help.
What do you recommend for lining a linen jacket? I have some fully lined linen jackets, but I’m not sure if they don’t breathe well because of the full lining or because the linen is a twill weave. Both probably contribute. But the lining seems to help prevent wrinkling more than in quater-lined linen jacket I have. What is your experience with lining linen with breath-ability and wrinkling?
I’d have it half lined.
There will always be a fair bit of wrinkling in the back, so I’m not sure the lining helps much there
Simon, Would you please tell me which jacket you are wearing in the picture above with the cream pants and light blue shit. Love the site, Thanks!
Thanks Sean, pleased to hear it.
It’s a Drake’s overshirt
if I have money for one suit bespoke and one MTM and need/want one linen and one classic business;
would you say linen is more important to go bespoke or the other way around, since do to the fabric the fit is anyhow in comparison less precise?
I don’t think it makes much difference Michael.
Do you know where Drakes got their Italian linen from this past summer for their twill suits? Looking to get a pair of trousers made to match a jacket I bought from them.
No, sorry Harry.
Hi, i‘m thinking about getting some linen bespoke shirts in navy, dark green and some other colour. Is there anything different to a classic cotton shirt, i have to consider, when at the fitting? Thx from Vienna
A summer question: I have had a number of linen things in the past, but I just got a new linen jacket and it WRINKLES a lot (not what I was expecting with an 11 oz linen). I expect and like wrinkles in certain areas with linen, mainly when they are horizontal (e.g. around the elbows or on the back), but in some areas and in certain directions they don’t look so great. I was wondering, is there anything you do to tame the wrinkles a bit between wears? I know steaming can work, but some say it can be very bad for the jacket (I don’t have decent cleaners in my area, so that isn’t really an option). Do you steam? Do you press? Do you do anything else? Thanks in advance and thanks for all the good content on the site!
Unfortunately weight is only one thing that could affect how much linen wrinkles. It could also be down to the way it’s woven, and any finishing.
Personally if I use Irish linens of that weight, I don’t need to do anything between wears. Just leave the suit hanging somewhere where it’s free to move so the wrinkles soften and fall out a bit.
But with others I do occasionally steam them. This is generally good for cloths – I’m not sure why others would say it’s bad for a jacket. It relaxes the fibres, removing wrinkles, and even cleans slightly. You can leave it in a steamy shower/bathroom, or just hang it and pulse steam up through it and around it with an iron (never touching the cloth).
I also sometimes press small areas, like the small of the back and sleeves – but only those areas. You can see how to do that in this video we did with Richard Anderson.
Thanks for the response Simon.
I read somewhere that steaming can 1) deform some of the shaping the tailor puts into the canvas with an iron, 2) lead to busted seams, and 3) cause puckering. All these I guess would be less of a problem on the back and sleeves, though.
Have you heard anything along these lines before? I know very little about jacket construction.
Ah, I see.
Yes, that could be a risk but only if pressing yourself (so pressure as well as steam) or if steaming intensely – so forcing it through the garment. Gently pushing steam underneath a hanging jacket, so it rises inside and relaxes the material, should be fine.
Hey Simon I know cream, stone, tobacco linens are often the first few colors one may consider when making a trouser. However I find them strong/flashy especially when worn without a jacket. Im wondering are there other colors you find useful to be worn just with a shirt? Mid grey perhaps?
Olive would be my first suggestion. Then perhaps a colour like my ones here:
For a rather stiff linen shirt jacket, do I need to hang there on a good hanger or can they take some bashing? E.g. do they go out of shape ?
No, you can treat them a bit roughly. You might just want to press them at some point if you want a cleaner, sharper look
I want to have a suit made for site visits. My job is in a hot country involves lots of visits to either dusty or muddy places. I want something that will take rough treatment and that I can hand wash quite often. I was originally thinking of a drill cotton, but then I saw your comment that linen deals with abrasion well. Would you suggest an Irish linen or a cotton drill?
For that kind of work, definitely cotton
Thanks Simon, is there any particular bunch you would recommend?
Have you looked at our article on linen bunches?
Simon, indeed I did and a great article as well.
But I was unclear I took your advice on best to use cotton but meant any thoughts on a cotton bunch. Was thinking a Holland and Sherry “seasonal cotton” like 177500.
Maybe it is an idea for a future article, although an article on maybe less exciting than wool and linen! Although it would be interesting to read your thoughts on different weights and advantages or not of adding a little elastic.
As ever huge fan of your unpretentious views on clothing.
Oh I see, sorry.
To be honest I think most cottons aren’t going to be strong enough for what you need. But try Dakota from Holland & Sherry, or Brisbane Moss
Simon, now that Christmas has passed I am starting work with my local tailor on some upcoming commissions for spring/summer. They will be casual linen with 255g fabric from moygashel. Since I am in the nyc area I am going lighter in weight than your recommendations for your London summers. I found a linen that matches your cigar linen suit that I like. I am also exploring a blue shade. I am between a blueberry, French blue, and navy. I am concerned navy will be too stuffy but the brighter colors may be too bold. Do you have any strong feelings on brightness of the shade for a blue/navy suit when it comes to linen?
If it’s a suit, I’d still probably go for navy. You can easily make it non-stuffy with some brightly striped shirts, for example.
If a brighter blue, I’d go just for a jacket.
Also, consider olive green. You might find it more versatile than navy, and certainly blue
Would you recommend this linen/silk and wool mix for a trouser?
Probably not, they’re generally woven for jackets and a little too loose and flimsy for a trouser
Now that is January I’m starting to think about summer commissions. I got my hands on the tropical book from Spence Bryson linens from Ulster Weavers. Do you have any experience with their linens? I hear they make linens for many of the other purveyors of Irish linen.
Yes, they’re linens are very good, and they do supply many others. I’d have full confidence ordering from them
Hi dear Sir ,
May I ask what’s your opinion for Spence Bryson Linens? I am thinking of the same colours you have mentioned. Just one information , the tropical range of Spence Bryson is actually 370 gr per linear meter because these linens are being calculated per square meter. That means that you have to calculate the 255*1,47 (width) to ring the weight per rubbing meter.
What color odd jacket would you pair with dark green linen pants?
Beige or pale grey certainly.
Have you searched the site?
Does a herringbone weave resist creasing better? I like the colours IN H&S South Pacific bunch. Also is this weave less cooler than plain weave?
In general, yes a twill might resist creasing more, and be less breathable, but it depends on other factors too, such as the yarn, weight etc. So it’s only one thing. Weight will probably make more of a difference
What about grey linen? Mostly trouses, although maybe odd jacket or suit. Good high twist trousers for summer are not available for me, even though they would look better in grey.
I’d consider it for trousers, yes, though not so much for a jacket or trousers
I find a peculiar trend in your linen jackets. Most of them are from structured tailors
despite the typically more casual context of linen. Some of the tailors I refer to are
Gieves and Hawkes, Kent Haste and Lachter, Dege and Skinner (and even A&S).
Is that intentional? Do you find that linen works best with a more structured construction
instead of a Neapolitan one?
Very good point. No, I don’t find that linen works best in a structured cut. However, I do find that it’s particularly nice in suits, while I tend to prefer wool/silk/linen mixes for summer jackets. And I tend to have more suits from structured tailors, but more jackets from softer ones.
There are of course exceptions, such as that A&S jacket.
which jackets and trousers work in combination with a dark green linen shirt?
That’s not an easy colour to work with. I’d suggest starting with a navy jacket and trousers in mid-grey, khaki or cream?
Any manufacturers that you’d recommend for the wool/linen/silk fabric? Is there a % composition that would be more appropriate for a full suit?
If not, is there another composition that included linen that you may suggest?
Most of the Italian mills are good for wool/silk/linens – Loro Piana, Caccioppoli, Zegna, Drapers etc. The difference is design rather than quality, particularly given the mix of agents and mills (so some weave for each other).
But I wouldn’t recommend any of them for a suit.
There are sometimes wool/linen mixes, which would be better, though they tend to be seasonal. I think Indigo from Harrison’s is still available, and that was one such mix – see our seasonal round-up here. And Ariston did some at one point.
These will always be niche though. The standard summers suit options are 100% linen or 100% high-twist wool.
May I ask why you don’t recommend the blend for a suit? I assume it has to do with pant weight.
Less weight, and more the weave and fibre mix. But the effect is the same, that the trousers don’t drape as well, don’t have the body to hold a crease, and aren’t as hard wearing
Hi simon assuming one has most of the bases covered (grey work trousers in light-mid-dark, light beige cotton, olive cotton) for trousers, and would only get 1 linen trouser, would you say dark brown (almost chocolate) is useful?
Yes I would. Cream would be very useful too, but a bit bright. Dark brown would be great
I was wondering if a linen shirt Would also look odd when worn with a linen suit, considering different colours of the shirt and the suit. What would be your advice on that point?
Usually it’s OK, as the two linens are of rather different weights. Certainly if there’s a tie on top of the shirt as well
Simon – in the picture above – cream jacket, white polo shirt & green trousers – do you have the details of the trouser fabric please?
These are old, and the cloth won’t be available any more, but they were from this suit
It’s not hard to find a similar green though – try Holland & Sherry or Drapers 9oz cotton
Hello! The off-White jacket worn with the white polo and green chinos – which jacket if yours is that, Simon?
It’s my Caliendo in vintage linen – covered here
Simon what trousers would you pair a tobacco jacket with? I find it unintuitively challenging to find a good option that matches the texture and color. Cream linen seems logical but seems a bit too “tonal”
Yes, it’s not that easy a colour. I find cream works well – as in the combination here, for example. And mid-greys are usually nice too, which is helpful. Sometimes darker olives.
Love reading your articles. I am having certain doubts and would be very kind if you could help?
What is your opinion on chocolate brown linen trouser?
Would it look good with a navy shirt?
Can i wear oxblood colour shoes with dark brown or chocolate brown trouser?
There are a lot of contrasting views i have got from many people about dark brown trousers with some calling it a not so impressive colour for trouser .
Chocolate-brown trousers can be great – the only issue is avoiding wearing matching shoes with them. See post here on that.
It’s much easier with summer trousers though. You can wear navy espadrilles, natural-coloured canvas shoes, lots of others things that you can’t wear in winter.
Oxblood shoes can look nice with brown trousers. But it depends a lot on the colour. Look at Color 8 cordovan – that’s the right shade.
Can dark brown suede work?
What would be your view on charcoal grey linen trouser?
Need a dark coloured trouser. Dark olive green is not available with my tailor. He has dark brown with him but i think it would be very hard to find a shoe to match with it.
Thanks in advance
Charcoal could be nice, though unusual for linen. Nice with smarter things elsewhere, like a white shirt, navy overshirt
I have found charcoal grey flat front wool trouser to be very formal and therefore was looking out for an alternative in fabric for them for smart casuals
Do you think charcoal grey linen would provide same casual appeal that maybe charcoal flannel trouser provides?
So should i go ahead and commision a charcoal grey linen trouser?
Yes, i think they would have that appeal. I just think they would have slightly more limited uses, as the colour is unusual for linen – like the white shirt and navy jacket/overshirt mentioned
Hey! I realise that you must be inundated with queries like this all the time – but I wanted to ask about two things; firstly I’m looking for pointers on what to look for in a summer suit for the workplace, my wardrobe is currently chock full of wool or wool-blend suits and I’m thinking that a linen option might be worth an investment? Secondly, as a general style guide, I’m a fresh-faced lawyer on a starter salary and would really appreciate some advice about where I could look for quality garments at a decent price, or alternatively, what kind of staple pieces you consider are worth investing in. Would massively appreciate any advice you could give on those topics! Cheers, and happy New Year!
No worries. I’m always happy to answer questions on here, because I know the advice benefits all readers. It’s as much a part of the site as the articles are.
First, I’d suggest you also read the summer pieces in this guide to cloth, on jackets and trousers. That will go into more detail than I can here. And in terms of summer suits, a high-twist wool would be an effective summer version of what you already have. But a linen would also be nice. Up to you how casual it can be – or if it has to be navy – that depends really on your office.
Second, I’m afraid I can’t give too much advice on lower price points, as it’s just not what I know well. But, in terms of staple pieces, I really recommend checking out the guide to Wardrobe Building. There are lots of great pieces, and discussions, on there.
I hope that helps
How is linen in odor control and drying compared to cotton or polyester?
Also can linen button-down shirts work for “business casual” dress during hot humid summers?
Linen is better in odour control that either, and better at drying than cotton. Polyester dries quickly, but that’s pretty much it’s only positive characteristic.
Whether linen can be worn in a business environment is something you’ll have to assess for yourself, given how much offices can vary. But if you’re in doubt, try a linen/cotton mix instead. It’s a wonderful combination, and one I wear a lot – it looks much smarter than linen, but feels almost as like and breathable.
Would you consider dark indigo for linen trousers (I know you mentioned navy already)? The reason why I ask is because I have seen sartorial stylist wear dark blue/ linen trousers with beige colour jackets and with shirts in white/pale blue/light wash chambray which Jean Manuel Moreau has illustrated very well. I believe linen offers a texture fabric where even dark blue in trousers can work as a separate. On this article you have mentioned Navy linen can work.
Yes, dark indigo can be good, though depending on how that is dyed, there might not be much effective difference from navy
Hi Simon, great website!
I was wondering what do you think about wearing a linen shirt with worsted suit?
I think it’s fine, as long as the shirt is smart in other respects – eg white, spread collar, perhaps with a tie on top. Just keep in mind that linen is more casual, as part of the mix of things you think about when assessing formality.
And if in doubt, go with linen/cotton instead. Just as breathable, but looks almost like cotton
I have a question regarding linen that I haven
t been able to find an answer to:t seem logical. There is no canvas etc. in a trousers and I presume that there isn`t a radical difference between the linen fibers that are used for shirting fabric/ and the fibers that are used for jacket/trouser fabric. Can anybody please help me understand this?
Linen shirts can ususally be machine washed (30-40 degrees) BUT linen trousers have to be dry cleaned! This doesn
It’s usually because of the structure of the waistband. There will be some canvas or lining in there, which might not deal well with machine washing.
Also, the linens are often different: more densely woven, more starched and so on
So I love linens. It’s the best for the weather we have in India. I would like to add a creme and a white colour trouser ( linen) to my wardrobe. However, these coloured pants seem to be kind of translucent. Perhaps that’s not the word but I guess you will get what I mean. The inner lining of side pockets and back pocket show very clearly making wearing the pants weird. Is there a catch? A thicker fabric? What could be done?
Lighter or more open-weave linens will often have that problem. If you go for something a little heavier, say 11oz, and Irish linen, then you will get that much less. Eg my suit here. Nothing shows through
Here at times the sellers term linen fabric not in oz but LEA. So any insights on this unit?
It’s the number of yards per pound. You’ll have to do a conversion in afraid – the other I refer to is ounces per metre
Hi Simon, I had some cream trousers made in a similar weight of Irish linen, but the transparent pocket problem has remained. Is there anything that can be done now the trousers are already made? For example, adding a lining all the way around the upper thigh? Many thanks.
You can line them in the front, but it would be strange in the back, and presumably there are pockets there too?
There’s a pocket on one side. Perhaps I could add one on the other side?
Why would that help Ravi? Then you’d just have two pockets that were visible. Also not an easy thing to change.
I think you have to stick with what you have, except for lining the fronts if you wanted to.
I have a pair of chocolate brown linen trousers from Anglo Italian. The advertised styling is to pair them with dark brown suede loafers and no socks. Could you please advise me on how to pair these trousers with socks and shoes, and in what colour way?
I have been told black leather loafers might go, but what colour of sock should I pair? Similarly, I have been told brown socks and brown shoes is ‘too much brown’.
Help and advice needed,.
Thank you and best regards,
Black loafers will certainly look good, and if brown suede seems too close to the trousers, then try brown leather instead. Smart white canvas shoes might also be nice.
On socks, yes all brown might be a bit too much. In that case go for something still dark but which compliments the other colours. Perhaps a dark grey or a dark olive for example.
You can see an example of my brown linen here.
Do linen trousers look good with chambray shirts?
Do you suggest going for 100% linen material shirts or would it wrinkle a lot?
Yes they usually do. Though as ever, you’re asking quite broad questions. A lot will depend on colour, cut and particular material.
On material, yes linen will wrinkle but that’s the joy of it. You can for cotton/linen, which is very cool too, but usually smarter.
Simon do you consider linen trousers casual or smart casual?
In most offices people are seen wearing shirt and wool trousers.
Would linen trouser be good alternative to wool trousers?
Yes they are. Whether they’re casual or smart casual depends on the particular linen, the cut and the colour though.
By the way, I notice that you leave a lot of questions – which is fine – but always with different names. Would you mind using your own name please? I think it’s more polite.
Great post! While I’m a big fan of linen, irish linen seems to be too thightly woven to be breathable for those humid god days (even Mersolair and Lisburn bunches you mentioned in other post). Have no idea where to find some open woven ones. Is there any particular bunch you would recommend? Thanks!
Yes, most Italian bunches will be lighter and more breathable – but also wrinkle more
Looking at Dugdale Bros. linen bunches I see the Lisburn (11.9oz/340g) and the Heirloom (13.4oz/380g). Would Heirloom be good for trousers?
I haven’t used the Heirloom, but I would think it would be good, yes. Did you have any concerns about it other than the weight?
Thank you. I thought if Dugdale 11.9oz was good for linen trousers, then 13.4oz would be even better (more substantial crease, less wrinkling, etc).
I wouldn’t worry that much about the difference to be honest. Being Irish, they’re both going to have a great crease, and there won’t be much difference in the wrinkling.
Hi Simon, would different colours of linen shirts and trousers work? For instance, a dark brown linen shirt with sand linen trousers?
Yes they can, though try to have the linens in different weights or weaves if you can.
Also, start with something easy like a white linen shirt, rather than dark brown
As I live in the tropical country and most of time it s hot and humid all year round.
So I m planning to wear a linen shirt and a linen trouser together.However,As you mention above it s not recommended wearing the same color and texture linen.Therefore I hope you could recommend or be more clarify about this.
Would you recommend to play with the weight of the garment as well as having a slik/linen trouser instead of a pure linen trouser.
I would play with the weight, yes, but push perhaps towards having a heavier trouser, or a cotton/linen shirt.
I think it’s something you should judge for yourself though – my role is to bring things up to think about, I think, and it’s up to you to consider whether they matter to you or not. Look in the mirror and see whether it bothers you that they look similar, or not?
Any comments regarding Solbiati’s 14 ounces pure linen and 9 ounces linen/wool/silk blend from Time Off collection?
I live in Texas, USA and planning to have may tailor make a Safari jacket using either of the cloth.
I believe both cloth is a good fit for Texas summer. But durability and heavy wear is my concern though since I rarely take off my jacket during work and sit all day long.
I haven’t tried either I’m afraid, but I’m pretty sure the pure linen will be more robust
Hi Simon, I have noticed that some of my linen jackets and shirts get floppy so quickly, especially around the buttons. I tried pressing hard, but they returned in a few hours. They seem permanent now, which is pretty annoying. Is this something usual for linen products? I have attached a photo for your reference.
Yes, that’s pretty usual for linen Jack. I think you need to accept that kind of softness and openness with linen, unless it’s a jacket with some decent structure inside – which neither of these look like
Hi Simon, I am considering commissioning a linen sports jacket for this summer, and I wanted to ask if it were you, would you choose 14oz twisted linen from an Italian mill or 14oz Irish mill for the sports jacket? I initially thought of going for Irish linen if they make fewer wrinkles, but I was concerned about the shininess.
I wouldn’t worry about shine really on the Irish, but also I wouldn’t necessarily just go by the location of the mill – try to get a sense of the feel of the linen as well, and check the Italian one doesn’t say it’s Irish linen anyway
Okay, thanks, Simon.
Could I ask what you think of this linen from Anglo Italian? It looks like it is unusually heavy for linen, but do you think this would look less l am on holiday and more useful for the UK summer? To be honest, I don’t really suffer from the heat too much during the summer. Also, does a bit too shiny?
I’d say that’s right in terms of weight and appropriate times to wear yes. Hard to say about shininess remotely
Thank you, Simon.
Hi, Simon. Great article.
Just received a new Irish linen jacket in a very nice 350gsm. I know linen doesn’t stretch very much at all and is an extremely tough fabric, but can I expect it to soften over time i.e the hand? thanks.
Yes Maxwell, Irish linens are often quite stiff to start with, there’s often a little starch in there. They will soften over time and after cleaning
I know this is a pretty old piece now, so before their time, but I was wondering if you had any plans to cover Maison Hellard? Either in commissions or general editorial? I love what I’ve seen of them online and would love to read some of your thoughts.
No worries Jonny, no PS piece is ever too old!
I have, yes, I’ve been talking to Nathan a fair bit. I haven’t seen much made up, which is an issue, but I’ll certainly do something
I know W&S are making pieces with it now. Sian described it as Italian colors but heavier
Hi simon do you have any experience with linens from solbiatis art du lin range? I heard the linens there are heavier weight and almost suede like finish which makes it appropriate to be worn even in mild winters without looking out of place.
I haven’t, though I have liked the look of them
Thanks simon, i intend to do a navy db soon and am deciding between a heavier linen in the art du lin or just a standard wool. It will be my first db. Im inclined to go with the former because it looks more louche and interesting but something tells me i may regret it and feel i shuld have gotten the wool instead. What do you think?
Also do you ever wear tailoring around your children? Im going on holiday to a cooler climate with my kid and its the tirst time in a long while i can break out some tailoring. However i have a 5 year old who cant eat properly and always gets his hands dirty. Im contemplating if i should just more workweae instead
On the material I would have thought it was largely down to season – you wouldn’t wear the linen through a lot of the year? Also the wool may look smarter.
No, I don’t really wear tailoring around the kids. You can still be fairly smart without going to workwear though – as in the middle option in this piece
Simon. If I could seek your advice please.
I’m travelling to and working in Spain more regularly , and would like a jacket that is both comfortable and relatively robust. It would be a working jacket for photography ,so will have contact with straps and bags. I would like to pair it with either olive or ecru cotton trousers. So, a cotton,not linen jacket? I note your comment about about mixing.
Being able to travel back to London regularly, is now possible, so bespoke is possible,but not essential . Smart but not too formal is the aim.
Is there either a bespoke tailor (or good mtm) you could suggest.
For something that robust and work-related, I wouldn’t go bespoke or MTM really, if it’s going to have a camera round the shoulders and so on. Would it have to be a tailored jacket in style, or something more like a field jacket?
I was thinking of it-mainly as I like to be smart whilst travelling . But, possibly a good jacket for travel and a work jacket would be a better fit.
Funnily enough,my wife suggested a lightweight cord jacket for work.
I think that sounds like a nice avenue to go down. Cord is also one of those fabrics that looks great in a different way when it’s been worn and worn
Hi Simon, although I am aware it would be pretty difficult to see the colours properly from the photos, could I ask which green you think would be more versatile for a summer jacket? I am hoping to wear it with mid-grey, stone/beige trousers, and possibly with dark smart jeans
They look pretty similar Jack. I’d pick the left one just beacuse the right looks like it has a bit of shine perhaps.
They might both be tricky with mid-grey trousers as they both look to be a similar shade to that
That’s very helpful, thank you.
Could I ask for your opinion once more about the green cloth? Do you think this shade would work fine with the mid-grey trousers? I find it pretty tricky to decide as there are so many different shades of green out there.
That looks pretty brown to me, not green! But I certainly think it would be good with mid-grey trousers, yes
Yes, actually you are right.
Do you think the colour combination of brown over green would be fine in the city?
It depends a lot on your environment, and how you want to look. If you were dressing smartly for an office, it might make more of a difference; if your peers wear no tailoring at all, it’s unlikely to make any difference. And it depends how much you value that being in-keeping with the environment
Hi Simon, do you think an Italian linen jacket and Irish linen trousers could work in different colours?
Yes they should do
I wonder if you had opinions on the following, as I am in Florida and it is hot and humid 2/3 of the year.
Regarding shirts, do the same opinions apply regarding the preference for heavier 12-13oz, and Irish linens?
Also, I know you say above that tobacco, biscuit, and dark/olive green may be good first choices, but I love your brown Sexton linen suit. Would that be included as a good first choice as well, or would you recommend sticking with the above? I currently don’t have a linen suit and it is next on my list.
Finally, would you recommend using an Italian maker even if using Irish linen? The linen suit in question will be mainly casual, for my purposes.
Thank you in advance!
Sure, happy to help:
– No, linen shirts can be very lightweight
– Yes, dark brown like that would be great too
– Yes I would
Thank you, as always!
Are linen/cotton blends (noticeably less cooler (stuffier) than pure linen?
Suitsupply have a 60% Linen/40% Cotton blend (300g) that I want to make trousers in:
1) Is this cool enough to have more or less the same breathability as pure linen?
2) Is such a blend weighty enough to mix those trousers with a pure linen jacket? As you advise to switch up the weights in separates.
It is less cool, yes, though if the majority is linen and it’s trousers rather than a jacket, I doubt you’ll notice much of a difference. It might make more of a difference the drape of the material.
I haven’t tried this fabric, but I’d imagine the cotton would give it a sufficiently different texture to a pure linen jacket, yes.
Thanks for your help!
No worries. As you can see from the comments here, there’s quite a few questions answered in this area (though not your one). If you have a future query, often worth doing a ‘fine in page’ search on your browser to see if it has been discussed already
Hi Simon, could I ask what you think of the colour of the fabric in the photo below? It’s Irish linen but the colour looks different in different lights which makes it pretty difficult to decide.
If it looks different in different lights I think it’s going to be pretty much impossible to give advice not seeing it in person Jack. I mean it looks like a pretty good beige, but you’ll be better placed to judge. What are you trying to judge it on anyway? What’s your aim and concern?
I want to find a beige or stone colour, but it almost seems like grey to me from their website (https://www.harrisons1863.com/product/wb61315/ ), which confuses me a bit. But if that looks like a pretty good beige from the photo, maybe I am on the right track.
I’d go off what you see in person rather than online, but still worth looking at alternatives if you’re concerned about it. Also try putting it over something you’d wear with it, like a white shirt
Alright. Thank you, Simon
Hi simon have you used albini linen for shirting? How are they?
Very nice, though there isn’t much difference between those large Italian mills
Would you have the jacket of the suit unlined in the back for breathability? Or does that reduce the the drape of the jacket too much? Thinking about commission a suit in heavier Irish linen. Thanks!
We go into that in depth in this article on linings, Anton, part of the Suit Style guide
Would you wear linen-tailored odd jackets and trousers in different weaves/textures (e.g. Irish and Italian) but in similar weight?
Yes, usually. I’d keep in mind another combination might look better, but usually that’s fine
I ordered the Irish linen trousers to wear with the jacket made with Italian linen as it had a completely different texture in terms of twill and fineness but now I think I should have ordered a high twist. Is it usually possible to ask the tailor to change the cloth when they are in the middle of the work if I only pay for the cost of the cloth?
Not really Jack, I’m afraid, as they will have spent time and money on the work already
Thank you, Simon.
Could I ask which one between the high twist and Irish linen you find to be smarter? Also, if I mostly wear a linen overshirt or a chore jacket on top, do you think having a completely different material for the trousers would be a more versatile option for me?
High twist is definitely smarter, and I wouldn’t say always goes with more casual jackets, so I’d stay with linen probably
Thank you, Simon.