Know your fabrics: Linen

Know your fabrics: Linen

As the snow starts to melt and the temperature starts to rise (slowly but surely…) summer is on its way and it’s almost time to start getting your wardrobe ready for the heat. When dressing for summer, keep these 3 things in mind: ease, comfort and keeping cool. We’ve all had that day when we’ve put on too many layers and have spent the rest of the day with our arms down at our sides trying to hide the sweat stains! Sometimes though its not about the layers but the fabric itself. We all know the basics of what not to wear in the sun but what fabrics are ideal for keeping you as cool as possible?

For this reason I’ve put together a list of light weight, easy-to-wear fabrics that will not only keep you cool this spring and summer but fresh as well. First up: linen.


When it comes to light weight fabrics linen is in a class of its own. This flax plant textile comes in two varieties: shorter length fibers used for coarser fabrics and longer fibers used for finer fabrics. Once spun, linen comes in a bunch of natural color ranges such as ivory, ecru, tan, and light grey. Linen also has a natural texture which creates an interesting visual appeal.

Linen is one of the oldest textiles around. Fragments of the fabric were to have been found in a cave that researchers say dates back to 8000 BC! In ancient Egypt linen was sometimes used as currency only affordable by the wealthy. And it was also used to wrap the dead we now know as mummies because Egyptians saw linen as a cloth that represented light and purity.

When it comes to fashion, linen is always a go to in the summer months. It’s often used as an alternative for heavier fabrics such as wool, and it comes in a variety of different garment options. The only downfall to linen, is it wrinkles very easily and more noticeably than other fabrics.

For some reason whenever I think about linen, I always picture a beach wedding. It could be because of all the destination wedding parties I’ve dressed in the past but there’s something about linen and North America that just don’t get along. This could be because we only have a 2-4 month window (if we’re lucky…) of warm summer heat or maybe its because of the avaibility of a well fitted linen item. Another reason is most retailers that sell linen apparel cater to an older, more mature client. For this reason linen has gotten a bad rap. Most guys here only know linen as ill fitting, vacation wear! With that being said, let’s travel across the pond to southern Italy. Italian men everywhere are not only wearing linen, but they are wearing well tailored, unlined, linen suits, shirts, and pants! Believe it. These southern European gentlemen not only understand menswear like no one else, but they understand that it’s the little details that make each look a great one. Let’s compare:

America vs Italy linen

American Linen vs Italian Linen

Which look do you like better? I guess the moral of the story here is there is linen clothing beyond Tommy Bahama!

Yours truly,

Mr. Cavaliere