Introduction

That’s right, it’s that time again. After my previous article deciphering the business-casual dress code for the warmer months, I thought I’d expand on the materials that were mentioned. Because if you are to stand a chance of beating the sweat this summer, then you need to start thinking about seasonal dressing.

Once the sun puts his hat on, it means thinking not only smarter but lighter too. Do away with those thick, heavy weaves such as tweed, corduroy and wool and start looking into pieces that feature open weaves and are lightweight in nature.

Regardless of your opinion of the coming summer, the main flaw in most men’s spring/summer style game is not tailoring their wardrobe to the season. It doesn’t matter if you enjoy layering or not, if you’ve picked the wrong fabric then you’re just making your life harder.

So this is what the next handful of articles will aim to address. What sort of materials should you be keeping an eye out for? What sort of pieces should you buy them in? And what else can they be worn with? With just a few simple guidelines, not only do you get the excitement of unveiling a new wardrobe when you utilise seasonal pieces, but you get added comfort and longevity out of everything you purchase too. Furthermore, seasonal pieces often work better as separates and are more versatile than the standard ‘four season’ fabrics that are pedalled in most high street stores.

And no material fits this description better than your friend and mine – linen.

Embrace The Wrinkles

As per Wikipedia: Made from the fibres of the flax plant, linen is a labour-intensive material to manufacture, but is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather. It’s a very durable, strong fabric, and one of the few that are stronger wet than dry. The fibres don’t stretch and are resistant to damage from abrasion. However, because linen has a very low elasticity, the fabric will eventually break if it is folded and ironed at the same place repeatedly.

And that, I’m sure, is what most of you reading this will have against the fabric: the way it folds and wrinkles with ease. To which I say… so? Embrace the wrinkles and don’t sweat the small stuff when it comes to purchasing an item in linen – you’ll be much better for it. Its gauzy and open nature allows you to feel every gentle breeze passing through and, personally, I find a lot of charm and personality in the wrinkles. After all, summer’s about communicating a relaxed and playful impression and I think linen helps contribute to it.

So, without any more of this piffle, here are my choices of linen items you should be looking to integrate into your summer wardrobe this year.

The Linen Lookbook

Before we start, here is a selection of our favourite outfits that incorporate linen – whether in the form of tailoring, shirts or knitwear:

Men's Linen Clothing Lookbook

HE BY MANGO SS13MASSIMO DUTTI APRIL 2013UNITED COLORS OF Benetton SS13GANT RUGGER SS13Bershka SS13REISS SS13HE BY MANGO SS13THE KOOPLES SS13MASSIMO DUTTI nyc 5th AVENUE ss13REISS SS13AMI SS13CERRUTI 1881 SS13
Linen Suits

This will end up being the work-horse of your summer, trust me. You can wear a linen suit to the office, to a formal event like a wedding/outdoor party or break it up and utilise as separates. It all depends on your mood.

Really make sure you nail the cut and, if this is your first venture into linen, go for something in a darker tone such as navy, chocolate brown or olive. It tends to hide wrinkles better if you’re still concerned about that sort of thing.

Personally, I’ve invested in a beige number that I can wear to the office with a blue dress shirt, navy knitted silk tie and brown brogues, or to a barbeque with a white polo and navy boat shoes. I can also wear the jacket on a night out with a grey tee and lightweight indigo jeans. Meanwhile, the trousers are perfect for those final hours on the beach when the breeze picks up.

  • Stone Cotton Linen Mix Slim Fit SuitStone Cotton Linen Mix Slim Fit Suit
  • He By Mango Linen-blend Tailored BlazerHe By Mango Linen-blend Tailored Blazer
  • He By Mango Linen-blend Suit TrousersHe By Mango Linen-blend Suit Trousers
  • Reiss Rushby Three Button Notch Lapel Linen Suit GreyReiss Rushby Three Button Notch Lapel Linen Suit Grey
  • Burberry London Slim-fit Cotton And Linen-blend Suit JacketBurberry London Slim-fit Cotton And Linen-blend Suit Jacket
  • Burberry London Slim-fit Cotton And Linen-blend Suit TrousersBurberry London Slim-fit Cotton And Linen-blend Suit Trousers
  • Reiss Rushby Three Button Notch Lapel Linen Suit Airforce BlueReiss Rushby Three Button Notch Lapel Linen Suit Airforce Blue
  • Topman Blue Flecked Skinny SuitTopman Blue Flecked Skinny Suit
  • John Lewis Classic Linen Suit ChocolateJohn Lewis Classic Linen Suit Chocolate
  • John Varvatos Linen Suit 153118John Varvatos Linen Suit 153118
  • Oliver Spencer Freud Slim-fit Linen Suit JacketOliver Spencer Freud Slim-fit Linen Suit Jacket
  • Oliver Spencer Pleated Linen Suit TrousersOliver Spencer Pleated Linen Suit Trousers
Linen Shirts

I’m talking about dress shirts. Sure, you can continue wearing your normal broadcloth cotton ones but when you pair a linen shirt with a navy cotton suit, then you’re really talking.

Again, these are going to see a lot of wear – so if you’re still concerned about wrinkles invest in cotton/linen blends to help keep them at bay. Wear them with madras or tropical wool ties with bold patterns and you can’t lose.

If that doesn’t seem like your sort of thing, then why not invest in a short sleeved one for your days off? I have a navy version that I picked up from Uniqlo a few years ago that goes great with white shorts and espadrilles.

  • Uniqlo Men Premium Linen Long Sleeve Shirt AUniqlo Men Premium Linen Long Sleeve Shirt A
  • Richard James Gingham Check Linen-blend ShirtRichard James Gingham Check Linen-blend Shirt
  • Canali Printed Linen Button-down Collar ShirtCanali Printed Linen Button-down Collar Shirt
  • He By Mango Linen Straight-fit ShirtHe By Mango Linen Straight-fit Shirt
  • John Varvatos Roll Sleeve Linen Shirt 153120John Varvatos Roll Sleeve Linen Shirt 153120
  • Richard James Linen And Cotton-blend ShirtRichard James Linen And Cotton-blend Shirt
  • Reiss Ocho Long Sleeve Slub Linen Formal Shirt PeachReiss Ocho Long Sleeve Slub Linen Formal Shirt Peach
  • Reiss 1971 Piccolo Linen Shirt Light BlueReiss 1971 Piccolo Linen Shirt Light Blue
  • Orlebar Brown Flemming Linen Shirt 148026Orlebar Brown Flemming Linen Shirt 148026
Linen Knitwear

That’s right, linen knitwear. Admittedly, this type of knitwear is more suited to spring, when they add an extra layer of protection without wearing too warm, but who’s to say that you couldn’t wear a v or crew neck jumper solo with some chinos on a chilled out July day by the river?

Due to the nature of the material, this type of knitwear also tends to hold its shape quite well, even after repeated wear, unlike a lot of cotton or wool versions. However, they are difficult to come by, so this may be more one to keep an eye out for when you go thrifting or when Ralph Lauren, Lands End and Brooks Brothers have a sale.

  • Uniqlo Men Linen Cotton Crew Neck SweaterUniqlo Men Linen Cotton Crew Neck Sweater
  • Loro Piana Linen-knit Crew Neck SweaterLoro Piana Linen-knit Crew Neck Sweater
  • Allsaints Blakeney CardiganAllsaints Blakeney Cardigan
  • A.p.c. Navy And White Striped Linen JumperA.p.c. Navy And White Striped Linen Jumper
  • Our Legacy Plain Round Neck Grey Melange KnitOur Legacy Plain Round Neck Grey Melange Knit
  • Beams Plus Shawl-collar Linen CardiganBeams Plus Shawl-collar Linen Cardigan
  • Allsaints Parade V-neck JumperAllsaints Parade V-neck Jumper
  • Wooyoungmi Textured Linen And Cotton-blend SweaterWooyoungmi Textured Linen And Cotton-blend Sweater
  • Allsaints Parade Grandad JumperAllsaints Parade Grandad Jumper
Final Word

So there you have it guys, a few reasons to consider purchasing more linen items this season, and how to wear them when you do. Of course, linen does have it cons, as we’ve previously mentioned, but the trade-off for clothes that can breathe and keep you cool when it’s hot outside is a small price to pay.

Next week – madras.

Matt Allinson