Linen shirts often get a bad rap, and for good reason. They’re too often ill-fitting, billowing garments that are far from flattering. The linen shirt is often an afterthought, the default ‘summer’ shirt that’s worn because of the lightweight, breathable fabric it’s made from.
But the linen shirt deserves so much more than this, and thankfully a handful of brands are giving it the attention it deserves. Linen shirts are being produced in all manner of interesting cuts and shapes, and, as ever, they remain a great option as the weather heats up.
Why you need a linen shirt
Linen has always been popular because of its natural breathable properties. It’s an ideal fabric for wearing in spring and summer as it won’t weigh you down, and will keep you from overheating, unlike denser, thicker wool and cotton.
The trouble with linen shirts though is so often the fit, which tends to be on the larger side. Then there’s also the reputation of linen shirts being worn by sun-seeking holidaymakers abroad - think baggy pale pink shirts to match their skin. We aren’t suggesting you go this route, but instead follow the path laid out by some of the brands of the moment, who have reinvented the linen shirt in a range of inventive styles and fits.
Look out for linen shirts with slimmer, more tailored fits, which will allow for the natural stretch of linen while flattering the wearer. Alternatively, linen overshirts are hot property come summertime - keep an eye on Cuban collars, and functional pocket detailing which injects the linen shirt with a playful, workwear edge.
Best linen shirt brands
Asket prides itself on producing a capsule wardrobe of garments which are both easy to wear and complement each other. Its linen shirt is no different. Cut with a tailored fit and boasting a button-down collar and rear box pleat, it features a relatively short hem, which allows it to be worn untucked - the only way a linen shirt should be worn.
SIRPLUS' classic grandad shirts and collared shirts are sustainably made in Portugal from a blend of organic cotton, recycled cotton and linen, which will beautifully soften with wear. Both styles boast a flattering fit with a subtly curved hem. Wear yours unbuttoned on top of a plain white tee for an effortless laidback look.
Flax London specialises in producing clothes made from linen. From grandad collar shirts to smocks and short sleeve pullovers, its linen shirts are among the best we’ve come across. Its summer railway jacket gets our vote of the season though. Although technically more of a chore jacket than a shirt, it is lightweight and versatile enough to be worn like an overshirt - simply throw it on over a T-shirt with some chinos and make use of its three external patch pockets.
When it comes to beautifully made menswear staples, Luca Faloni is a no-brainer. The 'Made in Italy' label has mastered classic garments like the linen shirt. Its version is made in Northern Italy from the finest Italian linen and features a casual band polo collar and a relaxed fit. Choose from a range of subtle colours and pair with shorts and espadrilles or throw on a linen blazer for more formal occasions.
For more shirting styles, read our ultimate guide to men's shirts.
For the ideal footwear to pair with linen shirts, check out our guide to minimalist sneakers.