La Vida Linen

Your new-season staple goes with more than just shorts and flip-flops

The oldest textile known to man is here to help you to embrace laidback living – and make an understated statement in the process.

Ah, the linen shirt – every dad’s favourite summer go-to. You might think it only pairs well with board shorts, but allow us to plead a case for it and show you why this breezy must-have will soon be your favourite sunny-season piece too. So why all the fuss about linen, you ask? Well, for one, it’s a tried-and-tested natural fabric. It’s actually the oldest textile known to man, as in prehistoric old. Made from the fibres of the flax plant, linen’s use goes as far back as 7 000 BC when the Egyptians would make their clothes from it.

It comes from the same family of fabrics as hemp and ramie, which are also made from plants and used in the production of textiles and clothes. It’s quick-drying, lightweight, breathable and naturally anti-bacterial, making it ideal for warm weather. It’s also a lot more durable than cotton. So much so that the ancient Egyptians used it for ship sails and, get this: the bandages they would wrap mummies in. Plus, if you’re a proponent of environmentally friendly production, you’ll love linen. It takes approximately 100 days to go from seed to harvest, whereas a fabric like cotton takes up to 60 more.

 

 

There are lots of perks to wearing this underrated material, but first and foremost, it’s all about the fit and how you style it. This season’s linen shirt has to be sleek and fitted. Think of your favourite Oxford shirt and how slim the silhouette is. That’s the look you want to go for as it’s an updated take on how your old toppie wears it. Be sure to choose a shirt that will fit seamlessly into your existing wardrobe or, if you’re looking for a statement piece, bring something new and fresh to it. Play around with bright colours, graphic prints and wide Cuban collars. As for what you pair it with – linen shirts go with more than just shorts and flip-flops. Here are three ways to style it up, down or in-between for a refreshing, post-WFH take on traditional workwear. Read on and button up!

For a formal affair

If you’re like us, you’ve probably been itching for an excuse to dress up and leave the house/home office/home cinema/home restaurant… you get it. Is there a wedding or intimate dinner party coming up? Then it’s the perfect time to bring out a white slim-fit linen shirt. Wear it with a suit in a light material – you have permission to go for a suave-looking head-to-toe linen ensemble here if you want!

 

Go for colours like pink, blue and beige in pastel tones and finish things off with a pair of brown loafers. Look even smarter by adding a few accessories like a pocket square or lapel pin. ‘Tis the season for going sockless too (or at least making it look like you are) so wear some no-show socks instead of your usual go-to, provided you don’t forget to moisturise those ankles. Channel your inner Chris Pine attending a premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and rock your signature sunglasses too.

 

For a new take on office style

Now that most of us have spent well over a year and a half working from home, it’s safe to say that what used to be considered office-appropriate has changed drastically. Now, it’s all about prioritising comfort but still looking sharp, even though the ensemble is slightly more relaxed. If you’re stuck wondering how to tackle workwear in the coming months as we slowly make our way back outside, the linen shirt is your best companion. Team it with comfy chinos, a bomber jacket and finish off by lacing up in plain white sneakers. Get trousers that have an elasticated waist which gives them a more laidback vibe, while the bomber jacket, a casual staple, can easily be dressed up depending on the occasion. It’s still cool enough to wear out on the streets but still looks put-together and smart enough for an office setting.

For a laidback vibe

While we’re on the idea of putting comfort before everything else, allow us to make one more proposition: it’s time to elevate your sweats to the next level. Try on a pair of tapered joggers, retro trainers with your patterned or coloured linen shirt for your next casual outing. Just make sure the sweats are actually fit for wearing out and about – we aren’t talking about your WFH, your weekend or cleaning sweats, and we aren’t thinking about sporty tracksuit pants either. No, these elevated joggers could be an excellent stand-in for chinos if you dress them up the right way. Make sure they’re of the slim-fit variety and made from high-quality material that won’t pill or fade.

 

How to look after your linen shirt

Now that we’ve given you some inspiration on how to style your linen shirt, remember to prolong its life by using a gentle spin cycle if you’re going to wash it in a machine. For handwashing, take care to not wring or scrub the fabric too hard as this may make the shirt lose its shape. For machine washes, don’t overcrowd the machine and make sure you wash it with similar colours and fabrics. Put it in the dryer on a low temperature and take it out while it’s still damp. Iron it immediately if the natural creases don’t work for you and you want a clean, fresh look. 

 

Moral of the story? Treat your linen shirt well, and it’ll only get better with age.