It’s time again for our monthly style report with Cindy and Sarah and we are talking about linen. Linen pieces are a chic choice to upgrade your closet, last for years, and feel good too.
Linen is one of those fabrics that looks luxe on the hottest days and even when wrinkled. I love the look of a linen button up on women and men. Nothing looks as Katherine Hepburn, or Diane Keaton (aka Coastal Grandma) as linen shirts, and white linen suits, linen pants..
Once you begin wearing more linen or linen blends, it’s hard to wear synthetics. I just love the feel of a linen t-shirt in summer. I even sleep in one in winter as they breathe and get softer with each wash. Linen dresses and pants are also the most cool and breathable.
Linen is better for the planet
If you want to build a wardrobe that is more sustainable, long lasting and looks luxe, linen is a fantastic choice!
Did you know linen comes from the flax plant and has been around since ancient Egyptian times and perhaps longer? The nice thing about linen is it uses less water and pesticides than cotton does in the growth process. It’s much better for the planet and it is fast dying. The best way to care for it is to wash in cool water with a gentle detergent and never use a fabric softener on it which will coat the fibers ( It’s generally good to never use fabric softeners anyway.) If you care for your linen it will last and get better over time!
Why linen may have a bad rap..
Did you wear linen the 80’s? Some of us remember it had a big heyday then, and particularly in oversized linen pleated pants and blazers. The linen look back then was ironed and starched within an inch of its life. It was a lot of work and the minute you wore it, it looked bad. That turned a lot of people off linen, including me, a person who hates ironing…The linen of now is worn softer, slightly if at all ironed, and has a casual vibe.
I started collecting linen pieces again the last time we were in the south of France. I noticed all the women wore linen tunics and tops and bottoms there were tons of it in the shops and big stalls of linen dresses at the Provencal markets..
I bought a white dress and the man there told me never to iron, or bleach, wash gently and smooth dry with your hands and lay flat to prevent it from yellowing and to keep the linen fibers soft. I try not to iron and if I do, just lightly without starches.. The soft slightly wrinkled look is modern and feels better too.
I snapped a photo of this chic lady in a linen ensemble at Isle Sur la Sorgue..our favorite market..And next to it my dress from the same market with my guys in 2018..
What pieces do you need?
Pieces I use over and over again in my closet..
A linen blazer
(mine bought at consignment, but similar here and here and here.)
My latest is this by Tahari. I have a few and they all hang beautifully and look great. A perfect layering piece and for travel!
I found a few similar t-shirts here at Eileen Fisher on sale.
Majestic Filatures is also a great brand that has some fantastic linen pieces. This layered white t-shirt is on my list..and Banana has this nice one in many colors..
I also like linen tanks for layering and J. Crew has this and Banana Republic has this with a scoop neck.
I have these Maeve linen blend pants, ( above with the white blazer) and they are my favorite pant this summer. They can be casual or dressed up. They come in a few different colors and they have a bit of cotton/vicose in them too which makes them feel light.
Madewell also has a relaxed linen/cotton trouser here, and this popular Frank & Eileen pair is on my wish list and comes in 6 colors.. The blouse on the left is also a linen blend from Madewell ( runs large fyi- I bought xs.)
Linen is also in many drawstring and relaxed elasticized type of jogger/lounge pants. My favorite plant to travel in are these Camo linen pants by Sanctuary, which are still being carried by Nordstrom. I have had mine for years and they’re super comfy and show no dirt which is nice on a trip, and look cool for a day exploring with a sweater or a tank top, depending on the time of year..
These also caught my eye at Anthro.. Pull on surf pants in linen blend..
Linen button ups
It’s hard to find a linen button-up that is a classic and regular proportioned, but this Tommy Bahama one is about as close as I can find to a perfect linen button-up. It comes in 7 colors and I think I may order the sand color, but there are a lot of lovely colors to choose from.
Anthro also has this linen button up with a cool ruched sleeve detail in eight colors by Maeve..
Rails also has a nice selection of linen button ups in stripes and I also like this Jocelyn top..
And thanks to a reader, Laura, I almost forgot to mention J. Crew’s Irish linen shirts, which come from one of the best makers of linen in Ireland are now marked down! It’s a good time to grab a nice one for the wardrobe..
A linen or linen blend dress..
I have added two linen dresses in the past month to my closet that are turning out to be great additions that feel good and kind of bridge that gap between dressy and California casual..
This Angelina Dress from Rails ( love this California company), is easy, feels light and look polished for anything.. I’ve worn it just to do errands as well as a day out like last weekend when we stopped by the big art show at Filoli to see my friend Heidi and view her art for sale..
I topped it with a white denim jacket when it got windy. ( I just received my new market basket from Mersea and added my tassel.)
Really nice about the Rails pieces, you don’t need a slip with most of their dresses as they have a lining in the bottom half or a double layer of fabric like this dress does.. It doesn’t wrinkle, and has a soft feel that I LOVE! It’s a great piece to travel with and I am taking it to Carmel next week too. I bought this in a Medium and it is longer on me at 5’4 than the model here..
I also have this Rails Jasmine dress with a longer sleeve. Similar fit and love the comfort.
I tried their Tara dress in the black and I wish I bought it. It’s super flattering, with a bit of stretch, and feels great. All of these pieces work for so many different kind of occasions..
Another option in linen dresses is this Jenni Kayne t-shirt dress I’ve been eyeing for a while. I like that it’s linen which is less clingy than a typical t-shirt dress..You could do so much with this.. layer and wear it in fall with an unbuttoned white blouse, or with a sweater over the top..
Etsy is a fantastic source for linen pieces and many are made in Lithuania or like this account Simply Grey, which its out of Slovakia.. How cute is this dress and beautiful blouse? The account is SimplyGreyLife.
Some of the items mentioned in this post..
I’d love to hear your thoughts on linen! Do you have a brand you love or pieces that are your favorites?
If you like this post you can pin this photo on Pinterest..
Now please pop over to see what Cindy and Sarah have to say about linen…
Thanks for being here!
You might also like July’s Signature Style on packing and travel.
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Julie Topkis Nason says
Love love your picks and I usually orders a few of them !! You save me so much time and great options. Lots of love!!!!! Thank you.
Aw thanks so much Julie!! xo
LA CONTESSA says
WELL, MY Bryn Walker CLOSET IS MOSTLY LINEN WITH SOME 100% COTTON TOSSED IN THERE.
I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED LINEN EVEN IN THE 1980’S……..THAT WAS A GOOD DECADE FOR ME!
CHECK SARA’S LINK AS ITS NOT WORKING FOR ME………SHE WROTE A GOOD ENTRO FOR COMMENTING BUT IT SAYS PAGE NOT AVAILABLE WHEN I DID THAT?JUST ME?COULD BE!!
TODAY WAS ALL ABOUT JOHNEY WAS FOR ME……………..YIKES I GET MYSELF INTO TROUBLE THERE!
Well, You of all people should have written this post.. You live in linen!!
Sarah had a glitch and should be back up now.
I have to ask who is Johnny? Johnny Was? They have some good things..
LA CONTESSA says
WHO IS JOHNNY WAS!!!!
OMG…………..MOSTLY FLORAL PRINTS WITH A TOUCH OF A MEXICAN VIBE!THERE IS A STORE IN STANFORD.
I knew.. I love them! I guess I didn’t understand your note! xo
Loving this! Not what you were featuring, but I’d love to know the details on the vertical stripe shirt with pockets. Love your wardrobe choices/style!
Hi Vicki! Thank you so much!
I mistakenly left that striped shirt out. It’s one of my favorites and is also a linen blend from Madewell. I bought an XS as it runs slightly large.. The link is here:
JJ Jacobs says
I absolutely adore linen and have a huge collection in my wardrobe! I get most of mine through a local boutique that carries Habitat and CutLoose lines, as well as J.Jill. To keep my linen “neat,” I actually carry a small spray bottle with water, and spritz it before putting the clothing on and before I leave the car for appointments – it dewrinkles the fabric quickly and keeps the material looking fresh. I recently discovered linen sheets — not sure what took me so long, but I’m never sleeping on anything else again! Thanks for sharing all these amazing clothes – I will definitely check them out.
Hi JJ, This is a great tip! I sometimes carry a little bottle of spray water in the summer anyway, so good to know! I also have just gotten line sheet a few years ago,. I have two sets now and I love them in winter too. Thanks so much!
Karen H, says
Great tip! Thank you
Ok, Kim, you’ve got me sold on linen! Like you mentioned I think of linen from back in the day when it was stiff, required constant ironing and still looked wrinkled. I had a favorite hot pink linen dress, I loved it. But the ironing! I see that its totally different now and I love the more relaxed look. And the casual, comfortable feel. I have one linen t-shirt and it’s a go-to … I never realized why I love it so much. Now I know. You, of course, look amazing in your linen looks … and are an amazing example and inspiration. Those Rails dresses are fabulous. You’ve included so many great links. I’m going to buy some t-shirts and a pair of loose pants. Great post … and now I’ve got to get to work cleaning out my closet and making room for linen! xo
Juliet, I know I also had a favorite dress back in the 80’s, white linen with a big wide belt.. I would work so hard to get that thing perfect!! I love the Rails dress. I wish I could wear the cute style you did with the lemons and blue stripes. You look so good in them.. Funny I am cleaning the closet today too and getting rid of a lot of old t’s and getting some nicer ones! xx
Francesca B says
I love linen and always buy some new picks each summer. Garnet Hill had a really lovely simple slip dress in linen that l bought in dark green last year and this year cinnamon. I also love their linen patterned shirts. Best of all though was your recommendation for Tommy Bahama’s linen jacket which is so lovely and l love the price; the natural one gets lots of compliments and then l went back for the navy. Don’t mind the wrinkles at all.
Happy week Kim take care,
Francesca, I love that Tommy B jacket too! Maybe I need a navy- or black? They’re just really nicely made and look good right? I also have my eye on their linen ruffle collar dress with the pockets..Thanks I forget about Garnet Hill!!
Thanks so much! Have a great week too! xo
I like linen dresses and have bought some great ones at reasonable prices from Etsy sellers based in Eastern Europe (I think Lithuania). The quality is fantastic, prices are below $150. Only issue is lead time as the dresses are made to order to your measurements and in your choice of color, then there is the shipping time.
Cathy, I was going to link to some of the Lithuanian sellers at Etsy! I am actually Lithuanian too and I found it fascinating so many of the beautiful linen things come from there, and probably worth waiting for..Great reminder. Thanks so much!
These linen posts have me trying more linen. I have a love- hate relationship
with linen because of those wrinkles! I wore it when I lived in Atlanta but
kept ironing it because I felt so sloppy in the wrinkles! Now I am trying
to do this hand press & hang up you and Cindy mention but haven’t
mastered it because all I see is those wrinkles! LOL!! Its funny that
I see linen on many women here in Scottsdale and like it, I say there are
good wrinkles and bad ones, could my linen not have good wrinkles ?😂
Love those choices though. I have had good luck with Bryn Walker
and I just got some linen pieces from Quince and was so impressed
with the quality and the incredibly low prices. You look so cute in those
dresses too! Can’t show my knees anymore, not as cute as they used
to be but love the longer wider leg pants. Gave me the push to wear
more of my linen! Thanks
Char I am cracking up! I so get what you are saying.. There could be good and bad wrinkles!! I am sure yours are good.LOL. Quince is a great source and a friend pointed them out to me! Also Bryn Walker always has lovely things..
I hope you find the right pieces that aren’t a hassle. You just don’t want to have to be a slave to your clothes right? Ease is what we should have!
Try taking the linen out after washing and hand smooth it.. if it needs a slight warm press quickly and them spray with water to release the wrinkles after wearing. You should get more wears without a lot of ironing again, which is bad for the fabric too! Good luck! xo
Kim this was a great post. I did not know we could link to frank and eileen-love them and I love those pants. Have you tried them on. They look like they might be lower cut. I always have trouble with low waisted pants because I have a small waist and large behind! Love anything linen!
Cindy I have tried them on with Juliet when we were in Danville shopping and they are a mid rise which I liked. If you want high rise, maybe not the one, but they have other options! Loved your post and thinking about seasons..
I iron my linen before wearing but then after it gets some soft wrinkles, I don’t let them bother me. I have probably been looking for new black linen pants for 6 years! My old ones lost their intense black color and I got rid of them but I cannot find new ones I like! The quest continues. I also have linen sheets and love how they soften with each wash. Linen is my very favorite fiber. Thanks for sharing your own finds.
Wren I sort of do a light press on things that need it after washing, but lightly…. and then do what you do. I also could use a pair of black linen pants. It’s funny there were less options and maybe as we are getting into fall they have less, but they really are a year round item, especially in California and warmer places. I love my linen sheets too! xo
Karen H. says
Oh Kim, I Love all these linen pieces. You look so cute and can wear them so well. I’ll be checking out a number of these items and keeping fingers crossed about the sizing. Thanks for a great post on linen. Xo
Thanks so much Karen! You are so sweet.
Love this post. Just about to purchase a few of the Irish linen pieces from JCrew – the navy dress and white button down. I’ve put some of your excellent suggestions on my list as well – especially the black dress. Live in the North East where summers are short, but hotter and hotter every year. I am a big knitter and have been knitting linen tees and they do not wrinkle. Love them so much. Also have a few of the Etsy Lithuanian Linen tops and they’re fantastic, but definitely heavier weight.
Hi Laura, I noticed the J. Crew Irish linen is now on sale! Thanks for the reminder. I have been meaning to get one of those shirts. I know the linen made at the mill they are using is supposed to be the best quality linen! I will share it in my post.
Wow how wonderful you can knit linen tees! I love that they travel so well and don’t wrinkle. I wish I had the skills to do that. Good to know about the Lithuanian linen too.
Thank you so much.
Great recap on all things linen! I love it, don’t care if it wrinkles. I think it might be my somewhat European upbringing but I’ve always thought it was super stylish! I have a ton in my wardrobe – dresses, tunics, joggers, shirts, and fun tops, and really am happy when I wear it! Lightweight, breathable, stylish, it ticks all the boxes! I have something called Crease Release that i spay on the really stubborn wrinkles but otherwise i just put it on and forget about it!
So many fun options here and I especially like those camo pants!I have a cotton pair but think linen would be even better!
Thanks Heidi! You are so right, when I think of linen in summer, I think of Europe! They are mad about it there and the shops are loaded with linen! I forgot about crease release.. I wonder if it works as well as spray water? I will look for it. The camo pants are good to have right? xo
Mary Ann Pickett says
Linen is definitely my friend here in Florida …and you have given us so many great options!! Thank you.
Mary Ann, I bet you will be wearing it a lot. It really is so great for me as I have a lot of hot flashes.. xo
Annie Diamond says
Kim! I Love your style! So many good pieces here! I do recall linen of the 80s when I guess we thought everything needed to be ironed, and then, of course, it looked just awful! But now, a totally different looks and feel. It’s casual, low maintenance, and comfortable! You look fabulous!
Annie, so glad we don’t need to iron so much now! You and I love the same things. xo
love linen and have a closet full- I am going to make a comment in regard to the sheets I purchased recently. I bought some very expensive linen sheets and hate them. They are so scratchy. I have tried it all to try and make them soft, short of beating them on the rocks at the river. I guess just be careful if you decide to get yourself some- husband hates them too.
Esther what kind of sheets did you get? I have two sets from Serena & Lily and honestly they were sort of rough the first few washings and now they are super soft. Maybe they just need time? Could also be the manufacturer? Have you tried asking for a refund? I would as they are not cheap. Good luck! xo
Kim, you always look so stylish and beautiful! I love all of your linen outfits. I myself am a huge fan of linen. I have about 20 white linen shirts and they are my go to all summer long. Dresses and shorts too. I will say that TJmaxx and Marshalls both get beautiful Italian linen pieces in during the summer and they are very reasonably priced. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks Elizabeth! I agree they seem to get some cool imported linen pieces from Italy! A good time to grab one. xo
Kim- The pic is hard for me determine. Did you get the green or blue in the Madewell linen shirt? Thanks for sizing.
Cathy I think I have the green! I agree, even I was confused when I linked to it, they are so similar. I looked at my shirt and I’m nearly positive it’s the greener stripe!
Martha Foss says
I love Lennon! It’s probably one of my favorite things to wear. It took me a long time not to iron it within an inch of its life, probably a holdover from the 80s! As usual I get such good ideas from you. I’m ironing that linen T-shirt dress for my trip to the Mediterranean in two weeks! Thanks for a great blog I love to read it !
Linen is so good for travel right? Aww have the best time on your trip to the Mediterranean! xo