It’s getting hotter. A sea of sleeveless tees and board shorts drowns the land. Through it wades a lone crusader, fighting on the side of aesthetics. Zoom in. It’s you, wearing a nice linen shirt.
Linen shirts are the best compromise between comfort and style, in that there isn’t a compromise. Button-up flax shirts can be worn almost as formally as standard dress shirts. They’re also the least oppressive thing you can wear in hot weather, other than nothing.
If you’ve never worn linen, there are a couple considerations to keep in mind.
It has a coarse texture. Some people prefer to wear linen blended with cotton or silk, because it chafes less. These will be hotter than 100 percent linen, though.
Linen also wrinkles more easily than any other fabric. The good news is that you can de-wrinkle a linen shirt in two minutes if you buy a cheap hand steamer.
Pick shirts that aren’t too long. You want to be able to wear it untucked, so make sure that the hem doesn’t come down past the middle of your fly. Slimmer is better — no part of the shirt should be baggy.
Linen shirts are commonly made in summery pastels, which can be fine if you don’t overdo it. I prefer more neutral colors such as white, black, blues, and grays.
They look especially good with slim fit, flat front chino shorts. They also pair well with jeans, or long chinos if you want to look dressier. Go as formal as the temperature lets you.
Linen shirts are expensive, unless you thrift them. They are surprisingly easy to find at thrift stores. Goodwills have the largest clothing inventories but are also the most expensive. Salvation Army (during sale days) and San Diego Rescue Mission thrifts are great alternatives.