As soon as the weather in the South gets above 70 or 80 degrees consistently, we often look to grab those more breathable fabrics in our closet. There’s nothing that will beat the sweltering afternoon sun and heat better than a linen garment. Whether it be linen pants, a linen jacket or a linen-blend tee, these items keep us Southerners easy, breezy and stylish.
But just like any must-have item, there are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to rocking it successfully. Let’s dive into some of these tips and tricks that have helped my style-coaching clients wear linen in style all spring and summer long.
1. No Boxy Pieces!
The number one style tip I can give you regarding linen? Avoid anything boxy. Boxy shaped garments are no one’s friend as they simply make you appear the shape of the garment — a box. Instead, look for linen-blend tops and jackets that have cotton, silk or another material in it to allow the garment to have more drape to it. Drape is a key element to look for when shopping for linen items. The perfect drape prevents the dreaded clingy effect of thinner items, as well as the not-so-flattering boxy effect of stiff linen garments. Thankfully, many brands have evolved and are making 100% linen pieces that are also soft and never stiff.
2. Embrace the Wrinkles
If you’re a linen lover, then you know how frustrating it can be to see the wrinkles quickly forming when wearing a linen dress, pant or top. It feels like as soon as you put on the item, it wrinkles and there’s no stopping it. The newer form of linen wrinkles much less than your traditional stiff and boxy linen. But keep in mind that laundering your linen properly can help you look more effortless and less messy. Avoid starching your linen items as it then appears rigid and linen is meant to look “lived in.” If your linen garments need some freshening up, blast out the deeper and more noticeable wrinkles with a steamer. In the end, know that linen will wrinkle. Let it be and wear outfits that don’t emphasize the wrinkles. And, of course, wear linen in situations and to occasions where that more relaxed look is appropriate.
3. Light & Summery
It is important to wear linen with other spring and summer fabrics, never with fall or winter fabrics, to keep the look light and airy. Also, stick to neutral, pastel and other soft tones when putting together your linen-based outfits as linen is meant to look summery.
4. Dress it up!
Now that you know the importance of a well-draped linen garment, let’s focus on wearing linen to work, to dressy-casual outings and, of course, casually. Putting together polished, flattering and current outfits is always on the top of my clients’ checklist. Whether I am working with my clients one-on-one or via my Style Yourself Chic Society membership site, we always discuss dressing for the occasion and finding that effortlessly chic outfit.
Linen outfits are typically best reserved for more casual occasions but, when worn in the right silhouettes, can be great for work or dressy-casual events. When elevating your linen look, it is best worn in a tailored blazer, sheath or A-line dress or a button down. If appropriate, roll up the sleeves on your linen blazer or button down for a more relaxed look and to hide any wrinkles that would naturally form around your elbow. Toss a cotton or silk-blend cardigan over your linen dress for a fun take on textures and to hide any wrinkles that may form during wear. Avoid linen pants as they tend to look quite wrinkled and unprofessional by the end of the day.
5. Go Casual
If you enjoy wearing linen more casually, then you are in luck as there are so many ways to wear this summer fabric casually. First, a linen (of course, well-draped) tee is wonderful paired with some summer jeans, shorts, tucked into a casual skirt, or even with a pair of breezy joggers. Keep in mind that the half-tuck can be a wonderful technique to give your linen tee a more flattering shape. In my Instagram video, you can learn the proper way to half-tuck your tee or shirt. Second, a linen dress is fabulous when it really heats up in the summer. Stick to linen dresses that are flattering and have shape. This means a more defined waist. And keep the look casual, relaxed and paired back with cute sandals or sneakers. A denim jacket can be a great topper for when the A/C is blasting indoors. Lastly, a linen blend pair of chinos or joggers can be wonderful if you are not a fan of wearing shorts. The key is keeping the cut tailored, never boxy or baggy. And never wear head-to-toe linen as texture is important in creating a polished yet effortless look.
Now it’s time to dive into your own closet, cleanse any boxy linen pieces hiding in there and make room for some fresh new pieces that flatter you and keep you cool all summer long.
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