Summertime, And the Linen is Easy..


While there are many of us still awaiting the arrival of that fickle mistress, the British Spring, this being  Blighty, summer may arrive, as it so often does, like a swarm of locusts, completely without warning. One day we are pulling galoshes over our Cheaney shoes and popping our Fox umbrellas amid a deluge, the next we are rifling through our wardrobes for a linen suit!

But what if your wardrobe is devoid of this staple of the English summer: t-shirts and board shorts? I think we can do better than that.

So what are the rules of engagement for this old rear guard?

Firstly, it is not a prerequisite that you add  linen to your wardrobe. There are other cloths woven with a plain or panama weave (made up of on yarn in the warp – vertical – and one in the weft – horizontal) which is mesh-like and designed to let heat escape better than a twill weave – which, to all intents and purposes, is designed to trap air against us and keep us warm.

But linen fibre, or flax as it is known before it is processed, is able to absorb 35% of it’s own weight in water, and then release it – Gore-Tex eat your heart out!

So, for those whose attire is not dictated by peer group or one’s chosen field or industry, it is with the onset of the clement weather that we must ask ourselves: to linen or not to linen. And, typically, the first question asked by those taking the plunge is, will it crease? To which the answer is almost invariably yes.

But, there are different degrees of creasing, depending on whether or not the linen is mixed with other fibres.. But more about that later.

Personally, whilst I appreciate the summer-feel of a linen suit, it is actually it’s inherent creasing which I have a penchant for. Call it the renegade within me, or the eccentric Englishman abroad, but, providing the suit is cut to perfection, and the colour is complementary to the wearer, it is the slightly dishevelled appearance of a linen suit which I find most appealing.

But once the decision has been made, then, as with all things Brown in Town we must first consider colour. The colour of one’s suit, is oft’ dictated by application i.e. it is unlikely you will wear a tan linen suit to your place of work if the address incorporates the word ‘chambers’; unless of course you are a partner, it is a Friday, and you are hosting a reception for clients in the afternoon of the last day of the working week and Pimms is being served. If you get my drift.

So, given that linen is available in myriad colours, it is possible to have a linen suit made in a colour that is perfect for you. Leaving considerations of skin tone and hair colour aside, perhaps it would be wise to consider what colour your chosen footwear will be as this will almost certainly have an influence  on your choice of cloth colour.

Now, I did once hear of a linen cloth used by Richard James of Savile Row that was mixed with polyester that prevented creasing almost entirely. However, I have it on good authority from Brown in Town’s local cloth merchant Lear Browne & Dunsford that this cloth is no longer available. So, may I introduce you to Harrisons of Edinburgh’s Mersolair linen, which is a mix of mohair and linen – the mohair providing the crease-resistant properties –  and which, given the mottled palette of it’s summery colours, more easily compliments the rest of one’s ensemble.

And, if you would like Brown in Town’s assistance through this sartorial quagmire, please feel free to get in touch.

Enjoy the Summer, whether dishevelled or otherwise!

Brown in Town