Look for Linen Now
While it’s only the middle of April and the weather is still fluctuating between pleasantly warm and miserably wet, you should consider thinking optimistically toward summer’s heat and how to dress for it.
For my first few professional years I wore regular cotton dress shirts to work — the same ones I wore year-round — and it never occurred to me until last summer that I ought to put an end to it and look for linen dress shirts.
Derek wrote about linen shirts in the past and where to buy them, but I will say that they’re tougher to find off the rack in exact neck and sleeve sizes — although you can find a decent variety of linen sport shirts off the rack.
If you’d prefer to not wait for end-of-season sales or your non-average length arms are too short/long for most options, then consider finding a made-to-measure option. And act sooner than later.
If you’ve used a shirtmaker before and have your measurements dialed in, then turn-around time will be shorter. But if you’re new to the process or using a shirtmaker that requires longer lead time, giving yourself 6-8 weeks to get shirts that fit is what I’d recommend planning.
I’ve found the cost isn’t much higher than what most retailers would charge. Plus, you’ll get shirts that fit you, the fabrics you want and the details you prefer. But if you wait until summer is already here, you can plan on spending a good amount of it waiting for your shirts to arrive, which isn’t fun.
For those of you who are worried that linen’s wrinkles will be unsuitable for the office, I’d suggest finding a fabric that blends some cotton into the linen. The shirt will still wear cool, but it’ll resist wrinkling better.
If you stick to solid colors, most people won’t notice the shirts you’re wearing are linen under your jacket, but you’ll definitely notice you’re not as sweaty.
One tip I’d give is to add another half inch to your normal sleeve length. As linen wrinkles in the sleeves, the sleeves will ride up. If you want to show some cuff, this extra material helps prevent it.