The Switch
Rigidity about the beginnings and ends of seasons for clothing denies the variability of our climate. Labor Day has come and gone, and meteorological summer ends in a few days, but even though I have an itch for scratchier fabrics, if the weather calls for it I’ll still wear linen in September. Still, it’s about time to give up and put away the seersucker and linen or the rust tweeds in the closet will just get rustier. Storage of seasonal clothing is like re-sorting a record collection for music nerds enthusiasts—to dabblers it’s a chore but to the truly dedicated it can be deeply satisfying. Derek put together a helpful to-do list for seasonal storage a couple of years ago, and it’s worth revisiting his tips as you put away your summer stuff:
Wash or dry clean your clothes before you store them. This ensures that insects aren’t packed away with your clothes and that any food bits, which can attract insects, will be gone as well. I even give my clean clothes a good shake before they’re actually stored. 
Check the pockets to make sure they’re empty. I also zip up the zippers and button the buttons, just to make sure things are in good order. 
Get muslin or canvas garment bags for your trousers, jackets, and suits. I’ve found that these work better than plastic since they allow your clothes to breathe while keeping the bugs at bay. It’s also recommended that you use hangers with molded shoulders for your jackets and suits. Many people believe that this helps your garments keep their shape, though I’ve read credible sources cast doubt on this claim. Still, I’m not testing the matter with my clothes, so I play it safe. 
For sweaters and shirts, store them in plastic bins with lids. Drill a few holes into the lid so that air can circulate. Failing to do so can create moisture, which in turn can cause mildew. Pack them away with the heaviest items on the bottom, and be sure not to overstuff things, otherwise you’ll ruin the fibers. I also wrap my favorite pieces in acid free tissue paper, but this isn’t terribly necessary.
Put cedar balls or lavender in along with your clothes to deter bugs. 
Choose a storage space that is cool and dry. If you don’t, your clothes may develop mold, and if they do, they will have a smell that will be very, very difficult to get out. I’ve had clothes permanently ruined from being stored in damp areas, so be careful. Once you’ve chosen a place, vacuum and clean it out before your store your clothes there. 
If you have silverfish in your home, and you’ve put holes in the lids of your storage bins, put those bins off the floor. This will lower the likelihood of having silverfish snack on your garments.
I’d add a few more things:
Take the opportunity to cull your wardrobe. Clothing that is truly worn out should be trashed; stuff that no longer fits you or that you no longer need can be ebay’d, consigned, or donated. Bonus: room for more stuff.
Mothballs still exist; don’t use them. They’re toxic and they smell it. Lavender and cedar are ideal. You can buy cedar sachets or make them—if you don’t need them to be photogenic you can find spice bags at kitchen or hardware stores.
If you (like me) weren’t as careful as Derek when putting away your fall/winter stuff last year: (1) immediately clean any tailoring or sweaters you didn’t clean pre-storage; (2) steam wrinkles out of suits that got creased in storage, but don’t overdo it—if it’s really wrinkled, get it professionally pressed.
If you’ve stored stuff poorly in the past (stretched out knits, left suit jackets on wire hangers for months), now’s the time to repent and do right by your clothes.
-Pete

The Switch

Rigidity about the beginnings and ends of seasons for clothing denies the variability of our climate. Labor Day has come and gone, and meteorological summer ends in a few days, but even though I have an itch for scratchier fabrics, if the weather calls for it I’ll still wear linen in September. Still, it’s about time to give up and put away the seersucker and linen or the rust tweeds in the closet will just get rustier. Storage of seasonal clothing is like re-sorting a record collection for music nerds enthusiasts—to dabblers it’s a chore but to the truly dedicated it can be deeply satisfying. Derek put together a helpful to-do list for seasonal storage a couple of years ago, and it’s worth revisiting his tips as you put away your summer stuff:

  • Wash or dry clean your clothes before you store them. This ensures that insects aren’t packed away with your clothes and that any food bits, which can attract insects, will be gone as well. I even give my clean clothes a good shake before they’re actually stored. 
  • Check the pockets to make sure they’re empty. I also zip up the zippers and button the buttons, just to make sure things are in good order. 
  • Get muslin or canvas garment bags for your trousers, jackets, and suits. I’ve found that these work better than plastic since they allow your clothes to breathe while keeping the bugs at bay. It’s also recommended that you use hangers with molded shoulders for your jackets and suits. Many people believe that this helps your garments keep their shape, though I’ve read credible sources cast doubt on this claim. Still, I’m not testing the matter with my clothes, so I play it safe. 
  • For sweaters and shirts, store them in plastic bins with lids. Drill a few holes into the lid so that air can circulate. Failing to do so can create moisture, which in turn can cause mildew. Pack them away with the heaviest items on the bottom, and be sure not to overstuff things, otherwise you’ll ruin the fibers. I also wrap my favorite pieces in acid free tissue paper, but this isn’t terribly necessary.
  • Put cedar balls or lavender in along with your clothes to deter bugs. 
  • Choose a storage space that is cool and dry. If you don’t, your clothes may develop mold, and if they do, they will have a smell that will be very, very difficult to get out. I’ve had clothes permanently ruined from being stored in damp areas, so be careful. Once you’ve chosen a place, vacuum and clean it out before your store your clothes there. 
  • If you have silverfish in your home, and you’ve put holes in the lids of your storage bins, put those bins off the floor. This will lower the likelihood of having silverfish snack on your garments.

I’d add a few more things:

  • Take the opportunity to cull your wardrobe. Clothing that is truly worn out should be trashed; stuff that no longer fits you or that you no longer need can be ebay’d, consigned, or donated. Bonus: room for more stuff.
  • Mothballs still exist; don’t use them. They’re toxic and they smell it. Lavender and cedar are ideal. You can buy cedar sachets or make them—if you don’t need them to be photogenic you can find spice bags at kitchen or hardware stores.
  • If you (like me) weren’t as careful as Derek when putting away your fall/winter stuff last year: (1) immediately clean any tailoring or sweaters you didn’t clean pre-storage; (2) steam wrinkles out of suits that got creased in storage, but don’t overdo it—if it’s really wrinkled, get it professionally pressed.
  • If you’ve stored stuff poorly in the past (stretched out knits, left suit jackets on wire hangers for months), now’s the time to repent and do right by your clothes.

-Pete

Real People: Summer Linen Suit

My friend gdl203 maintains a really nice thread on StyleForum where he reposts his favorite pictures that other members have posted of themselves. It’s a nice way to catch some of the best looks on StyleForum if you don’t have time to follow one of the many “What Are You Wearing Today” threads (where the activity can get quite busy). Gdl203 doesn’t update his thread often, but when he does, it’s always great.

His latest post came three days ago, and it’s of a StyleForum member in Germany named David. David is seen here attending an alumni mixer while wearing a khaki linen suit, blue and white candy stripe shirt, and a solid brown tie. For shoes, he has chestnut colored wingtips, which is a much more summery color than your standard dark browns.

I like how the stripes on his shirt break up the expanse of solid colors on his suit and tie. It adds a bit of variation where a solid blue shirt would have not. I also really appreciate how breathable the suit looks. Not only is it made from a pure linen, but it has three patch pockets. This allows it to do away with any lining that would otherwise be necessary to protect interior bags used for welted pockets. And though it’s hard to judge from a photo, the coat also looks quite soft, suggesting that the canvassing and chest piece inside are relatively thin. Having an unlined jacket with only a thin layer of material allows heat to escape more easily, thus letting the wearer stay as cool as possible. Useful if you, like me, get hot easily.

Of course, what I really like most are the wrinkles. While some people can’t stand how linen rumples and creases, I think the look imparts a certain carefree, natural charm. It suggests that the wearer himself is stylish, not that his clothes are perfect.  

Keeping Summer Simple

I don’t love shorts, but I wear them. Why? The truth is that I’m a San Francisco guy living in Los Angeles. My internal thermostat can handle temperatures from about 55 to 80, so when the weatherman says “high of 91” and I don’t have a meeting or a reason to wear something fancy, I reach for a pair of shorts. It’s tough to admit, but it’s true.

When it’s genuinely hot outside, I work hard to keep things simple and lightweight. Above is the kind of outfit I’m talking about. The shirt’s from J. Crew - right now they’re full retail, $89.50 (!), but I didn’t pay more than $30 for any of the linen in my closet. I usually buy them in-store late in the summer, when they’ve been marked down a couple times. When I see some plain white linen that works well for me, and it’s $23 a pop, I buy a few. I’ve got a couple with something going on, and a couple more in white and light blue solid. Perfect for every occasion.

The shorts are by Uniqlo, and they’re $30. These aren’t world beaters, quality-wise, but they’ll get you through a summer or two. Focus on basics - khaki is of course number one, but white’s surprisingly easy to wear when it’s genuinely summer out. Navy blue’s pretty useful, too.

The shoes are plain plimsolls - traditional canvas sneakers. I actually bought this pair a few weeks ago right after posting about them here, they’re Keds. Thirty five bucks out the door (though there are only a couple sizes left now). Plain white and navy are workhorses for summer sneakers. If they get dirty, don’t sweat it. If they get gross and ratty, replace them. Besides Keds, we like to recommend Converse and Superga. Keep those feet fresh with no-show socks like these.

There are other options, of course. I love the madras shorts and shirts from Lands’ End, for example. I’m a big ghurka shorts man, and if it’s really summery and I’m not walking too far, I wear espadrilles. But frankly, with a simple, coordinated outfit like this, you’ll have 99% of the other chumps beat. Heck, just by covering your toes you’ll have 90% beat. And trust me: no one wants to see your toes.

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. 
-Kiyoshi

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. 

-Kiyoshi

Linen Sweaters

Linen sweaters can be very useful in the fall. They add an extra layer of protection without wearing too warm, making them perfect for days that range from chilly to cool. Cotton sweaters do this as well, of course, but every cotton sweater I’ve owned has lost its shape too easily. The body and sleeves bag after a while, cuffs lose their elasticity, and wrinkles get set into the elbows. Fine for sweatshirts, but less ideal if you want something dressier.  

That leaves linen, which I’ve been wearing on weekends. The Bay Area’s weather has this annoying tendency to not be so chilly in the afternoon that you’d need a sweater, but as soon as nightfall comes, you quickly wish you had one. So I’ve been wearing my linen sweater on days like these, which has kept me comfortable in both the afternoons and evenings.

In addition, I’ve found that linen can add a bit of texture to an otherwise unremarkable ensemble. For example, in the photo above, I have my brown leather jacket, light blue cotton shirt, and grey flannel trousers. Put together, there’s perhaps too much reliance on solid colors, but once you add the rougher texture of a linen sweater, you add a little subtle variation where there needs to be. (Granted, my own pictures don’t show this texture off very well, but the last image, taken from A Suitable Wardrobe, does).

Unfortunately, there aren’t many places that make, or even sell, linen sweaters. The best I know of is Inis Meain. Where you’d think linen can bag over time, Inis Meain’s version holds up just as good as the best merinos and lambswools. You can buy one from A Suitable Wardrobe. In the past, they’ve also manufactured them for Ben Silver and JL Powell, but those retailers are not selling them at the moment. For something more affordable, check Brooks Brothers, Land’s End, and Club Monaco. Those are unfortunately linen-cotton blends, which makes me suspect they won’t hold their shape as well over time, but on the upside, they’re also a fraction of the price. You can also find linen-cotton blend sweaters at Ralph Lauren, though they don’t seem to stock any recommendable ones this season. Ebay may have some from previous years, but you’ll want to avoid the flimsy, loosely knit, baggy variety. A discerning eye and some patience should land you something good. 

Cool-Wearing Shirt Fabrics for Summer
Warmer temperatures call for open weave shirtings - those lightweight, airy fabrics that allow your skin to breathe and body heat escape. My favorite summer shirting is linen. It’s so gauzy and open that it allows you to feel every gentle breeze passing through, but it’s also quite prone to wrinkling. Personally, I find a lot of charm in that, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. Additionally, depending on the quality of the linen, you may find that new linen can feel a bit rough. You can trust, however, that it will soften considerably over time.
In addition to pure linen, there are all of its variations. Linen-cotton blends, for example, will give you some of the benefits of linen but look less messy. I also recently came across a pure cotton that’s woven to feel and look just like linen. You can find any of these - pure linen, linen-cotton blends, and pure cotton woven to feel like linen - from a variety of makers. Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, and Howard Yount are good starts. Brooks’ shirts are better in their slim to extra-slim fit cuts, depending on your size. For more affordable options, you can check Uniqlo (which you can shop at through Suddenlee) and TM Lewin. For higher-end models, browse the stock at Ledbury, Mr. Porter, and Barney’s. The latter two are holding sales right now, which means you can get particularly nice ones at a more affordable price. 
I’m also a fan of pure-cotton oxford cloth (the stuff used to make OCBDs), but not everyone thinks they’re well suited for summer. For example, Michael Anton, author of The Suit, has written that he thinks they’re too warm for high temperatures. On the other hand, Alex Kabbaz, arguably the best custom shirtmaker in America, has recommended them. Personally, I find that my OCDBs wear cooler than many of my other dress shirts, but you should try wearing some for yourself and seeing how you fare.   
For those who have shirts custom-made, I also recommend cotton-batiste, cotton voile, and chambray. The first two are rather popular in Southern Italy, where the weather can get quite warm, but they have the problem of often being too translucent. Fortunately, A Suitable Wardrobe has some cotton voile shirting that’s very wearable, as well as a very nice, fine chambray. I would heartily recommend either of those if you can afford them. If you’d like to find other sources, check with your shirtmaker. He or she should have some from a variety of makers such as Thomas Mason.
And last, but not least, there’s madras, which we’ve already talked about here.
Of course, being that the world of shirting is wide and varied, it’s best for you to always check for yourself whether a particular fabric is good for hot weather. One trick you can employ is holding the cloth up to the light. If the fabric is lightweight and you see a lot of light passing through, it’s more than likely perfect for summer. 
(Pictured above: Bolts of fine chambray shirting at A Suitable Wardrobe. Photo taken from StyleForum.)

Cool-Wearing Shirt Fabrics for Summer

Warmer temperatures call for open weave shirtings - those lightweight, airy fabrics that allow your skin to breathe and body heat escape. My favorite summer shirting is linen. It’s so gauzy and open that it allows you to feel every gentle breeze passing through, but it’s also quite prone to wrinkling. Personally, I find a lot of charm in that, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. Additionally, depending on the quality of the linen, you may find that new linen can feel a bit rough. You can trust, however, that it will soften considerably over time.

In addition to pure linen, there are all of its variations. Linen-cotton blends, for example, will give you some of the benefits of linen but look less messy. I also recently came across a pure cotton that’s woven to feel and look just like linen. You can find any of these - pure linen, linen-cotton blends, and pure cotton woven to feel like linen - from a variety of makers. Brooks BrothersJ. Crew, and Howard Yount are good starts. Brooks’ shirts are better in their slim to extra-slim fit cuts, depending on your size. For more affordable options, you can check Uniqlo (which you can shop at through Suddenlee) and TM Lewin. For higher-end models, browse the stock at Ledbury, Mr. Porter, and Barney’s. The latter two are holding sales right now, which means you can get particularly nice ones at a more affordable price. 

I’m also a fan of pure-cotton oxford cloth (the stuff used to make OCBDs), but not everyone thinks they’re well suited for summer. For example, Michael Anton, author of The Suithas written that he thinks they’re too warm for high temperatures. On the other hand, Alex Kabbaz, arguably the best custom shirtmaker in America, has recommended them. Personally, I find that my OCDBs wear cooler than many of my other dress shirts, but you should try wearing some for yourself and seeing how you fare.   

For those who have shirts custom-made, I also recommend cotton-batiste, cotton voile, and chambray. The first two are rather popular in Southern Italy, where the weather can get quite warm, but they have the problem of often being too translucent. Fortunately, A Suitable Wardrobe has some cotton voile shirting that’s very wearable, as well as a very nice, fine chambray. I would heartily recommend either of those if you can afford them. If you’d like to find other sources, check with your shirtmaker. He or she should have some from a variety of makers such as Thomas Mason.

And last, but not least, there’s madras, which we’ve already talked about here.

Of course, being that the world of shirting is wide and varied, it’s best for you to always check for yourself whether a particular fabric is good for hot weather. One trick you can employ is holding the cloth up to the light. If the fabric is lightweight and you see a lot of light passing through, it’s more than likely perfect for summer. 

(Pictured above: Bolts of fine chambray shirting at A Suitable Wardrobe. Photo taken from StyleForum.)

Un-Lining A Jacket
A week or so ago, I picked up this jacket at a thrift store. It didn’t need too much adjustment to fit well, and it filled a hole in my wardrobe - a linen blazer. Since I live in Los Angeles, staying comfortable in the summer is a priority, and linen does the trick.
There was only one problem: the jacket was fully lined. Linen is cool and breathes well. The same cannot be said of the materials used to line coats, like bemberg, an early plant-based synthetic. Lining fabrics are designed to be slick and lightweight, but they’re not designed to be cool in warm weather. Lined linen is fine when the temperature’s 75 or 80, but I wanted a coat I could wear when it was 85 or 90, so I took the coat to my tailor for some alteration.
The lining in the shoulders and sleeves is functional. Without lining there, your coat can hang up on your shirt, causing rumpling, bumps and other unsightly malformations. It’s also functional in the chest, where it performs the same duties, and also covers up the structure of the chestpiece and pockets. There are totally unstructured coats that have almost none of this extra stuff in the chest, but this wasn’t one of them, so I wanted to retain that lining.
The one place where the lining isn’t functional at all is on the back. Manufacturers use lining there for a uniform look, and because it’s cheaper to line the back fully than to clean up the insides to look presentable. Luckily, I’d bought the coat for $25, and wasn’t averse to putting a bit more money into it to make it summer-friendly.
I had my tailor remove the lining along most of the back. This involved cutting away the lining, but also “taping” the now-visible seams. This keeps them from catching on the shirt and makes them look finished. He left a strap across the lower back to help the coat retain its shape, but that’s optional. The result was a coat with dramatically less lining that will keep me much cooler in the summer.
This isn’t just a great option for summer, either. Less lining in a jacket means you can wear heavier fabrics in warmer temperatures. Heavier fabrics almost always look and drape better than lighter, finer ones. Unless it’s winter and you’re trying to maximize warmth, a less-lined coat is more versatile and comfortable. That’s why jackets were rarely fully lined until mass manufacturing prevailed over traditional tailoring in the 60s.
My tailor charged me a bargain price for the service - $35. Since it’s not a frequent request, prices vary, but generally cutting out the back and taping the seams will run you somewhere around $50. When the mercury climbs here in LA, I’m sure I’ll be glad I spent the money.

Un-Lining A Jacket

A week or so ago, I picked up this jacket at a thrift store. It didn’t need too much adjustment to fit well, and it filled a hole in my wardrobe - a linen blazer. Since I live in Los Angeles, staying comfortable in the summer is a priority, and linen does the trick.

There was only one problem: the jacket was fully lined. Linen is cool and breathes well. The same cannot be said of the materials used to line coats, like bemberg, an early plant-based synthetic. Lining fabrics are designed to be slick and lightweight, but they’re not designed to be cool in warm weather. Lined linen is fine when the temperature’s 75 or 80, but I wanted a coat I could wear when it was 85 or 90, so I took the coat to my tailor for some alteration.

The lining in the shoulders and sleeves is functional. Without lining there, your coat can hang up on your shirt, causing rumpling, bumps and other unsightly malformations. It’s also functional in the chest, where it performs the same duties, and also covers up the structure of the chestpiece and pockets. There are totally unstructured coats that have almost none of this extra stuff in the chest, but this wasn’t one of them, so I wanted to retain that lining.

The one place where the lining isn’t functional at all is on the back. Manufacturers use lining there for a uniform look, and because it’s cheaper to line the back fully than to clean up the insides to look presentable. Luckily, I’d bought the coat for $25, and wasn’t averse to putting a bit more money into it to make it summer-friendly.

I had my tailor remove the lining along most of the back. This involved cutting away the lining, but also “taping” the now-visible seams. This keeps them from catching on the shirt and makes them look finished. He left a strap across the lower back to help the coat retain its shape, but that’s optional. The result was a coat with dramatically less lining that will keep me much cooler in the summer.

This isn’t just a great option for summer, either. Less lining in a jacket means you can wear heavier fabrics in warmer temperatures. Heavier fabrics almost always look and drape better than lighter, finer ones. Unless it’s winter and you’re trying to maximize warmth, a less-lined coat is more versatile and comfortable. That’s why jackets were rarely fully lined until mass manufacturing prevailed over traditional tailoring in the 60s.

My tailor charged me a bargain price for the service - $35. Since it’s not a frequent request, prices vary, but generally cutting out the back and taping the seams will run you somewhere around $50. When the mercury climbs here in LA, I’m sure I’ll be glad I spent the money.

For $50, You Can Buy …
This J Crew Irish linen shirt. Some people hate how linen holds wrinkles, but I personally love it. Linen has a life to it and looks best when its a bit crumpled - the texture gives the fabric a kind of “lived in” elegance. As long as your linen shirt fits well, these crumples will give you an insouciant look without making you look messy. 
And J Crew’s version fits fairly well. It’s slimmer than most models out there, and comes in extra-small for overly skinny guys like me. The only quip I have is that all of J Crew’s shirts have small collars. I prefer my collar points to be about 8.25cm long and the back of my collar to be about 5cm high. J Crews are much shorter, by about 1 to 1.5cm. As such, it lacks the panache that, say, a Guy Rover linen shirt will have. The Guy Rover is what I’d really like to recommend to you, but this series isn’t called “For $70 You Can Buy,” so if you really only have $50 to spend, I recommend J Crew’s. Plus, if you spend over $150 on J Crew’s final sale items right now, and use MUSTSHOP as your coupon code, you’ll get 30% off plus free shipping. That brings this puppy down to $35. Not too shabby if you’re on a tight budget. 
Note that when you first get your linen shirt, it will feel rough to the touch. However, linen softens quite a bit over time, and before long, you’ll have one of your most comfortable shirts ever. Just remember to never bleach your linens, as the harsh chemical will destroy the fibers. 

For $50, You Can Buy …

This J Crew Irish linen shirt. Some people hate how linen holds wrinkles, but I personally love it. Linen has a life to it and looks best when its a bit crumpled - the texture gives the fabric a kind of “lived in” elegance. As long as your linen shirt fits well, these crumples will give you an insouciant look without making you look messy. 

And J Crew’s version fits fairly well. It’s slimmer than most models out there, and comes in extra-small for overly skinny guys like me. The only quip I have is that all of J Crew’s shirts have small collars. I prefer my collar points to be about 8.25cm long and the back of my collar to be about 5cm high. J Crews are much shorter, by about 1 to 1.5cm. As such, it lacks the panache that, say, a Guy Rover linen shirt will have. The Guy Rover is what I’d really like to recommend to you, but this series isn’t called “For $70 You Can Buy,” so if you really only have $50 to spend, I recommend J Crew’s. Plus, if you spend over $150 on J Crew’s final sale items right now, and use MUSTSHOP as your coupon code, you’ll get 30% off plus free shipping. That brings this puppy down to $35. Not too shabby if you’re on a tight budget. 

Note that when you first get your linen shirt, it will feel rough to the touch. However, linen softens quite a bit over time, and before long, you’ll have one of your most comfortable shirts ever. Just remember to never bleach your linens, as the harsh chemical will destroy the fibers. 

The Necktie Series, Part IV: Expanding your collection 

Yesterday, I talked about the bare bones of a minimal tie collection. Today, I’ll talk about how to expand from there. 

Knit ties

I considered putting knit ties in yesterday’s post, as they’re a strong enough staple. However, today’s post is about ties for specific functions, while yesterday’s are more all-purpose. In that sense, knit ties belong here, as they serve the function of being a casual necktie. It just so happens that men are so commonly in casual situations that a knit is probably going to be one of your more used pieces. 

There are essentially three different types of knits: softer silks, crunchy silks, and wool. What you choose is purely a matter of preference. Any of these will help you play to the middle of the casual to formal spectrum and, like grenadines, help add some texture to your wardrobe.  

Prince of Wales, Shepard’s checks, or houndstooths

Next, you will need a tie for formal events that aren’t black tie (which nobody properly throws nowadays anyway). If the dots on your pin dot tie are sufficiently small enough, it will be fine for formal function. Otherwise, you need some kind of checked tie. I recommend a Prince of Wales check (also known as a glen plaid), Shepard’s check, or houndstooth. These will work well for things such as weddings. Get them in an elegant color combination, drawn from colors such as black, gray, white, navy, and cream.

Seasonal ties: wool and linen

I’m a big fan of dressing to seasons. Heavy cashmere trousers with boots during the fall and winter seasons; tropical wool trousers with loafers in the spring and summer. As such, I strongly believe that you should have some seasonal ties. Wool ties for fall and winter, and linen ties for the spring and summer. Like everything else you’ve seen thus far, start with discrete patterns such as slight checks and stripes. 

Ancient madders

I used to think ancient madders were for old men, but I’ve since gotten some sense. When done well, they are the mark of a man who knows how to truly dress well - beyond just getting solid colored ties with textures. 

Ancient madders have paisley or geometric designs, and typically come in dusty colors such as mustard yellow, matte jade green, and faded indigo blue. These patterns are printed on a special gum-twill silk, which, when combined with the madder dye, have a chalk hand (soft but powdery feeling). I find that they’re somewhat seasonal, like the linen and wool ties, and mainly feel right in the fall. It’s not as versatile as some of the other ties I’ve talked about, but when it feels right, it feels really right. 

As for where to get these ties, my recommendations are the same from last time, so check my last installment.

I talked yesterday about some lesser known summer fabrics, but let’s get back to basics for a moment. You know what makes summer truly great? Linen shirts. 

Seriously, I love linen shirts, and I’m always surprised by how few men wear them. Their gauzy, wrinkly nature adds a really nice texture and can give you a much more interesting casual look. Linen is also great for hot days. It has an airy, open weave that allows your skin to breathe and feel much cooler than it would under, say, oxford cloth. Additionally, since all their charm is in how they wrinkle, you don’t have to iron them. 

The classic linen shirt is the white collared button up. However, since you can’t bleach linen (as the harsh chemical really destroys the fibers), keeping a white linen shirt white can be a bit hard depending on your habits. White linen can also be very bright; if you’re a bit pale, it can visually wash you out. Thus, if you don’t think you can manage a white linen shirt, I’ve rounded up some other options for you. 

For simple basics, check out Brooks Brothers’ linen shirts. These come in a variety of interesting colors, my favorite of which is their light blue. They also have a dark blue version, which can look great with khaki chinos. J Crew has a similar dark blue model, and it fits slightly slimmer than Brooks Brothers. They also have the same shirt in bengal stripe and gingham. The fabric on J Crew’s is a bit heavier than some of the others I’m featuring here, which means the creasing that you’ll get isn’t as sharp. I prefer this, personally, as I think it makes the shirt look more rumpled than creased, but it’s a matter of taste. 

For something a slightly more than your basics, check out Our Legacy. They have a slightly worn looking striped linen shirt that has a bit of old world Western European feel to it. Boden also has some interesting plaids and stripes, as well a linen “grandad” shirt, which is basically a kind of linen henley. It’s a bit more unique looking, but I think would still make for a great casual piece this summer. 

Lastly, a word about marketing. As you shop for linen shirts, you may notice some brands, such as J Crew, heavily market theirs as being “Irish linen.” Now, linen is to Ireland what cashmere is to Scotland, but this doesn’t mean that linens from other countries aren’t as good. Plus, being labeled Irish linen just means the fabric was woven in Ireland; the material doesn’t necessarily have to be milled there. The term is mostly a marketing ploy, so you should be wary. In the end, the most important thing is for you to see how the linen wrinkles, and whether you’re comfortable with the fabric.

If you’re on the fence about wearing a “wrinkled shirt,” I recommend just going into a store and trying one on. You may find you actually like it, and after getting used it all summer, you’ll lament the coming of the fall season, when you have to go back to your poplins and oxfords.