The ancient Romans knew what they were doing when they chose linen as their go-to textile to stay cool in the warm Mediterranean summers. Woven from fibres of the flax plant, linen is a hardy fabric that does not cling onto skin, conducts heat well, and has high air and moisture permeability—keeping the wearer cool and dry.
While it tends to bring to mind shapeless tunics in varying shades of beige, we have scoured the web for the looks you never knew humble old linen was capable of. From wardrobe staples in modern cuts to loud, printed dresses, here are our picks to help you stay in style this summer without breaking a sweat.
P.S. We say summer, but really, Singapore’s relentless muggy weather means you will get plenty of wear season after season out of every piece here.
Its association with hot, sunny days gives linen the unfair rep of being too casual for work, but this A-line midi skirt from Zara dispels those misconceptions. Its magic lies in its duality. For the office, wear with a linen shirt and chunky brass jewellery; on weekends, dress down with a relaxed cotton tank and sandals.
The American retailer’s notched lapel shirt comes in a chic, modern boxy cut, and pairs well with skirts, jeans, or denim shorts. Its short-but-not-too-short length also means it looks equally good tucked in or out.
In a soft seafoam green, with mini polka dots and ribbon-tied straps, this midi number from Mango is the personification of Spring and it couldn’t be further from ‘frumpy’. Turn it beachside holiday-ready with delicate demi-fine jewellery, a straw bag, and strappy sandals.
If Parisian It-girl Jeanne Damas could see this, we are sure she’d also approve of this blouse’s vintage vibes, with its subtle puff sleeves and playful peplum details. Try it with Damas’ signature red lips and minimal makeup for an easy French girl cool look.
Stocked at new local online multi-label store Urban Gypsy, this wrap top from Aussie brand Rowie The Label has both a twist and a tie-front detail for a subtle peekaboo, along with a large oblong cut out at the back. What a way to elevate the simple white top. Loose linen pants complete the boho look or try it with jeans or a midi flared skirt.
Business in front, party at the back: Topshop’s stripey linen-blend jumpsuit features a high neck and a surprise low back twist behind. Great for both the office and for weekend brunches — just keep a blazer handy for the former.
Linen clothing is usually made breezy and loose-fitting, but we can count on The Reformation to do things a little differently. The sustainable US label’s linen dress is a figure-flattering, slim-fit mini with a wrap bottom and adjustable straps, complete with a straight neckline. Keep accessories to the minimum when you wear this—its prints have already done half the job for you.
From its Spring ’19 collection, Mansur Gavriel steals inspiration from the ’90s for this easy-to-wear slip dress with cheery embroidered daisies. Tone down the girliness with another resurrection from the same era—trendy, chunky dad sneakers.
This toga-style dress features Cult Gaia’s custom print designed in collaboration with Brazilian artist Lake Marinho. Its feminine silhouette and romantic, painterly prints make it an ideal office and date night go-to. It has resort vibes too, so don’t forget to pack it for your next beach vaycay.
Cult Gaia’s Insta-friendly, luxury-boho aesthetic is in its full glory here — in a good way. This off-the-shoulder dress features gathered pouf sleeves, brass buttons, and textured linen-blend fabric for the perfect resort look. The brand paired it with a trendy beaded bag, but we think it goes with anything from a leather box bag to a straw bag, too.
Text: Rachel Tan