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The Fabric Series, Pt. IV: Linen

May of 2013 really went out with a bang this year. We were having some really pleasant, mild spring weather before 90-plus-degree heat and suffocating humidity swooped in. The entire summer surely won’t be so hot all the time, but there will be plenty of days when we show up to work a bit sweatier than we (or our co-workers) would prefer.

What do you do about this? Welcome to part four of the Henry A. Davidsen fabric series, in which we discuss linen.


Linen is one of the most recognizable fabrics for men’s tailored clothing. Even guys who never wear suits and have no reason to know much of anything about them know that people wear linen suits. This is for good reason too: linen suits are incredibly popular in the summertime, especially for more relaxed occasions like outdoor weddings and garden parties.

Biologically, linen is unlike wool in that it comes from something called flax, which is a plant, not an animal (this also makes it vegan-friendly). It’s quite labor-intensive to manufacture but breathes very well and keeps the wearer cooler and fresher in warm weather. Beware, however, as linen wrinkles very easily. This is part of its charm and what gives linen suits a more casual feel, so if you’re not into looking a bit wrinkly, avoid having suits made in this fabric. You won’t miss out entirely, though, because linen is used for other garments, such as ties and pocket squares. Even some of the (totally sweet) Edward Armah pocket circles we carry are made from linen:

Pocket square slenestion made of linen in Philadelphia showroom

At Henry A. Davidsen, we carry mostly Italian and Irish linen fabrics in many different styles, colors, and weights from various mills. Many linen fabrications will be mixed with worsted wool, mohair, or silk to give it a different texture, drape, or level of formality. Wool will give linen a dressier, more business-appropriate appearance, mohair will help it resist wrinkling, and silk will lend a soft, shiny appeal to the textile.


While we don’t recommend a linen suit for a guy who’s still working on his capsule wardrobe (linen is a good fifth or sixth suit to own for the man who wears a suit on a regular basis), they’re great for casual summertime weddings, especially in lighter colors. In darker colors, they can fly in the office on a hot day or look dressy enough for a night out. No matter why you’re wearing one, be sure to get it custom or made-to-measure so that it fits impeccably. Fit, unlike fabric, doesn’t have off-seasons.

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