In Praise of Linen and Terrycloth

Seeking Cool

The goal for any summer outfit is to keep you cool in terms of both temperature and looks, with equal importance.
Whether you’re struck in the city or you've managed to escape to some foreign locale, summer is the chance to play around with color and texture through a range of lightweight materials that are intended to regulate your body temperature. There are plenty of options available this season but, the two staples I reach for year after year are terry cloth and linen. Nothing against lightweight cotton and seersucker, but these are unique for having  textured and relaxed outward appearances that are appealing this time of year.
Terrycloth and linen outfit 1
 

Meet my Friend Terry

Most are familiar with terry cloth as the stuff your bath towels are made from. In the 50’s and 60’s however, it was popular as vacation wear for the beach or lounging by the pool.

Plush and fluffy on the outside, smooth on the inside, it is deceptively lightweight and well regarded for it’s strong moisture wicking properties. Great for throwing on after you step out of the water or when you’re sweating buckets. Usually cut in the form of tees and polos - Goldfinger fans can even find a one piece romper made of the stuff - there's no shortage of towelling, with the material making a sudden resurgence in popularity.

Japanese maker Camoshita reliably comes through with a take on the towelling polo with a “skipper” style made from a mix of cotton, linen and ramie that whilst lightweight and soft has a robust handle to it. Ever so slightly oversized, it’s an indulgently cozy piece to pull on and would look right at home with a pair of linen trousers. For those that aren't big on polo shirts, Doppiaa have got them covered with a short sleeved towelling shirt with a camp collar in a very relaxed fit. A shirt like this could easily be lived in throughout the entire summer with a pair of woven easy pants and some mules.

 

Terrycloth and linen outfit 2
 
 

From Belgium with Love

Linen, however, reigns supreme in my summer wardrobe.

One of the true great joys of the season, I love the light slubby weave and the organic imperfect look - the wrinkles and creases being part of its natural charm - that suggests the wearer belongs anywhere but the middle of a busy metropolis. Thus, a summer staple in my wardrobe is De Bonne Facture two pleat linen trousers, something I’m always excited to slip on even while at home. Inspired by old photographs of 20th century studio artists at both work and ease, they are made of an organic Belgian linen and have a loose elegance to them which proudly showcases the natural breathability and smooth texture of the material.

 

Terrycloth and linen outfit 3
 

Another strong option would be the linen sweaters from Inis Meain - the Irish brand distinguished for its strong dedication to a historical knitting tradition. They’ve come to be truly reliable and unique pieces year in and year out, but this time it’s the black linen henley they’ve made this season that is an undisputed knockout. Something like this is a real pleasure to wear - draping easily across the body and it feels like wearing nothing at all. With a few buttons undone it sits softly on the chest (a shot of sex appeal is never a bad thing) and it would work well with a pair of olive green fatigues or ghurka shorts. Though as someone who is a fan of wearing all black outfits throughout the year, the drawstring linen and cotton pants from Monitaly would make for a very breezy and easy going fit that Johnny Cash would be proud of.

Dressing for summer in the city isn't easy, but these fabrics should allow the cool air to gently blow through you while on the Highline sipping mojito out of a can.

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