It can be frustrating, but retail collections are often out of sync with our actual seasons. I’m browsing though page after page of warm weather clothing…while wearing a cashmere pullover. But if I wait until I actually need or can wear a particular item, often the selection has dwindled while retail is off chasing the next Shiny New Season.
So I’ve learned to shop (and buy) ahead of season. Right now, I’m thinking about our trip in late June and early July to France and England. We’ve experienced both very warm and very chilly conditions on prior visits during those months. Chilly, I’m prepared for, and have plenty of choices to pack. But my warm weather travel-friendly pieces could use a refresh.
Linen Clothes For Travel
Above: a linen shirtdress can be worn two ways, either as a dress or open as a lightweight duster.
Linen for travel? Yes, absolutely! It’s cool, lightweight, dries more quickly than cotton, and is surprisingly insulating for navigating between outdoor heat and indoor air-conditioning. “But the wrinkles!!!” Yes, it does show creases more than many fabrics. Personally, a rumpled linen piece doesn’t bother me. It’s the nature of the fabric. You can also “broomstick” many linen pieces, to create a more intentional creased look.
A relaxed linen button front shirt like this one can do double-duty in a travel wardrobe. Wear buttoned on its own, or open as a lightweight jacket alternative. I almost always pack one in white for warm weather travel. If white isn’t your preference, several other colors offered in Misses, Petites, Plus and Tall sizes.
If wrinkles make woven linen a non-starter, look for linen jersey knits, like the shirt above. (Plus). A button-front shirt looks a little more polished than most tees IMO, and you can turn up the collar to keep sun off your neck.
OK, you know this tee caught my eye! This linen tee has a casual vibe and the leopard print takes it to the next level.
A linen sweater or cardigan can be another good option for summer travel, just enough when it cools down in the evening. I love the soft pink color of this cardigan.
Here’s a more budget-friendly option in a linen/rayon blend. This style is offered in Misses, Petites, Plus, and Tall sizes, and in several other colors.
I’ve been hoping to replace an older navy striped linen pullover for years now. This one looks just about perfect!
I’m a little less enthusiastic about linen bottoms, as I find many of the relaxed pant styles offered are a bit too “beachy” for me. (Though if your travel plans include a beach or resort destination…go for it!) But a slim, jeans-style linen-blend pant…I might be persuaded. (Similar in Plus.)
If skirts are your preference, this classic knee-length skirt gets good reviews, and won’t restrict movement.
Do you include linen pieces in your travel wardrobes?
Count me in as part of the “I love linen” camp. I am currently in Belgium (Ghent) and am really tempted by a few things (okay- many things) but am determined to maintain my carry on only status…..maybe a scarf will satisfy the urge.
BTW, for others like myself on a smaller budget, I found Uniqlo offers some nicely priced linen shirts….
Suz from Vancouver
I’m enjoying this post, as I love linen tees – and other linen – in hot weather.
I purchased those NYDJ linen “jeans” in a previous year, in black, and I like them, but I did end up ordering two full sizes less than my usual size, so one size less than my usual NYDJ size.
You seem to have neglected the catalog company Garnet Hill which sells a very large selection of linen (as well as a special to them line of Eileen Fisher).
This is definitely a timely topic. I am going on my first trip to France at the same time – the end of June and the first week of July and I’m trying to select the appropriate clothing to take. Everyone raves about linen – but I don’t want to look rumpled and I’ve discovered that linen blends seem to look better – longer.
I do like linen for travel also! While I pack mainly knits because of the wrinkle factor, I do like Chico’s no iron linen blouses. They run longer so can be a casual open jacket when left unbuttoned.
If traveling the in the US, I never hesitate to pack linen for my tops, because I can depend on an ironing board in most locations. But in Europe? I have never had a hotel with ironing boards and irons in the room.
I have a couple of EF linen knits and I love them. They wear well and are perfect for “shoulder season” traveling.
I do like linen for travel in warm weather, and there is definitely a need to get a mindset that accepts that there will be wrinkling with this wonderfaul natural fiber. I find traveling with a small spritzer bottle allows me to freshen up ly linen, smoothing out the biggest wrinkles and letting them air dry. I also find that the broom sticking method for tops is great.
Got those uncertain about the wrinkle factor, you can do some dress rehearsals before travel and see what you think.
I will be in Paris late May and June and plan to take a linen blend dress and a linen cotton sweater/sort of coatigan (among other things), but watching the weather in case I need to throw in some warmer items.
That’s a good idea. Weather in Paris can be all over the map that time of year. Think lightweight layers, and bring at least one warm sweater. 😉
I was in the Bergerac region quite a few years ago in early July and it was quite chilly (50s-60s) and then we got to Paris and it warmed up a bit (70s), so be prepared.
As soon as I read this title in my inbox I knew exactly what you meant! Ugh I adore linen for travel but the creases do my head in!
Although I believe the linen mix these days is a great compromise. Thanks for the suggestions Susan, I particularly love the shirt dress. In fact I have my eye on the new maxi shirt dress in Robin Wright’s clothing label, Pour Le Femmes. Mind you it’s a tad over budget but an investment worth saving for I think.
I am in the middle of finalizing my packing for a five week trip to Italy, mid May through mid June and linen is my go to fabric. In fact the majority of my pieces will be in linen. I hear the concern over wrinkles but I accept them as part of the beauty of this natural fibre and I have yet to find anything else so comfortable to wear. I make the majority of my clothes so have the ability to “prep” my fabric prior to construction so I am very easy with putting all my pieces in the washer and dryer. For those that are interested in ethically produced linen check out Not Perfect Linen online, some lovely pieces and wonderful colour selection.
Thanks Susan for all the travel and packing tips, so much helpful information as I attempt to stay in my 45 litre bag for this trip! Many thanks and love your style.
Talbots also is offering some slim linen ankle length pants online-only, which I’ve ordered in black, navy and a neutral “linen” (beige). They fit well imo. I love linen but hate the usual floppy wide legged pants everyone seems to offer (and don’t get me started on drawstring waists!).
Another vote for Garnet Hill, too. They offer a classic sleeveless button-front, collared dress that I now own in 3 colors- really a classic look & so easy to style with sandals & a fun necklace. It runs big should anyone want to order, but is very reasonably priced.
JJill always offers a range of lightweight linen shirts among other linen items too. I find their linen pretty thin but good as a shirt over a tank.
I love your links, Susan, but they’re often too spendy for my budget – I love today’s leopard shirt but can’t face nearly $200 for a tee shirt! I do appreciate your readers’ suggestions for brands new to me, as well as yours’. Love your blog!
I love linen! Its been worn for generations here in the south. I do love the beachy pants and think they are very flattering. My husband loves his linen shirts too. Linen is not something everyone is going to love and not everyone can accept the natural wrinkles. But the fabric is what it is!
Loft has a 100% linen leopard print tshirt in (plus sizes only) On sale right now and only $40 to begin with!
Thanks for the tip, I’m adding to the post!
Susan, for you and your readers who are going soon to France/Paris, although it would be great if the Gilets Jaunes protests/riots have petered out by your visit, be prepared. I am in Paris right now which just experienced its 24th consecutive Saturday of troubles. It is usually announced Friday evening, usually three locations but sometimes there are surprises. If it’s still going on, be sure to check so you dont find yourself in the midst of one!
Thank you Carol for the reminder.
Susan, just love your style. I’m trying to put a handle on it, but it’s everything built into one. Classic but not boring. I always love your choice of fabrics and your accessories are always spot on. I get quite a bit of inspiration from you. I have lived many places in the usa as well as overseas and your style is fabulous and would fit in all places.
Please continue your style advice…it’s very much appreciated.
Thanks very much, Judy!
I, too, love Garnet Hill. Recently I discovered Poetry, based in England, which has all linen and linen blend clothing. I purchased pants and a blazer that are chic, comfortable and well constructed.
I have always loved linen. Growing up in So Cal it was almost a 3 season with layers if needed. Believe it or not Montana gets very hot in summer so I still wear it, although only one season. Linen takes dyes so well , the colors are so rich and vibrant. Now there are some beautiful prints available too.
Not only do I love your timeless stylish look , your followers are so informative and have great comments. All your choices are so helpful with different price points but always gives “the look”. I was happy to see someone else making her own clothes too. It’s nice to have the options of buying and making ones own clothes.
Love linen. I wish it was considered appropriate to wear all year long. For those in the northeast mid-west, I would like to know if you wear linen as late as October?
The other think is, Susan, I know the blog’s focus is France, but I would also like to see more of your haunts in England, especially London, and do you feel there is so much of a style difference in London vs. Paris so as to bring different outfits or wear what you have differently?
In Washington DC linen can sometimes be pretty much a 3-season item, especially the heavier weight items. It really just depends on the year, but if the weather warrants then we tend to keep wearing our linen.
I have always loved linen and wear it through much of the summer. My theory remains that, as long as it started out pressed and the wrinkles come in natural places, it only enhances the look. (What you don’t want is for it to look like the entire garment was rolled up into a ball before wearing.) It seems harder and harder to find decent quality linen pieces that don’t break the bank, however. When I was in my 20s there was a brand that I just loved, whose name now escapes me (something like “Infiniti”), but I bought several separates that could be mixed and matched or worn as a suit. (I even graduated in my black jacket and complementary skirt!). It’s been decades since I’ve see their stuff, so they must have gone out of business. I’ve been trying to match that quality for years. Twenty years ago, J. Jill ago offered some high-quality stuff; their current stuff is a pale imitation. In researching the subject last year, I kept comping across a company called Flax that linen lovers were raving about. I haven’t ordered anything yet, but the next time I order linen, it will likely come from them. Curious if you’re familiar with them, Susan: http://www.flaxdesigns.com
I love several of the items you’ve featured here, especially the Banana Republic striped crops and the striped v-neck sweater. Can’t wait to see you model them. 🙂
Finity – yes I remember it fondly!
FINITY! Yes, thank you. Have been trying for YEARS to remember the name. 🙂
Flax designs—I have literally circled the globe in these linen pieces for almost 40 years. Recently, my 21 year old daughter raided my storage closet and nabbed some pieces that she now raves about. Comfort is an enduring style value!
Thank you! You’ve confirmed everything I’ve read about them. 🙂
Thanks for the info. Last year bought a few linens from JJill and am very happy with them. Wash easily and iron/steam beautifully.
Linen knits are the staple of my summer traveling wardrobe. A tank is good for a really hot day, but it can be a layer of warmth when layered under another shirt and then a sweater. These knits layer beautifully.
As already mentioned, it’s not necessary to iron linen. Simply spray mist garment or sprinkle water with your hands if traveling. Then lay garment flat and smooth out wrinkles with the palms of your hands. Gives a softer, more casual finish. The colours are so yummy.
I also love linen but never iron it. As others have said I simply smooth out with my hands and air dry pieces. I think ironing makes the wrinkles stand out more.
Chico’s has no iron linen shirts and pants. I haven’t tried the pants, but I own 4 of their no iron linen shirts, and they are truly no iron. Wash with downy fabric softener and then throw them in the dryer. Remove promptly when done and they are wrinkly free!
I recently did a cruise to Cuba. As I live in TX, I have a lot of linen items; I brought linen (beachy) pants, a couple of linen tops, and three linen casual dresses, some knit, some woven. Since we were on a cruise, I brought my travel steamer & steamed out all the major wrinkles the first day. Then since we didn’t have to re-pack & move from place to place, my stuff was all in pretty good shape.
This post and all of the comments have inspired me to rethink what I take on my next trip. I have been steering away from linen for travel because of the wrinkles. I live in Washington, DC and you know I need and wear linen in the summer! I’m traveling to Paris and Eastern Europe for the last two weeks of June. I’ve been concerned that if we have warm weather, I won’t have clothes that work. I was planning to take ponte pants and jeans, but they is not good in heat. I love the suggestion of taking a little bottle to spritz the garments! Really anything in linen is a good investment for me because it is very hot and humid in the summers here! Love all your suggestions!
So glad you have included JJill. I have many of their linen pieces and have found them easy to care for and they iron beautifully. Even a steamer makes them look wonderful…they do not wrinkle easily. As much as I enjoy your site, my budget just cannot handle $200+ for a top or a pair of pants, etc. I do buy beautiful clothes but am a careful and sale shopper. Thanks for listening.