Linen shirts that have the power to multitask
We know the classic button-down linen shirt belongs to summer. But of late it has been undergoing a makeover with constructional add-ons like collar and cuff variations, androgynous cuts and traditional-but-subtle surface ornamentation, even fabric blends. Experts say this updated version can multitask when styled minimally with a pair of structured trousers, lightweight denims or chinos. You can wear it in summer, during the monsoon, on a weekday in a relaxed office set-up, on a Friday in a formal work space, or on an outdoor workday.
According to Delhi-based Suket Dhir, common linen fabric (made from the stalk of the flax plant Linum usitatissimum) wrinkles, but is classy and works well for semi-formal occasions. If you want a formal feel, invest in a high-quality linen-blend, basic-cut shirt. Dhir, who is into relaxed couture, or high-end clothing, with minimal cuts crafted out of natural fabrics, says, “Linen, when blended with silk or wool (like merino), can be worn throughout the year in a formal way thanks to its fall. This means you could experiment with fabric blends instead of cuts.”
A classic white linen style never goes wrong. But when you vary its length, it becomes another story, says Ujjawal Dubey, whose label Antar-Agni is known for its fabric explorations, smart cuts and relaxed silhouettes. “A collarless, semi-casual (white) shirt with variation in length is perfect for daywear (to work). A dark colour in the same shape can be worn to semi-formal get-togethers.”
This is an androgynous (unisex) shape that can be styled up or down as required, says Delhi-based designer Anuj Bhutani. “The versatile boyfriend shirt can be worn as a layer, paired with high-waist linen trousers, or on its own as a shirt-dress (and a simple shirt for men),” he adds. Slip into it for an informal work meeting or a post-work drink with colleagues.
Investing in a linen shirt with tonal or discreet detailing (self-on-self prints, traditional weave patches or piping) in places like the under-placket, collars or cuffs makes a lot of difference, says Delhi-based Satvika Suri, co-founder of men’s contemporary-cum-heritage shirts brand Andamen. Suri, who co-owns the brand with partner Siddharth Suri, says: “You can choose when you want to show these (details). This shirt can be worn with a closed placket (and cuffs down) for office or opened (with the cuffs rolled up) for a fashionable evening. You can layer it with a sports coat when required.” It pairs well with well-fitted denims or dark-coloured, structured chinos, and brown oxfords or moccasins, in relaxed office spaces.
Mumbai’s Kiran Bajaj and Jaya Redkar, co-founders of The Linen Way, a women’s apparel and accessories brand, suggest trying collar variations in shirts. Their first pick: the Peter Pan-collared, full-sleeved slim-fit shirt that you can wear tucked in with solid-coloured pants for a formal look. Second, an asymmetric panel, half-sleeved shirt with a mandarin collar, worn with structured trousers, dark denims or high-waist skirt. “Complete the look with subtle jewellery and a pair of ballerinas or peep-toes,” says Redkar.