How to wear... cool linen
With temperatures hotting up again, you'll need a breathable fabric to stay chilled, writes Meadhbh McGrath
Linen is a summer staple, but it hasn't been a particularly stylish one for many years. The breathable fabric is known mostly as a popular choice for home furnishings and a retro hippie favourite.
Yet designers are finally presenting contemporary designs that go beyond the standard shell tops, floaty kaftans and wrinkle-ready trousers of typical holidaywear.
So why is linen making a comeback now? On one hand, it can be seen as a response to the flashy maximalism that has taken over the fashion world, thanks to the likes of influential brands like Gucci. The raw fabric offers a wardrobe refresh amidst all the clashing prints, eccentric embellishments and bling.
It's also an ethically produced, natural fibre, which means it's more environmentally-friendly - something designers are increasingly conscious of with the drive towards sustainability.
On the summer catwalks, linen arrived in the form of handkerchief hem skirts at Jonathan Anders, soft tailoring and ruffles at Isabel Marant, draped shirts at Michael Kors, and asymmetric shapes and shirt dresses at Jacquemus.
The once-fusty fabric looked relaxed and sexy, and thanks to the linen-cotton blend that high street stores like Marks & Spencer use, you're likely to see less of the creasing and crumpling for which linen is notorious. While many of the pieces will look best strolling around barefoot on a sandy beach somewhere, there are also options that will work beautifully for a jaunt around town or even the office.
Victoria Beckham shows how a linen midi dress can be smartened up with a pair of courts, while Sienna Miller does off-duty cool in a linen trench, jumpsuit and cross body bag.
For work, Oasis's pastel blue shorts suit taps into this season's shorts trend while looking sharp enough for the office, or try Topshop's beige trouser suit with leather mules.
You don't even need to splurge on new pieces - years-old dresses and shirts can still look crisp and fresh today.
However, take care when unpacking them, as the linen fibres have such a low elasticity that they can break when garments are folded along the same lines for years.