If sequins are the uniform of disco and denim the ultimate urban staple, linen surely rules the summer soiree space. After all, nothing says laid-back luxe garden party or champagne-fuelled polo than a crisp white linen outfit.
The rough-textured natural fabric with Miami-chic connotations is has made a fashion comeback, thanks largely to the luxe-boho trend that celebrates all things loose, natural and ladylike.
Still, beyond the aesthetic, there are plenty of practical reasons linen is top of the pops again. Thanks to the loose weave, it keeps you much cooler than almost all other fabrics, making it ideal for covering up in summer sans body sunscreen without sweltering side effects. It doesn’t cling like cotton does and wicks moisture better than most tech fabrics too. Look after it and your favourite linen pieces will last you years.
Then there’s the exotic romance factor. Picture steamy nights 100 years ago at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, or 1970s garden parties in the Hamptons for off-duty Hollywood stars and you’ll feel a little of the linen allure of years gone by.
The downside? It wrinkles like a shar pei puppy if you’re not careful. And while that dishevelled natural look is so-hot-right-now (in a fashion sense, not the literal mercury one), it’s not necessarily how you want to be photographed by papparazi on the Portsea Polo white carpet.
Here are GRAZIA’s tips for the best ways to keep your favourite linen pieces looking chic (for as long as possible post leaving the house, anyway).
TIPS FOR TREATING YOUR LINEN WITH TLC
WASH WISELY Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to dry clean your linen (unless you’re a guy and it’s a suit – in that case, seek professional help). Either hand-washing in cold water and mild detergent, or machine cleaning on a cycle that has a long soak, short wash, short spin, is ideal. Then hover so you’re ready to pounce when the cycle finishes. You’ll be surprised how many of the creases drop out naturally if you pull it out of the machine quickly and then straighten it on a hanger so it shade-dries in the shape you want.
THEN GET STEAMY There’s a reason fashion designers, editors and stylists all use steamers on photoshoots: nothing gets wrinkles out better, faster and with the least damage to your goods. (GRAZIA’s Month of Sundays shoot at the bottom of this page featuring Uniqlo Summer Linen is the perfect example.) Forget grandma’s tip of hanging your linen in a steamy bathroom when you shower – that trick works fine for synthetics, but like so many of our favourite interesting people, linen is stubborn. If you’re in transit or don’t own a steamer (really good ones cost upward of $200, like this Phillips one from Harvey Norman, but you can pick up a decent travel one for a quarter of that) you can still use an iron. The trick is to do it damp, as this will fight creases better, save you needing chemical sprays and protect the fabric from burning. Just wet a cotton T-shirt or flat tea towel, lay it over your linen piece, then iron the two layers together. Then tell grandma how well this lo-fi option works.
GET SQUARE BEFORE YOU SIT Truth is, linen often looks its smooth best for the short amount of time you wear it at home. The minute you leave the house and step into your Uber, it’s at risk of becoming a hot mess. Again, for the record, we think this is part of linen’s charm, but if you want to stay sharper, longer, it’s worth getting in the habit of being conscious how you sit. Seriously. For dresses, skirts or untucked shirts, flatten the fabric behind you before you sit down. Likewise, behind your back before you recline. (Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how quickly you forget if you’re not staying aware.) Pull shorts and pants down at the waist as you seat so you don’t get a sea of wrinkles in your lap. Wearing a skirt? Fold the edge of your skirt up softly onto your thighs like a barrel wave can help if you’re in a full car. The other option is to walk everywhere, then stay on your feet, of course. Still, where’s the fun in that, no matter how good the party?
The Uniqlo Summer Linen collection is available in store now.
GALLERY: GET STYLING IDEAS FROM THIS GRAZIA x UNIQLO FASHION SHOOT