Why Linen Clothing Is Pretty Cool

“I have been “vagabonding” around Argentina and Uruguay for 5 weeks in hot, humid weather. These pants were cool and comfortable and stood up to bus rides on well-used seats, concrete benches, wooden park benches, etc. without a snag or stain. They washed well and withstood messy packing techniques beautifully!” – Orvis customer Judimt

When you slip on a favorite piece of linen clothing, it’s self-evident you’re wearing a luxe fabric with a flattering fall that always keeps you cool. But did you know you’re also donning ancient history? And were you aware that linen comes from the same plant that gives us flax seeds, famous for their brain-boosting Omega-3’s?

Read on and find out why linen clothing makes you look and feel so smart.

One of the first textiles: Linen is made from fibers in the stalk of the flax plant. The fibers are so strong that hand-woven threads survived more than 30,000 years to be discovered by archaeologists in 2009 inside a prehistoric cave dwelling in Georgia in Eastern Europe.  Fragments of linen clothing have been found in lakeside dwellings in Switzerland dating from 8,000 B.C. And the ancient Egyptians are famous for wearing fine linens while they lived and wrapping their Pharaohs in linen after death.

Artisanal cultivation: The route from flax plant seedling to comfy drawstring pants is complex, labor-intensive and the reason linen has been a luxury fabric for millennia.

The flax plant is ready for harvest after its blue flower has bloomed and the stalk dries to a light golden color. Once harvested, the plant is retted – a nice way of saying it’s allowed to rot and ferment in water so the silky flax fibers separate cleanly from the tough bark. Traditionally, retting is achieved by dew in the fields or in slow-moving rivers and bogs. The remaining fibers are then separated, dried, combed and spun into fine threads.

Cool feel: Linen clothing has long been prized in hot, humid climates, such as the tropics and the Middle East, because it is naturally cooling. It is a highly breathable fabric that allows air to circulate around your body. It is a soft, but structured fabric that won’t cling to your body during sticky weather. Finally, it is naturally wicking and quick drying. That means it absorbs moisture from your body and evaporates it away quickly – keeping you comfortable.

Cool look: Though undoubtedly wrinkle-prone, in recent years that quality has been embraced as part of linen’s relaxed, resort-wear charm. The slubs – little thread bumps that can crop up in the fabric – have gone from being considered defects to fashion forward embellishments. And the always easy-going drape of linen makes for a fresh look on the most humid days.

So go ahead and bolster your wardrobe with linen fashions. They’ll help make your summer a breeze – whether you’re taking off for a hiking trip in the tropics or simply enjoying a barbeque on a sultry afternoon at home. Now isn’t that cool?

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