Linen Jacket

Sunday, July 8, 2012
Twice this summer, in between our torrential rain, I've found an opportunity to wear a favourite new item of clothing. My Shepherd & Woodward linen jacket was an extremely fortunate last-minute find before January's trip to India. There, it got a reasonable amount of use. Here in London, even in July, it's stayed mainly in the wardrobe. Nevertheless, on the rare occasions where I do manage to get it out, it's a real pleasure to wear.

A good linen jacket is cream, not white, and usually unlined and fairly unstructured. Although a full linen suit is a wonderful thing, a jacket worn with darker chinos or flannels is slightly more restrained as well as being more resilient to wear in the office or on public transport. A casual (but not linen) shirt, probably with single-cuffs, and a reasonably plain tie tied with a narrow knot completes the look.

It's the perfect summer alternative to the blue blazer or tweed jacket, suited to most occasions where a suit isn't required from a client meeting to a cocktail party or dinner out. After a day of wear, it's bound to end up pretty crumpled, especially around the arms, but that is part of the charm. All that is generally needed is to hang it and give it a quick steam before putting it away.

Aside from Shepherd & Woodward (a venerable institution based in Oxford, and well worth a visit if you're in the area), such jackets are available from most tailors in the spring and summer months, but the key is picking a colour and construction you like. They vary in material from very thin and unstructured to fairly crisp and, in colour, from nearly white to pale grey and everything in between.