This hyped-up shirt fabric is touted as the perfect solution to a hot summer day -- but it's a nightmare to actually wear

LinenshirtsUniqloLinen isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Every year, when it gets hot outside, we hear the same story from our favourite clothing brands. They claim to be selling the “perfect summer shirt.”

What they’re actually selling is a lie.

The promise of linen (made from fibres derived from the flax plant) is that it will keep you dry and stop you from overheating. For the most part, linen accomplishes that goal.

But there is a cost that isn’t quite as transparent as the shirts may be.

First and foremost: the cooling proprieties of linen are a double-edged sword. Sure, they work while you’re outside. But you better hope you brought a jacket once you enter any place with air conditioning, as you will quickly start shivering.

Because the material is so breathable, it’s also doesn’t insulate at all. That can create some uncomfortableness in places with rip roaring A/C. Out of the fying pan into the freezer.

Linen aficionados will tell you that the whole point of linen is that it’s cool and effortless. They will use an Italian word like “sprezzatura” (“studied carelessness”) and explain how that excuses wrinkle-prone linen from joining the rest of shirt fabrics, which play it straight and have a positive relationship with the ironing board.

Unfortunately, a wrinkled shirt still looks wrinkled, even if it’s stylishly and intentionally wrinkled. Due to the proprieties of linen, it’s virtually impossible for a wearer to remain kempt. The shirt always looks fresh out of the dirty laundry pile — even when it’s fresh out of the dryer. Though some are able to pull of this look, most are best off avoiding it.

Another terrible property of linen is how it feels on the skin. Allegedly, it gets softer as you wash it. But as the proud (?) owner of three linen shirts, I’ve found that’s not quit the case. My shirts are still as scratchy and uncomfortable as they were off the rack.

In order to avoid this uncomfortable situation, you have to splurge for really expensive linen. Another solution is to go with a linen and cotton blend. However, depending on the percentages, this would negate all or most of the supposed benefits of wearing linen in the first place.

Instead of jumping on the linen bandwagon, embrace the ubiquity of cotton. A lightweight cotton insulates better, feels better on the skin, and is even cheaper than linen. And it will work just as well to keep you from overheating.

If you’re a bit more adventurous, seersucker is also a good choice. No longer relegated to the preps, seersucker now comes in plenty of other colours and patterns besides just he classic striped pale blue and white.

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