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Linen love: Top pieces to keep you cool and chic in summer

Linen was never on my fashion radar until I saw this beautiful Marks and Spencer linen shirt and just had to have it.

It was the colour, to be honest, that attracted me. I love the beautiful midnight blue of it, dark and dreamy. I’m trying to get away from having an all-black wardrobe so this ticks all my comfort zone boxes.

But linen…? It was always a fabric I’d avoided because of its reputation for creasing. I grew up with a mam who loved clothes being pristine smooth – she used to iron dusters, tea towels and (wait for it) even bras. When I’d pick up something in linen when we were shopping, her lips would purse and she’d say: “Creases.” So back it would go.

That stuck with me for years and while I’d ooh and aah over women looking cool and chic in a linen outfit, my brain would subconsciously think: “Creases.”

What a divvy!

It’s taken me 54 years to break this idea and now I have, I’m a groupie and searching out more! My shirt feels and looks so comfortable and chic, I’m eyeing up the other colours (the khaki is divine). It’s an effortless piece which makes me feel stylish without trying. I’m obsessed with Camille Cottin from Call My Agent and I think it’s just the thing her character Andréa would wear under a sharp suit. (And yes, her photo is the one I’m currently showing my hairdresser.)

Since then, I also fell in love with the beautiful Phase Eight Adelia Fine Knit Linen Jumper that I wore for a night out with work the other day. You can see it in my gallery of linen looks I love.

Why is linen good for midlife women?

It helps your temperature

Because of the way it’s made and its fibres, linen is a breathable fabric, so it allows air to flow through it. This will keep you cooler when the temperature starts to rise both inside and out, for you menopausal women out there.

It’s also a strong and stiff fabric, which means it won’t cling but softly drapes over the body, again keeping you cooler (and it’s more flattering.)

Linen wicks away moisture

You know what it’s like, you’re out feeling and looking your best and suddenly you’re hit with a hot flush and bam! Farewell chic goddess, hello wet mess.

You all know my love of FiftyOne Apparel because its clothes wick away the moisture. Well, linen does the same.

Linen is absorbent, so it will remove the sweat from your skin. But then it releases it back into the air so you don’t feel clammy and sticky. It can actually absorb up to 20% of its weight in water before you feel damp.

It keeps the heat away from you

Linen draws heat away from your body, helping to keep you cooler. Not only that, it also reflects the heat away from you. Its lower thread count means it’s actually better at doing this than cotton.

It’s sustainable

Linen is made from flax plant fibres and unless you dye it, it is biodegradable. Opt for natural colours – beige, ecru, tan etc – to be kinder to the planet. White is one of the worst colours to choose because of the bleach involved.

Plus every part of the plant gets used for something, so there’s no waste. And added to that, it’s a strong fabric so will last for several years – ideal if you’re buying linen sheets for your bed.

Does linen crease easy?

Yes. My mam was right. It does and it doesn’t matter how careful you are. But you know what, I don’t mind. The crinkles add character, rather like the crinkles around my eyes, and life’s too short to worry about being crease-free all the time.

To keep the creases to a minimum:

  • wash your linen in cold water and don’t use a long spin
  • take your linen out of the washing machine as soon as it’s done and give a good shake
  • smooth out as much as you can and put on a hanger to dry
  • iron your linen when it’s slightly – slightly! – damp. Too wet and you could burn the fabric
  • flatten the fabric behind you when you sit down
  • relax! Clothes and fashion are meant to be enjoyed so go out and have the best time you can.

Is linen on your summer wardrobe? I’d love to know your favourite brands and pieces. Leave me a comment below and don’t forget to sign up to get your free 20-page guide to a happier, healthier menopause and midlife.

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