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There are a few fashion staples that everyone knows they absolutely need—like straight-leg jeans and a pair of white sneakers—but we'd like to invite linen shirts to this exclusive club. The likelihood is pretty high that you already own a linen shirt, but if you don’t, there is no better time than the present to invest in one.
“Linen shirts are airy and effortlessly chic," expert Chelsea Titzer says. "They are a great addition to any closet and can be styled for the office, beach, and even a night out."
If you’ve never dabbled in the world of linen shirts, then you might feel a bit overwhelmed with anything new. With that in mind, we’ve tapped some of the industry’s top stylists to get the low down on this closet must-have.
Keep reading to discover Byrdie's list of the best linen shirts, as well as styling advice from Titzer and other experts.
Best Overall: Uniqlo Premium Linen Long-Sleeve Shirt
With a price point under $50, this premium shirt is a major steal with its classic silhouette and long-sleeve construction. Button it up for a more sophisticated look or open it up for a more relaxed fit—this linen shirt is extremely versatile. Plus, it's even machine washable.
Material: 100% European linen | Size Range: XXS-XXL | Colors: White, Black, Light Gray, Brown, Green, Blue, Light Purple | Care: Machine wash cold on gentle cycle
Best Budget: Gap Linen Boyfriend Shirt
Gap is home to some of the best pieces at an affordable price point so you can buy more for less. This boyfriend-style shirt provides a loose, relaxed fit designed for comfort with its long sleeves, curved hem, and button-front collar. Wear this over your favorite camisole or tank top for a cute layered look perfect for spring and summer.
Material: 100% linen | Size Range: XXS-XXL | Colors: Sand Beige, Sagebrush Green, Resolution Blue, Iris Purple, Black, Citron Yellow, +more | Care: Machine wash
Best Designer: Loewe x Paula's Ibiza Palm Logo Print Hooded Linen Shirt
Nothing screams summer quite like a nod to Ibiza and palm tree motifs. This shirt, a collaboration between Loewe and Paula's Ibiza, is unique in that it has a button-down front paired with a hood—and it is constructed from linen fabric. This is the perfect over-the-swimsuit shirt that will not only keep you cool but also stands out from the normal pool coverup.
Material: Linen | Size Range: 36-40 FR | Color: White | Care: Follow care instructions on the label
Best on Amazon: Runcati Button Down Long Sleeve V-Neck Shirt
This button-down from Amazon is the perfect attire for those Sunday brunches and strolls—as it's been reviewed by over 11,000 people. Featuring a cuffed sleeve and Henley-style button collar, this option feels breathable and lightweight. Plus, it's available in 31 colors and offers sizes up to XXL.
Material: 70% cotton, 30% linen | Size Range: S-XXL | Colors: White, Black, Grey, Blue, Wine Red, Green, Khaki, Pink, +more | Care: Machine wash on gentle cycle
Best Classic: Saks Off 5th Easy-Fit Button-Down Linen Shirt
Get your hands on a quintessential linen shirt with long sleeves, buttons, and rolled cuffs from Saks Fifth Avenue for under $40. Wear with your favorite pair of denim and sneakers for a laid-back yet elevated look that will leave you feeling your best.
Material: Linen | Size Range: XS-XL | Colors: White, Blue-White, Chambray, Ballerina, +more | Care: Machine wash
Best No-Iron: Foxcroft Sterling Button Front Non-Iron Linen Shirt
While linen clothing has plenty of benefits, especially in warm weather, the biggest sticking point people have is how easily it becomes wrinkled. Thankfully, there are brands out there now that offer wrinkle-free linen. This longline linen shirt with stylish side slits and quarter sleeves won’t wrinkle or crease so no need to worry about steaming or ironing when you’re running low on time. Plus, it's available in a plethora of colors so you can pick up several for your summer wardrobe.
Material: 100% linen | Size Range: 2-18 | Colors: Coral Twist, White, Cabana Pink, Lime Twist, +more | Care: Machine wash and tumble dry
Best Eco-Friendly: Eileen Fisher Organic Linen Jersey Crew Neck Top
Eileen Fisher is a brand known for its ethical and eco-friendly production practices. It's made with the most sustainable materials and methods as part of the brand's initiative to take responsibility for how they produce clothing. This jersey offers a loose, relaxed fit for those casual outings where comfort is a must.
Material: 100% organic linen | Size Range: XXS-XL | Colors: Black, White, Dolphin, Butter, +more | Care: Machine wash cold
Best Dressy: Vineyard Vines Pintucked Linen Popover Blouse
Whether it’s for date night or a trip to the office, having a dressy linen shirt is essential. Featuring pintucks and buttons, wear this solid-colored blouse with a pair of slacks, jeans, or dress shorts for a sophisticated and tasteful look.
Material: 100% linen | Size Range: XXS-XL | Colors: Jet black, Newport blue | Care: Machine wash, tumble dry
Best for Work: Cuyana Linen Button Front Blouse
Head to the office in this balloon-sleeve linen blouse that screams stylish and sophisticated. Its V-neck cut allows for room to show off a necklace without showing too much skin. Pair with a silky midi skirt and leather loafers—or with jeans and white sneakers for casual Fridays.
Material: 56% linen, 39% Tencel Lyocell, 5% elastane | Size Range: XS-XL | Colors: Natural, Burnt Orange | Care: Machine wash cold in delicate cycle; lay flat to dry
Best Cropped: Bella Dahl Shirred Cap Sleeve Front Tie Top
When the weather gets warm, that’s when the cropped shirts and short shorts come out of the closet. With button closures and a knot in the front, this linen shirt is ideal for a trip to the beach with its laid-back look.
Material: 100% linen | Size Range: XS-L | Colors: Ocean Tide, Coral Sand | Care: Machine wash cold
Best Short Sleeve: Rails Cito Linen Blend Shirt
Perhaps the most versatile option on the list, this linen shirt by Rails will become your favorite summertime companion. Wear it to the beach or pool over your swimsuit or pair it with a slip skirt for dining al fresco. Wear it to work over a high-neck tank top to beat the commuting heat. The options are endless with this classic shirt that features two chest pockets and a spread collar.
Material: 55% linen, 45% rayon | Size Range: XS-L | Colors: White, Rhone Stripe, Dune Stripe | Care: Hand wash and line dry
Best for Layering: Aldya Gigi Top
This white tank top is reminiscent of the '90s with its spaghetti-thin straps and slim fit that contours the body. It features an invisible zipper in the back and the fabric is free from harmful chemicals. On those colder days, layer a cardigan on top for extra warmth and coverage.
Material: 55% linen, 45% cotton | Size Range: 6-14 | Color: White
Best Striped: Polo Ralph Lauren Relaxed Fit Striped Linen Shirt
You can't get more classic than a striped button-down from Polo Ralph Lauren. Channel vacation mode every day with this breathable long sleeve striped shirt that features a relaxed, straight fit and the brand's signature logo. Tuck it into a pair of trousers for a comfortable high-fashion look.
Material: Linen | Size Range: XXS-XXL | Colors: Berry/White, Oasis Yellow/White, +more | Care: Machine wash
Best Pocket: Boden Linen Shirt
Keep your important cards or hand sanitizer close by with the help of these two front pockets on this Boden shirt. With a hem just above the mid-thigh, style up or down for a comfortable oversized look or a polished one with your favorite skirt or pants. Plus, the full-length sleeves offer extra coverage (and layerabilty) for those chillier days.
Material: 100% linen | Size Range: 2-22 | Colors: Black, Marsh, Navy, Formica Pink, Paradise Bay, Oriental Paradise, White, +more | Care: Machine washable
Best Oversized: Parachute Linen Top
If you're a fan of Parachute's linen sheets, this shirt makes it so you can wear them when you're awake. The brand's linen shirt boasts a relaxed, oversized silhouette with a slit hem, drop shoulder, and chest pocket. Toss on this long-sleeve blouse for those more relaxed occasions, whether that be a day off at home or laying out poolside.
Material: 100% European flax | Size Range: XS-XL | Colors: Moss, Bone, Clay, Coal | Care: Machine wash
Best Patterned: Rails Charli Fruit Print Linen Blend Blouse
Show your playful side with this colorful fruit print top by celeb-favorite brand Rails. This isn’t your stereotypical plain white linen shirt—illustrations of strawberries, grapes, and bananas add some life to it. Plus, its curved hem can be tucked into a pair of jeans or lay flat depending on preference. There's also a similar option in watermelon print.
Material: 55% linen, 45% rayon | Size Range: XS-L | Color: Cut Out Fruits | Care: Hand-wash and line dry
Best for the Beach: J. Crew Cotton-Linen Beach Shirt
Toss on this linen beach shirt over your bathing suit while you head to the boardwalk or local deli. Not only can you wear it on the beach, but you can button it up and turn it into a blouse for those late-night dinners. It even comes in eight colors so you can easily match the shirts to your swimsuits.
Material: Linen/cotton | Size Range: XXS-XXXL | Colors: Candlelight, Sheer Flax, White, Retro Blue, Navy, Black, +more | Care: Machine wash
Best Handmade: Sika Designs Latifa Top
Add some flair to your wardrobe with this linen top complete with layers of ruffles at the shoulders. It's an excellent garment to wear to a party, fancy dinner, or any special occasion that arises.
Material: 100% linen | Size Range: 6-16 | Color: Pink
What to Look for in Linen Shirts
When shopping for linen shirts, it’s really important to keep texture in mind. Many brands carry linen shirts that are a little thick and rough, but the perfect linen shirt is smooth and soft.
“A soft hand feel is important to keep in mind since many linen shirts on the market are not very soft,” Titzer says. “Bella Dahl’s signature tissue linen is airy, lightweight, and insanely soft compared to others since each shirt is garment-dyed and washed for softness.”
Where Shirts Are Made
It’s also important to look into who made your clothes and where your money is going in the fashion industry. “For a linen shirt, you want a product that is ideally fair trade and a classic cut that will withstand the test of time,” fashion expert Katie Schmidt says. “Fair trade is a movement focused on paying fair wages and ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for the individuals that create the garments. Know who made your clothes!”
What is the difference between cotton and linen?
When it comes time to shop, it’s important to know what you’re buying. Yes, you might be looking for a linen shirt, but how does that differ from a cotton one? We tapped style coach Leena Alsulaiman to weigh in:
“Both cotton and linen are natural fibers. However, linen is made from the stalks of the flax plant, while cotton is a fiber that grows as fluff around the seeds of the cotton plant,” she says. “Linen also differs from cotton because it is a highly breathable fabric, more absorbent, and around 30 percent stronger than cotton, making it last longer.”
Are linen shirts versatile?
“This closet staple is easy to dress up or down depending on the weather or activities planned for the day,” expert Arielle Charnas says. “When you have a good linen shirt, it's an item you will wear every year and for multiple seasons.”
Can you wear linen shirts in the winter?
Linen shirts can be worn in both warm and cold climates. “Linen is great for warmer climates since it is a cool and breathable fiber,” Titzer says. “Even if you don’t live in a warmer climate you can still layer a linen shirt with a nice moto jacket, denim, or utility-style jacket for extra warmth.”
For some outfit inspiration, consider how Charnas would style a linen shirt in the winter: “I would pair an oversized linen white shirt with the Something Navy Ribbed Wide Leg Pants with slits and a chunky sweater such as the Something Navy Relaxed Cableknit Sweater in oatmeal. A cozy sweater is essential when it comes to layering pieces and if you end up someplace with really cold air.”
Can you put linen shirts in the washing machine?
There’s really no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Whether or not you can put linen shirts in the washing machine depends on the brand. With that said, many brands recommend machine washing with cold water on a gentle cycle and following that with a low tumble dry.
“I highly recommend line drying your linen shirt (this helps keep colors bright, too),” Schmidt says. “Avoiding harmful chemicals in detergents can also help protect the color and texture of your clothing.”
Linen shirts can easily be wrinkled and for best wear, you’ll want to make sure it’s ironed or steamed. “The biggest styling tip for making sure a linen shirt still looks polished is using a steamer,” Charnas says. “I bring the Nori Steamer with me on all my trips—it’s so easy to pack—and it’s always in my closet. Never underestimate the power of quick steam and an unwrinkled shirt.”
Why Trust Byrdie
Casey Clark is a Byrdie contributor and has written about fashion for publications like StyleCaster, Reviewed, BuzzFeed, and more. In her own wardrobe, she favors her light pink linen shirt over her other shirts thanks to its versatility and breathability. She has done research on many of the most popular fabrics used in the fashion industry, including linen.