Consider the linen suit, pt. 2

The campaign to bring the linen suit back from the brink started exactly one year ago today. Back then, the stock of the linen suit could hardly sink lower. It was down and out, an outcast; at best a laughing stock and at worst outlawed by self-appointed fashion-enforcers.

One year on, then, how have its fortunes changed? Not a lot. The full top-to-bottom linen suit remains today a niche pursuit; the preserve of confident men on holiday and at weddings. But there is really no reason for this. The linen suit, cut with precision, assembled with good cloth, and worn unaffected and at ease, has something for everyone.

Three-button linen blazer and notch-back linen trousers worn with white cotton shirt with detachable collar (detached).

Start at the top. The blazer. Over the past twelve months, the linen blazer has undergone a revamp. It has more structure now; its construction more formal and tailored. It has inset shoulders — carefully steamed and pressed to soften them up to the greatest possible extent — as well as darts at chest, working cuffs of three buttons, and more formally proportioned patch-pockets. It also has more pockets: a pipe-pocket, with button-loop fastening, sits above the patch-pocket on the left-side; a stitch-through pipe-pocket sits at the chest on the other. Back to the drawing-board went internals, too, with the sloping curves of a traditional buggy-lining supplanting what was previously a full back-lining.

The linen trousers, meanwhile, are largely the same as they were last year. Simple in appearance but sturdily assembled, they are notch-backed and half-lined, with button-through pockets at the rear and quarter-top pockets at the sides. The most significant change is that they are narrower, tapering more sharply at the knee. With the linen suit, too much fullness in the bottom-half is ill-advised; a little sharpness goes a long way.

What resolutely has not changed in the past twelve months — nor, indeed, in the past twelve-dozen years — is the cloth. It is still a mid-weight linen made by the north-west’s finest purveyor of such material. It is natural both in colour and in nature — untrammelled entirely by processing and dyeing. And, as has been said in these parts before, it is linen that can stand up for itself; linen a world away from the flimsy and see-through linen that has done so much to tarnish a fine cloth’s name. This is cloth as happy freshly steamed and pressed on the day it is bought, as it is washed five-dozen times and worn rumpled over many years. It steadfastedly holds shape either way and, being so substantial of weight, is not subject to the over-creasing of its lighter siblings.

The new three-button linen blazer can be found here; the new notch-back linen trouser here. They may be worn separately or, better perhaps, in tandem, where the matching curved notches at the blazer lapel and the trouser centre-back waistband come into play.