The 8 Best Linen Shirts for Summer

The Aritzia Relaxed Linen Shirt is a sustainable classic.

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Fashion Linen Shirt
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Summer's officially here, which means linen should be in your shopping bag. Made from flax, linen fibers are not only durable, but also hollow, letting air circulate easily and keeping the woven fabric lightweight. It's the ideal fabric to wear on a hot day because "if you start to sweat, it's breathable," explains L.A.-based stylist Kandace Banks. It can naturally draw water or sweat off your skin, then dry quickly. Best of all, the fabric gets softer with each wash.

But linen isn't just about looks. "As far as fabrics go, it's one of the most sustainable, making it both low impact and practical," stylist Diana Tsui says, so you don't have to choose between looking good and doing good. Now, which ones should you actually buy? Well, to help you determine, we spoke to fashion editors and stylists as well as dug up the best ones we could find on the internet, so you don't have to.

Below are the best linen shirts you'll have on rotation all summer.

Our Picks

Best Overall: Aritzia Relaxed Linen Shirt

Best Linen Tops
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What We Love: The material is sustainable.

What We Don't Love: Reviewers say the shirt runs a bit big, so size down for less of an oversized fit.

This Aritzia linen shirt is the quintessential summer button-down: it's relaxed, as the name suggests, while still looking put-together. And a quick cuff of the sleeves adds an effortless feel. We stumbled upon this option during our research — it stood out for its sustainable sourcing, easily available to read about on their website. Aritzia blends the linen with a special fabric called Lenzing Ecovero Viscose, which is made from certified renewable wood sources. The manufacturing process uses both 50 percent less water and carbon dioxide emissions than other materials. Reviews call the quality impeccable and the fabric super soft — which may be thanks to the Viscose, which is known to be smooth, lightweight, and cooling. They also rave about how simple the shirt is to care for: you can just throw it in the wash, no dry cleaning or consistent ironing needed.

The shirt comes in 18 colors — white, pastel blue, and strawberry puff are in my cart right now. Aritzia also sells shorts and pants in the same fabric and many of the same colors, so a cute matching set is just a click away.

Size Range: 2XS-2XL | Blend: 55% Linen, 45% Lenzing Ecovero Viscose | Washing Instructions: Machine wash

Best Value: Uniqlo Premium Linen Long-Sleeve Shirt

Best Linen Tops
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What We Love: With the color range and the price, you can stock up for summer.

What We Don't Love: The sizing could be more inclusive.

We love Uniqlo for basics — we're particularly fond of their white button-downs — and their linen shirts are no exception. Thanks to its affordable price and wide range of colors from playful pastels to modern neutrals, you'll want to stock up on these shirts and lean on them for easy outfits year after year. The shirt is also thoughtfully cut shorter in the front than the back, so it will remain tucked in if you bend over. But there's no lining, which may make it see-through, especially in the lighter colors.

One last thing: the sizing for the women's linen shirt only goes up to XXL, but their unisex version, which has more of an even cut from the front to the back, goes up to 3XL for $40.

Size Range: XXS-XXL | Blend: 100% Linen | Washing Instructions: Machine wash cold, gentle cycle

Best Splurge: Gabriela Hearst Cruz Shirt

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What We Love: Gabriela Hearst takes sustainability seriously, even offering supplier transparency on the site.

What We Don't Love: This shirt isn't as versatile as others on the list: it's more fit for being dressed up than for a day at the beach.

Classics are worth investing in as long as they're made from a quality material that will last and are designed with a timeless cut. This Gabriela Hearst piece has both. "The fit is so sharp and [Gabriela Hearst's] sustainable-luxury mission means these pieces will remain classics for years to come," Tsui tells us. Gabriela Hearst is known for environmentally-conscious, luxury pieces with thoughtful design, and the brand has been implementing sustainable practices like using deadstock fabric, compostable packaging and producing products in limited quantities since 2015.

The cut on the shirt is also pretty impressive. It boasts hidden buttons and a sharp, tailored cuff, and comes in a couple of colors. You can opt for a classic white button-down that'll become a wardrobe staple, or for a hot pink that will deliver a statement.

Size Range: 36-46 | Blend: 100% Linen | Washing Instructions: Dry clean

Best Plus-Size: Ulla Popken Roll-Tab Sleeve Button Front Linen Blouse

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What We Love: The sleeves were made to be rolled.

What We Don't Love: We wish there were brighter color options.

This Ulla Popken shirt has the best of both worlds: coverage for fuller busts and just the right amount of skin, no unbuttoning needed. It also has adjustable sleeves with a roll-tab to keep the cuffs at the length you want without having to constantly re-roll.

Fashion stylist and plus-size expert Meaghan O'Connor plans to wear this all summer long. "Wear it open over your swimsuit, buttoned up with a cute pair of jeans, tucked into your favorite linen crops, or layered over a crop top and shorts," suggests O'Connor. "However you choose to style it, it will quickly become the perfect go-to item for your summer wardrobe."

Size Range: 12-34 | Blend: 100% linen | Washing Instructions: Delicate wash cycle

Best for the Beach: J.Crew Cotton-Linen Beach Shirt

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What We Love: In order to be more eco-conscious, J.Crew advocates for using more responsible materials.

What We Don't Love: For a shirt made for the beach, the sleeves are a little long.

For stylist and fashion editor Indya Brown, this J.Crew beach shirt is a no-brainer piece to pack for a trip. "J.Crew is a really solid retailer that I recommend for a go-to," she says. "If you're going to the beach and you throw an oversized linen shirt over a bikini, that's such a classic, easy, no-fuss look that's still polished and intentional." Tsui agrees: "I love linen shirts as swim cover-ups since they dry quickly, offer some sun coverage, and it makes my one-piece turn into an outfit appropriate enough to go to a nearby restaurant for a drink." This shirt is made to be slightly sheer, perfect for showing off your favorite new suit. But keep that in mind if you're looking to change for lunch after the pool: bring a tank top or bodysuit to layer.

This shirt is also made of a blend of linen and cotton, so it's softer and less likely to crease. J.Crew supports the Better Cotton Initiative, too, which advocates for more responsible cotton via less water use and harmful pest control, as well as better soil health, fiber quality, and working conditions.

You can also have a bit of fun with this shirt by monogramming it for a personal touch. There's the choice of classic block lettering or a diamond insignia, and with 18 thread colors and 8 fabric colors, you can find a pairing that matches your personality.

Size Range: XXS-3X | Blend: Linen and cotton blend | Washing Instructions: Machine wash

Best Striped: Ralph Lauren Relaxed Fit Striped Linen Shirt

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What We Love: This shirt is a classic for a reason.

What We Don't Love: It may not be as flattering on fuller busts.

Created for a very posh summer, this Ralph Lauren shirt doesn't just say, I may go onto a boat later — it says, I may buy a boat later. When tucked into shorts or worn as a beach cover-up, the blue and white stripe screams summer, while the yellow and pink options keep things playful with a slight nod to the classics. One reviewer did note that the shirt didn't accommodate her chest as much as she'd like. However, it has better coverage than other shirts on the list and has a nice weight to it without being too heavy. The stripes also help to hide any wrinkles that may arise, making it perfect to keep in your bag for a quick change after the beach or to throw on after the sun sets.

Size Range: XXS-XXL | Blend: 100% Linen | Washing Instructions: Machine wash

Best Short-Sleeve: Aritzia Gelato Linen Shirt

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What We Love: The cut is effortless and flattering.

What We Don't Love: Reviews say the sleeves can be tight, so size up.

Aritizia knows its way around a linen shirt — after all, their linen button-down is our best overall pick. But this short-sleeved option also deserves a spot on our list. It's super flattering on a range of body types, thanks to the way it hits just above the hips. There are also a few winks to classic tailoring which make it look more expensive than it is, from the mother of pearl buttons to the pleat in the back. Like others on the list, it's sheer, but a cute bralette underneath will add a feminine touch for long, hot days when layering is out of the question.

Size Range: 2XS-2XL | Blend: 100% Linen | Washing Instructions: Machine Wash

Best Sleeveless: J. Crew Linen Muscle Tank

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What We Love: This is the most versatile linen shirt we've seen.

What We Don't Love: Reviewers say the white is very sheer.

When the heat wave of the summer hits (you know, the one when even your A/C won't be enough), you're going to want this shirt. It's breathable, sleeveless, and feels like you aren't wearing anything. It also comes in 14 colors, making this a shirt you can live in all summer, whether you dress it up or down. Try it tucked into a skirt, peeking behind a blazer, paired with tailored linen pants and a great belt, or tucked into a pair of jean shorts on the way to the beach.

Size Range: XXS-3X | Blend: 100% Linen | Washing Instructions: Machine wash

What to Keep in Mind

Wrinkling:

Linen is known for wrinkling! Once it's folded, it likes to stay there. But Banks says that just adds to its charm. "Linen has character. You can still rock it wrinkled," she says. "It makes your outfit look a little more interesting." Tsui agrees: "I know some people aren't a fan of the way it wrinkles," she says, "but that adds to its appeal. You're pulled together without worrying about sitting a certain way to prevent creasing." So don't worry if a crease or two forms while you're out and about — summer isn't the time to stress about a wrinkle or two.

Washing instructions:

If you follow a few basic steps, you can make your linen last. Although some linen shirts can be machine washed, there's a bit more to it. Heat can shrink the fabric, so you'll want to opt for lukewarm or cold temps when possible. Wash your linen with a mild detergent in lukewarm water on the delicate cycle and air dry by either hanging it up or laying it flat on a towel.

Blends:

There's this idea that fabric blends are less desirable. But the right blend can actually enhance what makes a fabric great while diminishing any faults. Take linen: it's often blended with cotton, rayon, polyester, or viscose, which can make it softer, less prone to wrinkling, and even give it a slight sheen, all while maintaining its signature breathability.

Your Questions, Answered

How Do You Fold a Linen Shirt for Travel?

Linen is the ultimate vacation fabric — but it is known for wrinkling, and isn't too happy when it's shoved into a duffle bag for the weekend. Thankfully, here are some tricks you can try for fewer creases: If your linen shirt has a lining on the inside, turn it inside out to protect it. You can also try rolling the shirt so you stay away from the larger wrinkles that folding creates.

Also, try to pack your linens in a hard-sided suitcase, and pack less so they're not squished as much. But even with all of these tips, you still may need to steam or iron your shirt once you arrive at your destination if you want to start your vacation with as few wrinkles as possible.

Can You Steam a Linen Shirt?

Yes! Experts recommend using high heat and high steam to get rid of even the most stubborn linen wrinkles. If you're traveling and aren't sure what your hotel will provide, there are some great steamers that won't take up much space in your luggage or cut into your vacation budget. They're also great to keep around the house for once you come home.

There are also a few creative ways to steam without an actual steamer. You can always get your linen shirt a bit wet and use a blow dryer to dry it, releasing the wrinkles. For a more hands-off approach, you can hang your shirt in your bathroom and let the steam of a hot shower do the work. Keep in mind, though, that 100 percent linen shirts will shrink about four percent after the first wash or steam, so it's almost always safer to size up.

What Pants Can You Wear With a Linen Shirt?

Think of linen shirts as a summer version of the white t-shirt. They're so classic, you really can't go wrong. That said, Tsui leans away from pairing linen button-downs with linen pants unless it's a set and made to go together. Instead, she likes to pair linen shirts with denim. "It's such a classic combination, whether you're wearing it with shorts or slouchy jeans," she says. If you want to dress your linen up for work, skirts are an option, too. Try a head-to-toe, tailored linen look with a linen button-down on top and a linen skirt on the bottom. Banks also loves to make a menswear-inspired look a bit more feminine by showing a bit of skin. "I like to wear mine with three buttons undone, roll up the sleeves and tie it above my belly button," she says. "Then I pair that with a flat-front, wide-leg trouser that zips on the side." In other words, feel free to wear your linen shirt with whatever bottoms you'd like. As long as you feel good, that's all that matters.

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