From pastel-hued midi dresses to bold and bright minis, linen is this summer’s must-wear textile. And best of all? It’s sustainable.
For as long as we can remember, our summer wardrobes have been synonymous with crisp cotton dresses — plus cotton trousers, cotton T-shirts, cotton shirts, we could go on… But this year, there’s something different about the perennial summer staple dress — it’s textured, and coloured, and looks a bit more relaxed. Why, you ask? Because it’s made from linen.
You see, linen is the new textile in town that’s taking over. (If you don’t believe us, have a quick scan of Instagram to look at chic interiors like sofas and soft furnishings, and all the chic tables dressed for dinner parties. You’ll find, yes you guessed it, linen.
The linen dress is a failsafe choice for myriad reasons. The natural fibre keeps you cool in the heat, so a linen number is the perfect choice for days when the barometer soars. Linen also looks kind of great when it’s a bit creased, meaning it’s far less maintenance than its cotton counterpart and gives off serious woke-up-this-chic vibes.
The texture also means that linen looks great in colours that would in cotton seem a bit twee — pastel colours particularly. Linen dresses are super versatile so can be styled appropriately for multiple occasions — for the office, pair with a simple strappy heel or backless loafer, while for the beach add a flat leather sandal. More casual choices can also be worn with trainers for lazy Sundays in the park.
Best of all, linen comes from the flax plant, meaning it’s naturally environmentally friendly and grown without need for pesticides or fertilisers like lots of un-organic cotton is. Simple, chic and sustainable, what’s not to love?
No matter your itinerary, there’s a heatwave-worthy linen dress for everyone this summer. Keep scrolling to see our pick of the best.
The little black dress gets a summer overhaul by Ukranian linen brand The Sleeper. With long loose sleeves and a super chunky buckle belt, this dress has all the comfort of a dressing gown but with maximum style points. Pair with simple strappy sandals and a basket bag for a cool, daytime look.
The Sleeper belted linen robe, £185 at Net-a-Porter
London-based brand Ninety Percent donate 90% of profits at the end of each year to charitable organisations as voted by their customers — making this orange maxi dress a must-have for more than its bold and bright aesthetic. Pair with simple tan sandals for beach days.
Sophisticated enough to wear to work but easily pared down with a simple white T-shirt underneath, this Topshop version gets full marks from us. Style up the pinafore detailing by pairing it with cute white ankle socks and a heeled sandal. Schoolgirl chic.
Topshop linen blend dress, £39
One for more formal occasions, this linen-silk mix midi dress from Cos is perfect for weddings, garden parties and other summer events. With a pleated back that adds interest to this otherwise minimalist design, style with barely-there sandals in off-white and a tonal bag.
Cos linen-silk dress with back ties, £150
Marks & Spencer
No summer wardrobe would be complete without a shirt dress, and this linen number from Marks & Spencer updates the classic workwear staple into a cool and casual summer midi. With a subtle grey stripe and gathered waist, this one can be worn with sandals or sneakers — style with a satchel bag for a relaxed, everyday look.
Marks & Spencer linen shirt, £45
Who said linen needs to be plain? This bohemian Zimmerman number is anything but a wallflower. In a loose-cut midi length with lightly puffed, cuffed sleeves, this style is perfect worn with thin-strappy heels or black ankle boots — wear into autumn with a roll neck underneath.
Zimmerman Veneto leopard linen dress, £595 at Selfridges
The perfect vacation dress? We think so. In a turquoise hue reminiscent of the clearest waters and the brightest blue skies, this dress is an ideal colour for offsetting a summer glow. With an off-the-shoulder design, a flamenco flounce at the hem and a belted waist, pair with sandals and take this one dancing.
Zara ruffled linen dress, £59.99