Linen shirts are a mainstay for building a summer wardrobe– and for good reason. The goes-with-anything piece acts as the perfect cover-up for days spent by the pool or doubles as a sophisticated top for nights out. Linen is breathable, absorbent, and not to mention super durable, making it an ideal choice for active days.
We consulted New York City-based stylist Chelsea Volpe about her insight on linen and her favorite places to shop the summer-favorite fabric. We also spent hours researching the best materials, styles, and brands, from classic button-ups to chic vests. Find the best linen shirts to top off your favorite summer ensemble for hot days and cool nights below.
Everlane The Linen Relaxed Shirt
A crisp, loose-fitting button-up shirt is a must-have for your summer wardrobe, and The Linen Relaxed Shirt from Everlane earned the top spot. This summer staple is perfect for day or night thanks to its lightweight fabric and wide range of colors, from timeless black and white to tropical Brazilian Sand. Wear it with the brand's coordinating pants and sandals for a monochromatic look, or rock it solo with your go-to shorts and favorite summer kicks.
Price at time of publish: $88
Material: 100% linen | Size Range: 00–16 | Colors: Classic Blue, Seagrass, Kalamata, White +more | Care: Machine wash cold, then tumble dry low
H&M Oversized Linen Shirt
This H&M top is the epitome of summertime chic with its oversized-yet-cropped silhouette. The heavily dropped shoulders and wide elbow-length sleeves are giving off major picnic vibes. So if you don't like tank tops because of the attention they draw to your arms, this cropped option is a happy medium. There are also black, white, and bright hues to choose from.
Price at time of publish: $25
Material: 100% linen | Size Range: XS–XXL | Colors: White, Black, Light Beige, Light Yellow +more | Care: Machine wash cool
Akris Punto Linen-Blend Shirt
Just call it the latest trend in dopamine-inducing fashion: metallic is back, and we couldn't be more thrilled. With three-quarter-length sleeves and a metallic pine color, this linen-blend top from Akris exudes the ultimate party girl look. The classic gold and silver tones are always a safe bet, but this earthy tropical green is a trendy alternative that looks great with Bermuda shorts and a pair of block heel sandals.
Price at time of publish: $495
Material: 88% linen, 12% nylon | Size Range: 2–16 | Colors: Metallic Pine | Care: Dry clean
Farm Rio Wonderful Toucans Unisex Shirt
With this toucan print top from Farm Rio, you can channel the vibrant culture of Rio de Janeiro all summer long. The eco-friendly fabric is crafted with striking prints and stripes to create an eye-catching piece that will liven up your wardrobe. Also, the brand is all about positive energies and beautiful frequencies, and with each purchase, the company promises to plant one tree in the Brazilian rainforest.
Price at time of publish: $140
Material: 55% linen, 45% viscose | Size Range: XS–XL | Print: Toucans | Care: Machine wash on a gentle cycle, then line dry
Anthropologie The Audie Linen Puff-Sleeve Blouse
This season, we're going big or going home, especially when it comes to embracing the "puff-sleeve" trend. Whether you're obsessed with the canary yellow, green, white, or polka dot blue motif design, the linen blouse, ruffled trim, and button front exude chicness and class. Taking its inspiration from the Greek goddess and warrior queen Maeve, this top will have you feeling instantly royal.
Price at time of publish: $98–$110
Material: Linen | Size Range: XXS–XL with additional petite and plus sizes | Colors: White, Canary, Sky +more | Care: Machine wash
Quince 100% European Linen Short Sleeve Shirt
With Quince's 100% European linen short sleeve shirt, you won't ever have to give up the carefree spirit of summer. This collared short sleeve can be worn anywhere, from the office to a beach resort, instantly upgrading any outfit. Also, you can forget about your clothes sticking to your skin on humid days thanks to the linen fabrication, which is made from 100% European flax and is therefore environmentally friendly.
Price at time of publish: $35
Material: 100% European flax linen | Size Range: XS–XL | Colors: Navy, terracotta, light blue, +more | Care: Machine wash cold with like colors
Best Tank Top
Zara Linen Blend Top
Hey Siri, play “Under the Boardwalk,” because that's the song that plays in our heads when we imagine ourselves wearing this Zara linen tank, sitting by the beach with a popsicle in hand, letting the sun kiss our skin. Enjoy the free-flowing style with ties at the neckline and securing the open backside.
Price at time of publish: $40
Material: 54% linen 46% cotton | Size Range: XS–XL | Colors: Dusty Blue | Care: Machine wash
Madewell Embroidered Linen-Blend Resort Crop Shirt
Embroidered patterns are limitless in their designs, and Madewell's chic yellow top is a perfect example of this. The cropped cut hits above the hips in a style reminiscent of a resort-ready look. So, wear it over a bikini or one-piece swimsuit, or wear it open with a summer-friendly pair of white linen shorts.
Price at time of publish: $85
Material: Linen, viscose | Size Range: XXS–XL | Colors: Gilded Chartreuse | Care: Machine wash
Mango 100% Linen Vest
Get a polished, tailored look with Mango’s take on the linen vest. Whether worn over a T-shirt or as a standalone piece, this Barcelona-designed investment piece is a perfect match for high-rise jeans and wedge sandals. If you're in love with this trend-proof item, stock up on the pastel colorways, too. Plus, its extensive size range is a major perk.
Price at time of publish: $70
Material: 100% linen | Size Range: XXS–4XL | Colors: Sky Blue, White, Lilac | Care: Machine wash
Ralph Lauren Oversize Striped Linen Shirt
“If you want a timeless linen shirt look no further than Polo Ralph Lauren,” says Volpe, and we love an oversized option from the brand. This button-up can double as a bathing suit cover-up and the classic stripes are a summer-favorite design. “I like having basics like Ralph Lauren in my wardrobe because they are buildable,” Volpe adds. “For the everyday shopper who steers clear of funky fashion, this is your go-to brand.”
Price at time of publish: $148
Material: Linen | Size Range: XXS–XXL | Colors: Yellow Stripe, Red Stripe | Care: Machine wash
Best for Vacation
Tommy Bahama Legacy Leaves Coastalina Linen Camp Shirt
Tropical prints are this season's patterned trend, according to designers like Johanna Ortiz and Anna Sui. And Tommy Bahama's camp-inspired number is exactly what you'll want to pack for your next jet-setting vacay. Accessorize the linen short-sleeve with a Panama hat and colorful cat-eye sunglasses.
Price at time of publish: $110
Material: 100% linen | Size Range: XXS–XL | Colors: Big Sky Blue | Care: Machine wash cold with like colors, then tumble dry low
Best for Work
Banana Republic Linen-Rayon Shirt
A band collar blouse is the best choice if you don't have enough jewelry to accessorize your outfit. This button-down Banana Republic long-sleeve with a patch chest pocket is the epitome of professionalism. Featuring a luxurious linen and rayon construction, this top is offered in a wide range of sizes (extra small to extra large) and colors (including "Neon Dragon Fruit" (bright pink), "Tree Grove" (olive), and more.
Price at time of publish: $45
Material: 55% flax linen, 45% rayon | Size Range: XXS–XXL | Colors: Tree Grove, Black, White Stripe, Maverick Tan +more | Care: Machine wash
J.Crew Slim-Fit Irish Linen Shirt
Volpe is also a proponent of J.Crew, explaining that the brand’s linen is great for “exceptional basics,” adding that they “often come in fun bright colorways and simple prints that can add a little extra spice to your summer wardrobe.” The Irish Linen Shirt is made from 100% linen for a breezy fit, has a tailored-yet-casual silhouette, and boasts a variety of hues spanning across the color spectrum. Plus, the top comes in an expansive size range with petite, classic, and tall options.
Price at time of publish: $98
Material: 100% linen | Size Range: 000–24 with additional petite and tall sizes | Colors: Washed Melon, French Blue, Deep Chocolate +more | Care: Machine wash
Victoria's Secret Swim Linen Boyfriend Shirt Dress
Whether you're headed to the beach or a laid-back Sunday brunch, this Victoria's Secret button-down will have you looking and feeling your best. You can wear the button-down shirt with a relaxed collar over your swimwear or a tank top and shorts. The blended linen shirt is available in classic black and white, or you can switch things up and rock the brand's more daring lime and periwinkle options.
Price at time of publish: $60
Material: 45% cotton, 31% flax, 24% lyocell | Size Range: XS–XXL | Colors: Lime Citron, Shadow, White +more | Care: Hand wash
L.L. Bean Women's Premium Washable Linen Shirt
You can't go wrong with a classic piece like L.L. Bean's linen tunic. It was made with relaxation and comfort in mind, apropos of a gentle shape that drapes the body. The button-down accommodates all body types, including petite, regular, and plus-size figures. Also, its crisp style is made from sustainable, premium-grade European flax.
Price at time of publish: $60
Material: 100% linen | Size Range: XS–XL with additional petite and tall sizes | Colors: Cool Blue, Ledge, Shell Pink +more | Care: Machine wash and dry
Aritzia Wilfred Free Relaxed Linen Shirt
Dress up your classic style with this stunning Aritzia Wilfred Free Relaxed Linen Shirt. Try a sophisticated look by adding a silk skirt for the evening, or wear it with neutral-colored trousers during the day. We're confident that this linen number will be a summer favorite, courtesy of its wide range of colors, stripes, and cuts available.
Price at time of publish: $88
Material: 55% linen, 45% Lenzing™ Ecovero™ viscose | Size Range: 2XS–2XL | Colors: Morganite Pink, Azurine Blue, Copper Red +more | Care: Machine wash
For a goes-with-anything linen shirt that is sure to become a summertime staple, we’re turning to The Linen Relaxed Shirt from Everlane. The breezy fit coupled with its lightweight fabric makes the top a go-to essential for warm days into cool summertime nights. Plus, it comes in various colors and patterns, so you’re sure to find one that matches your favorite pair of trousers and sandals.
Meet the Expert
Chelsea Volpe is a fashion stylist based in New York City. She has worked with La Mer, Revlon, Highsnobiety, Hypebeast, Vogue, and WWD.
What to Look for in Linen Shirts
There is no specific way a linen shirt should fit, but opting for a looser style is a good idea during the warmer months. An oversized silhouette provides maximum breathability in warm weather and the fabric won’t cling to the body. Plus, that larger style will double as a great layering piece during the colder weather.
Linen has a looser weave and is a cooler fabric, providing more airflow to release hot air and improve breathability for the body. It also has top-tier moisture-absorbing properties, so it’s ideal for days filled with water and sweat. Some linen tops feature a blend of other fabrics like nylon or cotton for more stretch or a more structured fit. Make sure to read the label to ensure the top is composed of your desired material.
What is the difference between cotton and linen?
Linen is derived from flax seed versus the cotton plant. This essentially means that it’s more durable and has better moisture-wicking capabilities than its cotton counterpart.
“Cotton is derived from the cotton plant, is highly breathable, lighter weight (due to a lower thread count), and is extremely absorbent as well,” Volpe explains. “Although cotton is absorbent, it does not share the moisture-wicking ability like linen, so it can take longer to dry.”
Can you wear linen shirts in the winter?
“Linen is heavier weight and has a thicker fiber count than cotton making it easily wearable in the winter months if paired sensibly with other weather-appropriate wardrobe items,” says Volpe. “Linen is also notably a temperature regulating fabric, meaning it helps you stay cool in the high heat summer months and cozy, comfy, and warm during the frigid winter.”
Can you put linen shirts in the washing machine?
“Check your item's care label prior to washing [it], but most linens can be machine washed safely if you follow certain instructions,” Volpe says. She recommends a mild detergent, a low temperature, and turning the garment inside out to keep the material in the best shape.
However, one downside is that linens become softer with each washing cycle, she points out. Hand washing is a safe alternative to maintain the fabric’s quality and durability.
Why Trust Byrdie
Jasmine Hyman is a commerce writer and producer for Dotdash Meredith’s beauty and travel publications. Her work has appeared in outlets including InStyle, People, Brides, and more. For this article, she spent hours researching the best linen tops and consulted expert stylist Chelsea Volpe for her insight.