Linen is something of a wonder fabric. Made from the flax plant, it’s extremely strong and lightweight. Its versatility has made linen a cherished staple for tablecloths, towels and bedding for centuries. Fun fact: The term “linens” is now synonymous with those domestic items, even if they’re not actually made from linen. In the fashion world, linen is a sartorial superstar, especially in hot weather.
Like cotton, linen is eco-friendly and natural. But linen is sturdier—the flax plant is tough and, once harvested, it needs to be stored for long periods to soften up the fibers. After that point, flax linen can last a remarkably long time; up to 30 years (cotton, by contrast, has a lifespan of five years). Linen is particularly great in steamy, humid weather since it has water-wicking properties, which draw sweat off the skin, and it dries quickly. Flax fibers are also hallow, which allow air to pass through, creating a beautifully breathable fabric.
Although you can pull on linen year-round, it’s an obvious choice for summer pieces—notably, breezy pants, which are fluid and easy to wear on sweltering days. If you’re in the market for new options, a few shopping pointers to keep in mind: Linen is more expensive than cotton, given its durability and the craft that goes into creating it, but you don’t need to spend a fortune. Linen blends, for example, tend to be more affordable, and it’s also wise to invest in styles that will hold up well and become classics in your wardrobe. Here, 13 of the best linen pants to shop this summer.
Wide-Leg And Draped Styles
Madewell: Pleated And Chic
Why they’re great: These pants are loose but also tailored so they don’t overwhelm you. Reviewers praise the flattering, comfortable fit and ultra-breathable cotton-linen blend. Key criticism: Since these pants are extremely popular, inventory might be limited—the petite and tall sizes are sold out. Other options: These pants come in three colors. Check here for other linen pants in more colors, lengths and fits.
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Why they’re great: This long and loose style has a glamorous, ‘70s silhouette that’s great for everyday but also dressier occasions. The pants come in a standard and petite lengths. Key criticism: Not everyone loves pleats, which create a more voluminous look. You can pair with a cropped, more fitted top to balance out the proportions, though, or consider straight leg styles instead. Other options: This style also come in white. Check here for more of the brand’s linen pants.
J.Crew: Relaxed And Classic
Why they’re great: These bestselling pants get top marks on fit and quality. They’re loose but not sloppy thanks to the drawstring waist, and the non-see-through linen comes in six versatile colors; you can also find tall, petite and standard lengths. Key criticism: Some colors have sold out, so sizing is limited in certain shades. Other options:Check here for more of the brand’s linen pants.
Gap: Softer And Slouchy
Why they’re great: These pants are blended with a linen-rayon weave, which gives them a less rigid silhouette with more movement than a traditional linen. They’re cut with a high waist and flared leg for comfortable ease. Key criticism: If you like a more structured pant, you might find these too flowy. Other options: These pants come in three neutral colors. Check here for more of the brand’s linen pants.
Jenni Kayne: High Quality Linen
Why they’re great: These pajama-style pants are cut from 100% linen and hold up well over time, which makes them a wardrobe classic. While they’re technically sleepwear the style is versatile enough to wear anytime. Key criticism: The brand recommends dry cleaning, not machine washing these pants. Other options: This style also comes in an ivory white shade. Check here for other breezy linen pieces from Jenni Kayne.
Straight-Leg And Tapered Styles
Athleta: Sleek Linen Joggers
Why they’re great: If you prefer a more tailored look for your linen, these jogger-inspired pants are gathered at the ankle and have a slimmer leg. They come in regular, tall and petite lengths. Key criticism: The pockets are zippered, which can feel bulky against the smooth linen. Other options: They’re available in four shades (including a peach that’s currently on sale). Check here for more linen pants to consider in different styles, lengths and fits.
Free People: Colorful And Printed
Why they’re great: The linen blend is loose and airy while the silhouette is tailored with pleats and a buttoned waist, which creates an interesting masculine-feminine contrast. The fabric is woven to create a graphic print as well. Key criticism: These only come in one length, with a 30-inch inseam, which can be hard if you’re not tall. Other options: You can shop them in a cream-colored shade as well. Check here for more of the brand’s linen pants.
J.Crew Factory: An Affordable Steal
Why they’re great: You can dress up or down these drawstring pants, which have a cuffed hem that shows off your ankle for a flattering effect. The leg is loose but not too baggy. Key criticism: Some reviewers say the white color is transparent. Other options: These pants come in six colors (the darker tones are more likely to be non-transparent); check here to see the brand’s other affordable linen styles.
Alex Mill: Tailored And Timeless
Why they’re great: These linen blend pants are work-friendly, comfortable and well-fitting. They’re garment dyed through a process that adds rich pigment and prevents transparency. Key criticism: The white color had low inventory at the time of publishing. Other options: These pants come in four colors. Check here for more linen options from Alex Mill.
Ankle-Length Cropped Styles
Reformation: Vacation-Ready And Bold
Why they’re great: The cropped wide-leg style is cool on hot days and has a flattering fit for a variety of body types. The pink color punches up your summer wardrobe and pairs well with other neutral-toned pieces. Key criticism: The low inventory—some sizes have sold out already. Other options: These pants come in two colors. Check here for more of Reformation’s linen pants.
Banana Republic: Lightweight For Hot Days
Why they’re great: These pants are cut from a blend of linen, breathable cotton and lyocell, a sustainably sourced fiber that adds a flowy drape to the style. On hot and humid days, this weave prevents that sticky feeling and doesn’t wrinkle easily. Key criticism: Some reviewers found that inseam sizing varies. Other options: This style is available in three colors. Check here to see the brand’s linen shop, with a variety of pants, shorts, shirts and dresses.
Athleta: Travel And Beach-Friendly
Why they’re great: These relaxed, wide-leg pants hit above the ankle for added breathability and versatility when walking and traveling. The pull-on waistband makes them easy to slip on for days spent in the city or at the beach. Key criticism: They run slightly big. Other options: This style comes in three colors. Check here for more linen pants in different colors and fits from the brand.
Quince: High Quality Linen Without The Markup
Why they’re great: Direct-to-consumer brand Quince is known for carrying luxurious fabrics at affordable price points. These 100% washable pants are cut from European linen and have handy pockets (two in front pockets, one in back). Key criticism: The sizes go up to XL but as of yet, the brand doesn’t carry plus-sizes in this style. Other options: These pants come in five colors. Check here to see the brand’s linen shop, which includes pants, shorts, shirts and shirtdresses.
How To Choose The Best Linen Pants
We consulted fashion stylists Audree Lopez and McKenzie Crouch for the skinny on all things linen. Before deciding on your perfect pair, keep these important facts in mind.
Material: Unlike some synthetic fabrics,linen is ultra-breathable, which makes it a popular choice during the summer months. “Linen is super soft and lightweight. It is made from natural fibers, and it is surprisingly long lasting,” finds Lopez.
Sizing: “Linen fabrics tend to grow with each wear, which means that over time, your pants will stretch out a bit,” says Crouch. “In order to prevent this, a good rule of thumb is to size down for a more snug fit.”
Price: Linen is a natural, sturdy fabric that requires a longer time to craft than other materials, which elevates the prices, but also makes it worth spending a little more on. That being said, there are more affordable linen blends, which mix linen with cotton, for example. If you choose to invest, keep in mind that linen can be worn year-round, not just in summer, and it’s a look that never truly goes out of style. Before Lopez splurges on anything, she asks herself these questions: Will this be a staple item in my closet and can I wear this item in multiple situations? If yes, then it’s a worthy item to spend on.
Frequently Asked Questions About Linen Pants
How can you tell the quality of linen pants when shopping online?
“The most important thing to keep in mind when buying linen is the fabric’s transparency,” says fashion stylist McKenzie Crouch. “Linen is naturally sheerer than a traditional cotton fabric, so you want to make sure that you are wearing a linen style that isn’t too see-through.” Check for review photos and zoom in on the brand’s images to examine them close up. Pants that are made from 100% linen tend to be less transparent than linen blends, so also consider the garment’s composition. Crouch adds this final tip: “Make sure you wear the appropriate undergarments, such as white or nude panties,” which helps you avoid revealing more than you intend to.
How do you keep linen pants in good shape?
Crouch recommends doing a pre-wash with mild detergent on a cold cycle before wearing new linen pants since this can help prevent future shrinking. Once you’ve worn your pants, fashion stylist Audree Lopez offers this advice: “A good guideline is to wash in cold water on a gentle cycle and air dry,” she says. But, of course, always look at the care instructions on your tag—this helps ensure you don’t unintentionally damage the fabric. Since linen is a delicate, it’s best not to wash in hot water or throw into the dryer on high heat. If you want a smooth, pressed look, Lopez says, “I suggest steaming or using a wrinkle release spray versus a hot iron.”
If you have a stain you need to remove? Pre-treat it before washing the pants or consider taking them to the dry cleaners quickly, before the stain has a chance to set in, advises Lopez.