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
J.Crew: Relaxed And Classic
Gap: Softer And Slouchy
Jenni Kayne: High Quality Linen
Straight-Leg And Tapered Styles
Athleta: Sleek Linen Joggers
Free People: Colorful And Printed
J.Crew Factory: An Affordable Steal
Alex Mill: Tailored And Timeless
Ankle-Length Cropped Styles
Reformation: Vacation-Ready And Bold
Banana Republic: Lightweight For Hot Days
Athleta: Travel And Beach-Friendly
Quince: High Quality Linen Without The Markup
How To Choose The Best Linen Pants
- 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.