Shades of Linen

‘Linen suits are perfect for hot summer days. Of course, light wool wears better, but linen is more comfortable; putting it on relaxes you instantly and lifts your mood above the stifling heat. Linen can also be rather more versatile than commonly thought, and when used in non-typical ways can look fantastic. I remember reading an interview with Luciano Barbera in which he said that he likes to wear a jacket of heavy linen in winter with grey flannels, turning the usual practice around completely. I also like the idea of very dark linen suits, because they too go against the grain of the common image of the cream linen suit. 

‘When visiting Kiton for the first time in 1999, their German distributor Harry Breidt picked me up at the airport wearing a chocolate-brown linen suit, which, he explained, he loved but had never worn until that day. I thought it looked fantastic, but given the strength of the association of linen with lighter colours, I understood his reluctance to have given it more mileage. Many years later I saw a black linen dinner suit for the first time, and it affected me similarly; I was fascinated.

‘Black suits in general form a marginal part of classical wardrobe, being as they are reserved for evening wear and funerals. Nevertheless, a black linen suit, deployed with aplomb, can create a timeless look. One imagines it effortlessly: a scene from a ’60s French film, a mafia funeral, Alain Delon in a black linen suit, a short shirt, and a narrow black tie.

‘I’d readily wear a black linen suit for an event in summer, when the dress code says, ‘Come as you are’, with a white Giro Inglese shirt, a black knitted tie, and black slip-ons. On a very hot day, I might even go dressed completely in black, with a black Smedley polo worn underneath.’

–Bernhard Roetzel, Guest Valet