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How To Wear A Linen Shirt With A Suit

Linen shirts are typically associated with more casual wear than formal wear. This begs the question, can you wear a linen shirt with a suit?

Wearing a linen shirt with a suit is possible if done the right way. You should color-match it with your suit correctly and ensure it fits well. Avoid wearing a linen shirt with a suit when the dress code is very formal, such as at black-tie and white-tie events.

While that’s the gist, there’s much more to explore on this topic.

So, let’s get to it.

6 Tips For Wearing A Linen Shirt With A Suit

Here are some straightforward, no-nonsense tips about wearing a linen shirt with a suit.

1. Consider The Formality

The formality of the situation is a very important factor to consider when wearing a linen shirt with a suit.

linen shirt with light brown suit
Image From Deposit Photos

This is because linen shirts are typically associated with more casual occasions due their wrinkly and textured appearance. 

Therefore, combining a suit with a linen shirt can lead to a slight formality difference between the two items. 

However, contrast can be a great way to add some personality and flair to your outfit in less formal situations, meaning that the slight formality mismatch can work in your favor.

Typically, wearing a linen shirt with a suit is appropriate for any event up to and including a business-casual dress code. 

For anything of greater formality, you’re better off sticking to the traditional, more conservative shirt fabrics such as cotton. 

2. Go For A More Casual Suit

Going for a formal-looking, shiny worsted wool suit is a bad idea when wearing a typically casual linen suit. 

linen shirt with brown suit
Image From Deposit Photos

Instead, choose a suit that looks casual enough to pair well with the linen shirt. 

Common features of “casual” suits include:

  • Possible patterned
  • A less structured jacket, often with a lighter lining. 
  • Fabric that’s less shiny and more wrinkly. For example, linen, cotton, tweed, flannel. 
  • The suit pants often don’t have a break and reach the ankles without wrinkling.
  • The jacket shoulders often look more relaxed with less padding

3. Color-Match With Your Suit

Color-matching your linen shirt with your suit is essential to successfully pull off this combination.

However, if you’re ever in doubt about what color linen shirt to wear with your suit, a white or light blue linen shirt will look fantastic alongside pretty much any suit.

Because of the unusual texture of linen, it’s important to pick the right shirt color to avoid appearing flamboyant.

Knowledge of the color wheel can be a great help in picking the best-colored shirt for your suit.

This is because the color wheel demonstrates the relationships between colors.

Due to this, it can also tell which colors go well together, and which should generally be avoided.

As a general rule, colors that are near to one another on the color wheel work well together – these are called analogous colors.

Color wheel
Image From Deposit Photos

Conversely, colors that are opposite to each other on the color wheel can look good together. These colors are called complementary colors.

Here are some examples of linen shirt colors and suits that go well together.

Suit ColorIdeal Linen Shirt Color
Navy Blue SuitLight blue linen shirt
Charcoal GreyLight blue or white linen shirt
Light GreyWhite or light pink linen shirt
BlackWhite linen shirt

Charcoal grey, light grey, and black are all neutral colors meaning that they pair with most things.

Having said that, however, the easiest color to pair them with is white. 

4. Ensure Both Fit Well

When wearing any outfit, it’s important to ensure that the clothes fit well.

Well-fitted clothing can elevate an outfit to the next level of looking good which is particularly important for semi-formal or greater occasions. Both your shirt and suit should fit well.

linen shirt with light grey suit
Image From Deposit Photos

The best shirts are snug but comfortable; they should never restrict your movement. They should also conform nicely to the shape of your body.

There are several factors to take into account when checking if your suit fits well:

  • Your suit jacket is the correct length if the bottom of it sits around knuckle level (when your arms are straight down by your sides).
  • The shoulder seam of your jacket should be at the edge of your shoulder – where it begins to slope down to your arm. They should be smooth and flat.
  • When standing with your arms by your side, the sleeves of your suit jacket should reach around the place where the base of your thumb meets your wrist.
  • Your suit pants should have a tailored look, without looking or feeling too tight; they should be slim. 
  • If your suit pants are too short, it’s pretty easy to tell.
  • Pants that are too long will have bunching around the bottom. 

Going to a tailor can be a huge help in getting a suit or shirt that fits. They are able to adjust your clothes as required. 

However, some adjustments are more difficult, and, therefore, more costly than others.

Ensuring that both your shirt and suit are well-fitted is crucial to appropriate attire for semi-formal, business-formal, or formal events.

5. Accessorize

Accessories can be a great way to add a touch of flair to your outfit. And this is usually appropriate on semi-formal occasions.

There are several types of accessories that can be considered, ranging from watches to cufflinks; from belts to scarves.

Additionally, the appropriate accessory style varies depending on a few factors, including the formality of the situation and the weather.

Cufflinks are arguably the most formal accessory mentioned and are suitable primarily for situations of a higher formality.

They can further dress up your linen shirt and suit while also adding some personality to the outfit.

If wearing a watch with your linen shirt and suit, go for a dress watch with a black or brown leather strap.

The same rule applies to belts: black or brown leather formal belts work best with this outfit.

Scarves can be an option too if the weather is cooler. 

To avoid going overboard with accessories, you should stick to one or two – any more than that might be excessive.

6. It Excels In Warm Weather

While wearing a linen shirt all year round is acceptable, linen truly excels during warm weather.

This is because linen is a light, breathable fabric that has the ability to keep you cool even when it’s hot.

On top of this, it’s fantastic for absorbing moisture and keeping you dry, even when you may be sweating.

When wearing a suit, you can get warm very quickly. Wearing a linen shirt rather than a cotton shirt, for example, is a great way to reduce this additional warmth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about wearing a linen shirt with a suit.

Can You Wear A Linen Shirt With Suit Pants?

You should avoid wearing a linen shirt with suit pants. Suit pants should always be worn with a matching suit jacket, so wearing them alongside a linen shirt could look awkward and make the outfit appear incomplete.

When wearing suit pants, you should ensure they are worn with a matching suit jacket. 

Otherwise, you risk wearing an outfit that appears unfinished. 

Can You Wear A Linen Shirt With A Wool Suit?

It is possible to wear a linen shirt with a wool suit, but you should be careful when doing so. Linen and wool both have quite a distinctive appearance in terms of texture, with linen being wrinkly and wool being wrinkle-resistant. It’s possible that the two items might clash. 

Both linen and wool have distinctive textures, so it’s important to aim for a suit or shirt that looks minimally textured to avoid a clash in appearance.

The shiny, wrinkle-resistant texture of wool and the relatively wrinkly texture of the linen shirt might conflict. Bear this in mind when making your decision. 

Conclusion

You’re now equipped with the knowledge needed to look good wearing a linen shirt with a suit every time.

Enjoy.