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How to Wear Linen Without Looking Like A Sack

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Photo: Garmentory

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Fashionable shoppers have finally learned what Eileen Fisher — and frequent travelers to the tropics — have known all along: Linen helps you live your best summer life.

Made from the linseed (or flax) plant, this natural fiber is lightweight, highly absorbent, and breathes well, all qualities that keep your skin cool in hot weather. Thankfully, the ancient material is undergoing something of a fashion renaissance — blame it on a new emphasis in eco-friendly clothing, the undeniable ease of the bag dress, or designers borrowing inspiration from grandma’s closet; it's everywhere.

So, how to wear the wrinkle-prone, often naturally-dyed fabric, without looking like you’re literally dressed in a burlap sack?

Take a cue from Acne or Junya Watanabe and choose a bright color instead of the fabric's traditional neutrals.

Ann Taylor and Tibi both turned usually slouchy linen into polished looks that will make warm weather office dressing extra easy. Or you could just take the leap and embrace the sack. Pick up a loose-fitting linen jumpsuit or roomy dress from artsy girl favorites Ilana Kohn or Rachel Comey, pair it with this season's slides or high heel clogs, and you'll never look at your denim cut offs again.

Rachel Comey top and pants Photo: Rachel Comey
Rachel Comey has quite a few great linen pieces this season (there's a whole page dedicated to the fabric on the brand's website). Our favorite is this great top and pant combo, which can be worn together as a set or paired with other items in your closet. Rachel Comey Phelan top, $299; and Wayward pant, $391

Ilana Kohn Alexis dress Photo: Garmentory
What feels more feminine than white linen? What's more, this textured, wear-anywhere dress is a blank canvas for statement jewelry. Ilana Kohn Alexis dress, $278

Zara embroidered linen top Photo: Zara
Pair Zara's embroidered, sheer linen blouse with denim shorts for a boho feel, or tailored black pants for a more elegant look. Zara embroidered linen top, $69.90

Acne Studios Kent linen denim skirt Photo: Acne Studios
Stockholm-based designer Acne Studios has a whole collection of linen pieces worth exploring at the moment (including a great tee for $140), but this structured linen-denim skirt, constructed to look inside-out with contrasting piping, is a stand out. Acne Studios Kent linen denim skirt, $800

Junya Watanabe oversized embroidered linen shirt dress Photo: Net-A-Porter
This slightly sheer, oversized, embroidered yellow shirt dress with a different take on the princess sleeve mixes practicality with fun. Junya Watanabe oversized embroidered linen shirt dress, $1,120

James Perse short linen culottes Photo: James Perse
In case you haven't noticed, culottes are everywhere at the moment too — so why not double down and pick up a pair in breezy linen? James Perse short linen culottes, $195

Native Youth linen strip swing dress Photo: Urban Outfitters
A high neck dress with a swing shape in a pajama-esque striped linen is a great choice for summer weekends. The fact that Urban Outfitters is running a 20% off all dresses promotion makes it that much more appealing. Native Youth linen strip swing dress, $70

Tibi Annelie vest Photo: Tibi
Tibi's loose-fitting white vest feels like an updated, feminine take on a men's linen suit. Wear it over a white dress or white linen pants for a monochrome look, or over jeans and a tee for a more relaxed vibe. Tibi Annelie linen vest, $495
69 Minimal overalls Photo: Opening Ceremony
Los Angeles–based unisex label 69 has a number of comfy-looking summer options, but the brand's laid back, cropped black overall is the piece we most want to add to our closets. 69 Minimal overalls, $460
Ann Taylor linen button skirt Photo: Ann Taylor
Paired with a white blouse for the office or a crochet top for the weekend, Ann Taylor's button down skirt adds an elegant, streamlined look to your outfit. Ann Taylor linen button skirt, $89

Drawstring Linen Shorts Photo: Forever 21
Drawstring, linen-blend shorts are the best thing to pull on for heading to the beach, running errands, or hanging around the house on Sundays. Forever 21 linen drawstring shorts, $17.90
Ichi striped linen dolman pullover Photo: Steven Alan
A boxy, 100% linen top from Japanese label Ichi is great for summer layering — wear it over a dress, under a jumpsuit, or around your waist with jeans or shorts. Ichi striped linen dolman pullover, $125

First Rite Sundress Photo: First Rite
This double spaghetti strap dress from First Rite's (also available in black and white, as shown above) will probably get the most use out of anything in your closet this summer. First Rite sun dress, $264