11 Best Men's Linen Shirts 2024, Tested and Reviewed by GQ

When it comes to drying your linen shirts, au natural is the best option. Preferably laid flat or hung on a line, which might sound cumbersome, but (!) one of linen’s charms is its quick-drying nature, making the process far quicker than, say, air-drying a pair of jeans. Also, don’t wring out your linen clothing when it is wet—wrinkled is good, pruned is less appealing. This all might sound a little more involved from a care perspective than, say, your trusty oxford, but know that ROI is well worth it.

Your Linen FAQs, Answered

Why is linen better for hotter weather?

Both the weave and the physical properties of the fibers: when the individual linen fibers get hot, they expand, allowing for more airflow. They also have a slightly rougher texture and a dryer hand, which keeps them from clinging to sweaty skin the way cotton does—a combination that also makes for a fabric that dries much faster. For all those reason, folks have relied on linen to beat the heat for thousands of years, and still haven’t found many replacements.

Can you really wear linen all year?

Absolutely. Long-sleeve linen shirts will keep you sufficiently warm through light-jacket weather so long as it’s not too blustery. And just as a linen shirt will get more airy the warmer it gets, it also contracts in the cold, which means that the same properties that keep you cool in the summer will also help you when it cools down. From a dress code perspective, linen shirts are on the more casual end of the spectrum, unless they’re teamed up with a suit or blazer (or you’re living in a humidity hotspot like Miami or New Orleans).

Linen-blend shirts, which weave in cotton, trade a little breathability for added crispness and breeze-blocking. Though in chillier weather, the best linen shirts can turn into underrated layering heroes, too, under a thick sweater or cardigan. If you run hot even in the colder months, swapping a linen shirt for a denser, less-breathable cotton shirt might make life more bearable.

Does linen shrink?

The short answer: yes, at least a little bit. Or it will, if you treat it like a T-shirt. That being said, if you wash it on cold and line-dry your shirts, they should maintain their original dimensions for as long as you do (it’ll air-dry faster than most clothing will, too). If you accidentally put it in the dryer, linen tends to shrink slightly both horizontally and vertically, depending on the weave, but a bit less than cotton, because its fibers are less naturally elastic.

Can you iron linen?

Again, the short answer is yes. But be super careful if you feel like rejecting the natural wrinkles—again, we recommend leaning into ’em. If you’re ironing a linen shirt, make sure it’s damp, for starters. Linen is very sturdy, and the moisture will soften the fibers a bit. Also make sure you have a pressing cloth between the iron and the fabric, and a solid ironing board underneath.

What We Looked For

The GQ office is just as varied in body type, stylistic preference, and budget as the rest of the world; if you polled our colleagues, you’d be hard-pressed to land on a single winning shirt in any category. By and large, though, we gauged the merits of each shirt we tested across three key metrics: quality, fit, and price.

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