Linen vs. Cotton Shirts: 4 Key Differences

It’s almost summertime, which means your closet is about to see some changes. The best part about switching your closet from winter mode to a more spring- or summer-minded collection is getting to switch to different pieces, styles and materials that remind you of the season. For the colder months, this might include cashmere, wool, thick denim and other materials like leather or suede. As the months get warmer, though, chances are you favor thinner, more breathable fabrics like chambray, cotton, linen and an array of synthetic blends. For shirts in particular, many guys tend to wear linen or cotton shirts with their summer outfits and men’s swim trunks, but what’s the difference  between the two? 

maxwell ss navy


1. They’re Made from Different Plants: The first key point in understanding the difference between cotton and linen shirts is knowing what kind of fibers make up their fabrics. Men’s linen shirts are made using natural linen fibers from the stalk of a flax plant. The production of linen is a very old practice, and many have reason to believe it began as far back as ancient Egyptian times. On the other hand, cotton grows from — you guessed it — the cotton plant. If you’ve ever seen cotton before it has been harvested, it looks like a white fluff emerging from the seeds of the cotton plant before it’s turned into fabric. 

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2. They Feel Different: If you’ve previously worn both linen and cotton shirts, you know they’re both good for summer wear. While cotton is lightweight and breathable, a linen shirt elevates a beach outfit for men even more because it’s extremely breathable and keeps you dry for longer.

Linen is woven using a loose stitching method, which allows more air to pass through than cotton. For this reason, you might notice that your linen clothing wrinkles or creases easily. This is due to the small holes in between the fibers and occurs more commonly when the weaving or stitching in linen shirts is particularly loose. As an offset to the wrinkling you might expect from a linen shirt or pair of pants, you can count on the fabric to remain breathable and keep you from feeling sweaty or damp throughout the day. 

white linen button down shirt


3. Linen Will Last Longer: Linen is strong, and we’re talking really strong here. It’s a fabric that is made to be durable, which is why so many people believe it to be the superior summer fabric. The lightweight feel mixed with comfort and durability will make you want to invest in high-quality linen shirts to wear for years to come! 

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4. Some of It Is About Preference: If you’re a die-hard cotton shirt fan, there’s probably no stopping you now, and for good reason. Cotton shirts boast some pretty great qualities too. These include the ability to stretch and move any way your body moves during lounge sessions, a day on the town or even for a nap or good night’s sleep. Cotton shirts keep you comfortable all day or night long, and they serve as a staple in many closets during the summer months and all year round. 

At Le Club, we source our fabrics sustainably so you can feel good about your purchase. From organic cotton to swim trunks made from recycled plastic bottles, you can make a difference just by making a purchase.

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