Do Linen Shirts Keep You Cool? The Definitive Answer

If you are a longtime reader of this website then you would probably know about my longtime love for linen shirts. They are light and breathable, and have a unique texture that makes them stand out in a sea of people wearing cotton shirts.

But what about the factor that the linen fabric is most known for – Its ability to stay cool. In this guide, I will examine the “coolness” (pun not intended) of linen shirts, and I will try to compare them with other similar fabrics such as cotton.

If you read till the end, you would have a clear idea about what you can expect from linen shirts in terms of how cool they keep you.

Are Linen Shirts Cool?

linen shirt

Linen shirts keep you cool by wicking away the sweat and moisture from your skin pretty quickly. They are also extremely breathable and light, and thus ensure that your body does not overheat itself.

In my experience, linen is probably the best material for the summer. No matter how many pieces I try on, there is no other shirt that can make me feel cooler than a linen shirt.

Also, 100% linen, or “pure linen” shirts, are even better at keeping you cool. The reason for this is that pure linen does not have any stretch whatsoever.

This means that the fabric does not stick to your body at all, and there is a good airflow between your skin and the surface of the shirt.

Cooler Than Cotton

Linen shirts are cooler than cotton shirts. Linen manages to absorb and wick away sweat much faster than cotton, and thus allows you to stay cooler for longer.

Lightweight cotton shirts are also great, but they have a couple of problems. First of all, they get wet pretty easily. Which means sweaty pits for extended durations.

Secondly, they are prone to sticking to the body when wet. This further increases the sweat and irritation levels, and in extreme cases, it can also cause skin problems.

Linen solves both these issues due to its stiffness and moisture-wicking abilities. It also performs much better than cotton in terms of durability, and thus, I can easily say that linen shirts are better than cotton shirts for hot temperatures.


Linen shirts are extremely breathable because of the unique structure of linen fibers. The fibers of linen are hollow in nature, and thus allow proper ventilation to happen.

The breathability of a garment basically refers to two things. First, the ability of perspiration and heat to go out. And second, the ability of cooler air to come in. Linen shirts excel in both these departments.

Since linen is a moisture-wicking material, the sweat that is generated by our body does not stay on the shirt for too long; it gets evaporated quickly. This feeling of evaporation is what causes us to feel cool and light on a hot afternoon.

does linen show sweat?

Linen is a breathable fabric and can absorb moisture, including sweat, relatively well. However, because linen is a natural fiber and is not as tightly woven as synthetic fabrics, it may be more susceptible to showing sweat stains.

Also, because linen is a light-colored fabric, sweat stains can be more visible on it than on darker-colored fabrics.

Linen clothing may also wrinkle easily, this could show the sweat marks even more.

If you are concerned about sweat stains, you can take some precautions when wearing linen clothing, such as using sweat-proof undergarments, using antiperspirant, and carrying an extra shirt or blouse with you in case you need to change.

It’s worth noting that some higher-end linen clothes are treated with special finish to reduce wrinkle and stain, so it may depends on the type of linen you have

Are Linen Shirts Good For The Summer?

Linen shirts keep you cool and thus they are absolutely great for the summer season. If you live in any area that experiences harsh summers, then linen shirts are practically a necessity for your wardrobe.

Due to their lightness, you can also pair them with other clothes and thus go for a layered look. Layering is next to impossible in the summers, yet linen shirts allow you to do that. If you don’t know how to layer a linen shirt without melting in the heat, simply throw it over a white tank top. It’s bound to look good.

Besides this, linen has a unique texture that helps in making your outfit three-dimensional. There are some other fabrics that do that (an example being suede), but none of them are particularly great for the summer.

This does hamper the formality of a linen shirt, but in return, it also adds an extra “oomph” to your outfit.

Can Linen Shirts Be Worn In The Winter?

Linen shirts should never be worn in the winter season. The only exception to this rule is if you live in some place that tends to have very mild winters that don’t require a lot of layering. In this case, you can wear a linen shirt under a cardigan for a perfect winter look.

Unfortunately, all the properties that make linen such a great fabric for the summer, also make it absolutely useless in the winter. The breathability of the fabric allows cold air to come in, which can make you practically shiver under your shirt.

Linen shirts are extremely lightweight and do a terrible job when it comes to heat retention.

Although pure linen is a big no-no, there are a few blends that might help you survive the winters. But even then, you are probably fighting a losing battle.

Final Remarks

Linen shirts are excellent at keeping one cool in hotter temperatures. They manage to do this by their unique moisture-wicking properties, and their breathability and lightness also contribute to the “coolness”.

If you live somewhere like Texas or Arizona, I can’t recommend linen shirts enough for you.