Linen Trousers Etiquette

Updated February 21, 2017

When wearing linen trousers, rules need to be followed to make them acceptable. Linen trouser etiquette includes knowing the right occasion for linen clothing, what to pair it with and which undergarments should be worn. Made from flax plants, linen is moth-resistant, repels dirt and gets softer with each wash and air dry. Featuring a smooth texture, linen is good for allergy sufferers and is a classic fabric that is always in style.

What is Linen?

Linen is used in a variety of ways, such as furniture coverings, bed sheets and clothing. It is found just beyond the bark of the flax plant. To get the fibres from the plant, the woody stem and inner pith is rotted away by a process called retting. Water or chemicals are used to separate the fibres and are then washed away. The cellulose fibre from the stem is what is spin-able and used to make the linen.

Trouser Styles

Linen's lightweight fabric means it wears nicely in warm weather. Women's linen trousers come in styles ranging from drawstring and floor-length to elastic waistbands and capri-style. Colours run the gamut from dark to light, but white linen tends to be classic and popular among beachgoers and the casual workplace crowd. Trouser trousers for men come in flat-front and pleated, cuffed or straight leg and buttoned or drawstring, to name a few.

When and How Linen Trousers Are Worn

Linen is worn during the warmer months and often in the workplace because its breathable nature makes it comfortable for all-day wear. Women wear linen trousers with flat-style shoes or heals and often pair the trousers with a top made of other natural fibres such as wool, silk or cotton. Men opt for linen trousers as an alternative to cotton chinos, and usually sport a polo shirt and boat or slip-on shoes without socks. At a wedding or semi-formal event, linen trousers are acceptable when paired with a linen jacket; a tie is optional. Linen trousers are perfect for activities such as sightseeing, travelling or lounging.

Undergarments for Linen

Linen trousers are typically see-through. Women should wear nude-colour thong underwear or boy shorts so that underwear lines are not visible, while men need to consider the colour of the linen before choosing underwear. White underwear, for example, should never be worn under white linen trousers. A better option is a pair of beige, close-fitting boxer shorts. In addition, seamless undergarments work best.


Linen's natural fibres make the fabric stiff and therefore, when it bends, it easily leaves a wrinkle. While this is natural, too many wrinkles look messy. Hand-washing in cool water makes linen softer over time and dry cleaning linen trousers keeps the fabric looking crisp. Spread linen shirts on a towel to dry or put in the dryer on low. Hang immediately afterward. Linen does not need to be washed for freshness after every use, only when visibly dirty. Remove stains immediately by rubbing with cold water or rinsing with club soda and talcum powder.

bibliography-icon icon for annotation tool Cite this Article

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.