5 white linen dresses for keeps
The elegance of white linen
As one of the oldest fibres, linen sure has a long list of reasons to commend it:-
It’s a natural fibre, so it breathes when worn; it can be washed in cold water by hand or gentle machine (so it doesn’t need dry cleaning); it’s made from flax, which can be grown with minimal water & pretty much without pesticides (unlike conventional cotton); it feels incredible against bare skin; it’s cool in summer and warm in winter; it’s incredibly elegant.
And maybe best of all? It’s a fabric that gets better and better with wear, so garments made from quality linen will last for years if not decades.
At the end of its generous lifetime of service, linen is biodegradable and recyclable.
(But honestly, it takes ages to wear out linen clothing, which is why vintage linen is so sought after in rural French markets - it simply gets softer with age.)
Our favourite linen comes from Europe, and is made from flax that is grown there & woven into fabric using traditional methods. While organic European linen is even better (from an environmental perspective) it’s worth noting that the flax plant isn’t particularly yummy to many insects, so the majority of flax grown in Europe has little, or no, pesticides applied to it during growth or harvest.
Applying for organic certification is an expensive process, and for many farmers the cost is out of reach. Additionally, flax plants will grow in a wide variety of soils without irrigation & every part of the plant is used to make linen - another positive tick. Linen responds to simple plant dyes very well, without the need for heavily produced synthetic dyes.
So, from an environmental standpoint, selecting European linen is a pretty darn good choice for clothing - & better than selecting synthetic fibres or even conventionally farmed cotton.
Belgian Linen or Belgian Flax Linen? What’s the difference?
Belgian Linen is made in Belgium from flax which is grown in Belgium - so it’s grown, spun into fibre and woven into linen within the same country. (Same applies for any other European country such as Belarose Linen, French Linen, Portugese Linen, etc. If it’s labelled “European Linen”, it may have been grown in one country and processed in another - but the whole process has occured in Europe.)
So what’s Belgian or European Flax Linen then? It’s a clever way of making it sound expensive, by using flax which has been grown in Europe, but then weaving it in other countries (mostly China & India) to reduce costs. Depending on the quality control, that may be all very well, and of course it’s the consumer’s choice - but I think it’s a little sneaky because at first glance it is misleading.
(Cheaper linens sourced from other countries can have formaldehyde added during the processing - so it’s always good to check the country of manufacture, as well as the certification. Once armed with this knowledge, it’s then up to the consumer to select based on what’s important to them.)
The quintessential White Linen Dress - 5 suggestions.
Ok, so I promised you 5 beautiful white linen dresses that will be treasures for many, many years - so here they are! All hand-made from European linen. (Oh, and the best part: they are all via Etsy, so you can order them to suit your exact size, whilst supporting small business.)
1: White Linen Wrap dress with Pockets by Merces - Ukraine.
With a scoop neckline and a pleated wrap that is part bodice and part belt,
I love the sculptural lines of this little white dress,
which gives it a tailored line.
Made from organic linen, it has 2 pockets and is knee length.
Made to order, so you can adjust the size to suit.
2: Wrap around white linen dress by Pavietra - Belarus.
Sewn in Belarus from organic fabric that’s locally grown & made,
this wrap around style can be adjusted to be looser or tighter
to suit the wearer.
It has a classic A line skirt, which is flattering to most body types.
3: White linen wrap dress from NichStore - Ukraine.
Made from Ukrainian organic linen, this classic wrap style dress has a generous belt
which wraps around from front to back, accentuating the folds of the fabric.
High neckline and long sleeves makes it perfect for a day in the sun,
as the fabric provides natural protection from sunburn
(and sometimes, it’s nice not to have to put on sunscreen!).
With the addition of a large, shady straw hat and some strappy sandals,
this is cool elegance in the summer sun.
4: High collar linen dress by Linenfox - Lithuania.
With an unusual turtleneck, this slim shift-style dress has a touch
of the 1960s about it.
Made in Lithuania from Oeko-Tex certified local linen,
the fabric is medium-weight (185 gm) which
suits the structured cut.
5: Limona Dress by Linen Fox
For something with a little ruffle,
try this white linen dress with ruffled oversized sleeves.
Made from Oeko-Certified Lithuanian linen,
the Limona has a self tie which you can wear at the front or back of the dress.