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The Aritzia Wilfred Only Linen Slip Dress is easy to slip into
Wardrobe staples, like well-fitted jeans or a pair of white sneakers, sit high on the list of items to have in your closet. While these non-negotiables look a little different for everyone, the premise is the same: They should be easy to wear and be versatile enough to serve as a base for a ton of different outfits. When temperatures rise and the idea of actually wearing clothes makes you want to hide inside forever, a breezy dress is key when you have to head outdoors. That’s where linen dresses come in.
Easy and effortless, linen dresses are a delight to move in — the material doesn’t stick to your body, and stands up against sweat, water, and the sun. What makes them even better is that the style options are pretty much endless. Because they’re airy and effortlessly chic, wearing a linen dress to the office feels just as right as wearing it to a backyard barbecue or out to a swanky dinner.
If you’ve ever tried navigating the sea of linen dresses, then you know it can be overwhelming. To help you out, I researched, reviewed, and tapped some of the industry’s top stylists to compile a list of the best linen dresses. Because it’s so easy to slip into and can work for almost every situation, the Wilfred Only Linen Slip Dress should be at the top of your list.
Here are the best linen dresses for an effortlessly chic outfit.
Aritzia Wilfred Only Linen Slip Dress
What We Love: The lingerie-like silhouette of this slinky slip dress is a fresh, modern take on a classic linen dress.
What We Don’t Love: It sells out fast.
While most linen pieces are intended to be oversized and flowy, this one from Aritzia’s Wilfred challenges almost every belief I had about linen dresses. First and foremost, it’s a slip dress, so it feels sexy without compromising that quintessential boho vibe you expect from linen. I typically look stubby in dresses that fall to the calf (I have short legs), but in this dress, I actually felt really confident. The slinky shape, complete with a V neck and a lingerie-like silhouette, elongated my body and made me look like a million bucks.
I wore this dress (which was kindly gifted to me by the brand) out to dinner and drinks while on vacation in the Hamptons, and despite being outside in incredibly humid weather, I stayed cool and totally at ease. Even when someone bumped into me and splashed a bit of beer on my dress, I remained calm knowing that it wouldn’t stain. According to style coach and stylist at Anthropologie, Leena Alsulaiman, linen is moisture-wicking and highly durable, so all you need is a light hand to wash it. And, she was right. The spill dried almost instantly and didn’t discolor the fabric. When I got home, I washed it with warm water and a little bit of soap, forcing any lingering residue to come right out.
My only complaint about this dress is that it sells out quickly, so if you want one of your own, you’ll have to act fast.
Price at time of publish: $128
Sizes: 2XS - XL | Material: 100% Organic linen | Colors: Black, White, Ecru
Quince European Linen Button Front Dress
What We Love: This button down dress, which features side pockets and a tie at the waist, is priced just under fifty dollars.
What We Don’t Love: Every dress color comes with white buttons — DIYing might be necessary if they clash with your aesthetic.
I’ve always heard rave reviews of the brand Quince, but never understood the hype until now. Created from 100% European linen (which, by the way, Alsulaiman says is one of the most sustainable fabrics), this button down dress features side pockets and tie at the waist for under fifty dollars. It’s available in five different earthy colors, so if classic white linen isn’t your thing, you have a bunch to choose from. One thing to note: Each color comes with white buttons, so if the contrast messes with your aesthetic, you may want to grab some buttons of your own and DIY. Buttons aside, the dress drapes beautifully and cinches at the waist to give an hourglass look (which those with curves can especially appreciate) and avoid any resemblance to a potato sack.
Price at time of publish: $50
Sizes: XS - XL | Material: 100% Linen | Colors: Black, White, Terracotta, Olive, Tan
Eileen Fisher Organic Linen Tiered Dress
What We Love: This super breezy maxi dress is lightweight, feminine, and available in a wide range of sizes.
What We Don’t Love: The dress runs really large, so sizing down is key.
Easy and elegant are two words to describe this organic linen dress. Thanks to Eileen Fisher’s iconic lightweight organic linen fabric and tiered silhouette, it’s comfortable but doesn’t miss the mark when it comes to feminine details. It’s also mindfully designed: The square neck looks modern, and also hides the look of bra straps. According to InStyle’s Senior Fashion Commerce Editor Chloe Anello, “It’s super breezy, and the straps hit right where your bra straps are, so you don’t have to worry about your bra peeking through or dealing with the annoyance of a strapless bra.” The dress is intended to have a close fit that’s wider at the hem, as well as fit every body with ease. But, Anello says to be sure to keep in mind that the dress runs really big and that sizing down is important to get the right fit.
Price at time of publish: $120
Sizes: XXS - 3X, Petite sizes available | Material: 100% Organic linen | Colors: Black, White
Theory Tie-Back Dress
What We Love: This A-line linen dress with tie-back details stands apart from its shapeless counterparts.
What We Don’t Love: It can be hard to wash.
Most linen dresses have no shape to them, but this one has the breeziness we love in linen yet an interesting shape and details. This sleeveless midi dress has a complimentary A-line silhouette and a back cutout detail complete with tie you fasten yourself. “I thought it would emphasize my hips with where the flounce hits, but it’s actually super flattering,” Anello says. The dress comes in four hues — black, white mint, and cognac — but the eco-conscious material is the same across the board. The linen fabric was sustainably crafted in Italy from three fibers: organic linen, viscose (made from cotton waste by-products), and partially-recycled elastane, adding to the list of things to feel good about. Because of the fabric, you aren’t supposed to wash, bleach or tumble dry the dress, which can make cleaning complicated. To launder the dress, it’s recommended that you dry clean it.
Price at time of publish: $237
Sizes: P - XL | Material: 62% Linen, 36% Viscose, 2% Elastane | Colors: Black, White, Mint, Cognac
Faherty Isha Linen Dress
What We Love: Thanks to a semi-fitted bodice and retro skirt, this easy, breezy mini dress is a fan-favorite.
What We Don’t Love: If you’re petite, you might not love the way this dress falls on your legs.
The Isha Linen Dress is Faherty’s best selling dress, which makes sense given that I’ve seen countless women sporting this dress on the hot streets of New York City. There’s a number of reasons why this one is so popular — first, it fits nicely on just about any body type. It has a pintuck bodice with mini buttons trailing down the center, plus a retro-fitted skirt that’s relaxed yet flattering. When I first put on the dress, which was gifted to me by the brand, I was so excited to discover that there are hidden side pockets — perfect for stowing keys and small items.
If there’s one thing I could change about this dress, it would be to make the skirt a little shorter. The length falls to the knee on my short legs, so if you’re petite like me, you may find yourself taking this one to a tailor. Thankfully, the flattering bodice helps keep this dress from looking frumpy and overall, it fits well in all the right places.
Price at time of publish: $168
Sizes: XXS - XXL | Material: 100% Linen | Colors: Blue stripe, Pink stripe, Floral, Palm
Everlane The Linen Workwear Dress
Best Button Down
What We Love: The ultimate chill girl uniform, this dress keeps you cool even on uncomfortably warm days.
What We Don’t Love: It runs really large, so you might want to size down for a better fit.
Although the name indicates that this dress is a staple for the office (which it is), it’s also great for just about every other situation, too. The classic notched collar paired with the clean button front means business, while the relaxed short sleeves, utility front pockets and cool, oversized fit screams ‘chill girl uniform.’ I tried the dress (courtesy of the brand) in the bright orange shade, Turmeric, and the cheery hue got me tons of compliments all day long. It’s bold, sure, but it isn’t too loud, making it the perfect piece to wear to the office and then wherever day takes you post-happy hour.
I got a size small, but found that it was a little more oversized than I wanted. Knowing this, I recommend sizing down to get a fit you won’t feel overwhelmed in. But, even if it’s a little oversized (how it’s intended to be), it regulates heat really well. This is all thanks to the material’s natural fibers, which Alsulaiman says helps with body temperature regulation when worn close to the skin.
Price at time of publish: $88
Sizes: XXS - XL | Material: 100% Linen | Colors: Brown, Navy, Light Blue, Green, Orange, Brown and White Grid
Abercrombie Linen-Blend Cut-Out Shirt Dress
Best Wrap Dress
What We Love: This fun and flirty take on a linen dress is available in a bunch of different sizes, including both petite and tall.
What We Don’t Love: Sizing can be a little tricky.
If you’re looking for a linen dress that doesn’t feel grandmotherly (even though we love a coastal grandmother moment), the Linen-Blend Cut-Out Shirt Dress from Abercrombie is fun, flirty and modern as it gets — it’s a classic shirt dress, complete with a collar and a cozy fit. It almost looks like a two piece thanks to a slit across the center of the dress, but it has a wrap detail that closes the gap a bit. It’s adjustable, so you can make it looser or tighter, depending on the vibe you’re after. Speaking of fit, Abercrombie’s sizing can be a bit tricky: I tried the dress, courtesy of the brand, in an XS and a S. Both worked well, it ultimately depends on the fit you’re most comfortable with. The extra small was more of a snug fit, it hugged my body better and was a tad more flattering, but it was shorter. The small was probably more appropriate for work (ignoring the slit in the middle) and felt more relaxed. If you’re trying to decide between sizes, Alsulaiman recommends a more snug fit instead of a looser one due to the nature of the fabric. “Linen will stretch, and if you get a size that’s a bit looser, odds are you’ll be unhappy when it inevitably stretches out,” she says.
Price at time of publish: $70
Sizes: XXS - XL / Petite, Regular, Tall available | Material: 55% Linen, 45% Viscose | Colors: White, Pink, Black
Reformation Ramone Linen Dress
Best Long Sleeve
What We Love: This billowy long-sleeved linen dress is the perfect transitional piece to reach for as the seasons change.
What We Don’t Love: We wish it came in more inclusive sizes.
Linen is typically thought of as a summery fabric, but it can actually work all year round. The Ramone Linen Dress from Reformation is especially perfect for in-between seasons as it has billowy long sleeves that help ease the transition from summer to fall. The dress, which comes in three colorways — blue, white and a blue and white floral pattern — has an empire waist that sits just below the bust and puffy sleeves that give it a renaissance vibe. As for the length, it sits just above the knee, so it’s appropriate for the office without feeling stuffy or boring. The best part of all, in my opinion, is the material. It’s breathable, moves with you, and ensures your body stays at a comfortable temperature, regardless of the season. “Since linen is temperature regulating, it keeps you warm in chilly temperatures the same way it helps you stay cool in the summer,” Alsulaiman says.
Something to note: It’s only available in XS to XL, so we’d love it even more if the brand would extend their size range to include petite and plus size options.
Price at time of publish: $128
Sizes: XS - XL | Material: 100% Linen | Colors: Blue, White, Floral,
What to Keep in Mind
Linen is a fiber made from the flax plant, so it’s actually quite durable. But, as you may have known, it tends to wrinkle quite a bit. It’s also harder to clean than other fabrics, like cotton, for example, and requires a little extra care. According to laundry expert Patric Richardson, linen is strongest when it’s wet, so you can actually pop it right in the washing machine. “Use warm water and an express cycle with a tiny bit of soap,” he explains. “Just don’t use fabric softener — it can damage the breathable fibers.” And when it comes to using a detergent, you might be better off without one. “Be careful with detergents on linen. It can coat fibers and make it harder to remove stains,” he advises. Instead, use a bar of laundry soap to spot treat areas that need TLC. As for drying, it’s best to let your linen hang dry instead of tossing it in the dryer.
According to Alsulaiman, linen is exceptionally versatile for a myriad of reasons. “It’s lightweight, highly breathable, absorbent, anti-bacterial, and moisture-wicking,” she explains. “As breathable as linen is, having a dress made from the material is one of the best wardrobe staples throughout all seasons.” It’s also one of the easiest, most versatile pieces to style. Add a pair of sandals, slides, ankle boots, or even sneakers, and grab a denim jacket for cooler days, and you’re set.
Linen is typically thought of as a material that should be worn oversized, and while that can be true, it’s not always the case. “The fit will ultimately depend on the piece, and what you are going for — more fitted vs. flowy and oversized,”says Alsulaiman. “However, regardless of the fit, when choosing a size, I recommend a more snug fit instead of a looser one. Because of the nature of linen, it will stretch, and if you get a size that is a bit looser, odds are you’ll be unhappy when it gets even bigger.”
Your Questions, Answered
How can you style a linen dress?
Blogger and influencer Lindsay Silberman opts to pair her linen with classic, timeless pieces like straw bags and sun hats. “It’s the easy, breezy equivalent of an LBD, it’s great to throw on when you’re not sure what to wear,” she says. “It can be dressed up and stay casual at the same time — and practically guarantees my look will fit the bill, even when I’m unclear about a dress code.”
How can you get wrinkles out of linen?
Linen tends to wrinkle. Ibukunoluwa (IB) Oyerinde, model, designer, and founder of LOLA TARA, recommends keeping a small spray bottle filled with water on hand when you’re wearing linen. “I simply spray a bit of water on the wrinkles and flatten out the fabric with my hands,” she explains. Linen also responds well to steam, says Richardson. “Spraying a bottle of water on linen and following up with an iron can be especially helpful,” he adds. However, wrinkling is inevitable, so you may as well just embrace it. Silberman agrees, saying that you shouldn’t avoid linen, even if you think it’s high maintenance. “One of the best things about linen is that sometimes the wrinkled, lived-in look can totally work in your favor,” she says.
Why Shop With Us
Caitlyn Martyn is a commerce writer for InStyle, where she covers skincare, makeup, hair, and fashion. With expert insight from stylists, designers, and fabric experts, she poured over product specifications and sampled the top picks for this story. Caitlyn has experience researching, testing and writing about clothing and accessories, and has tried tons of different linen dresses, including from Reformation, Aritzia, Abercrombie, Everlane, and more.
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