The Old Classic Linen is Back

Some men can step out the mouth of an erupting volcano looking perfectly calm, even rakish. Some men are born that way. Others just happen to be wearing linen.

British IndiaSpun from flax, one of the most ancient textiles, linen was woven by the Egyptians over five thousand years ago. Tutankhamen was wrapped in linen when archaeologists dug him up. All the best-dressed mummies wore linen. Linen imbues a man with a prosperous look, even a man with no visible means of support. Linen is also the perfect hot weather fabric.

It's cooler, stronger and more lustrous than cotton. A man in linen looks cool even during the most oppressively hot Singaporean days, when the air wiggles like a desert mirage. Depending upon the weave, linen can be as course as canvas or as fine as a tissue of starlight.

Left in its natural state, linen is the color of a hay field tinged with early morning light, or it can be dyed in faded brights, like a hot day dulled by an afternoon rainstorm. Either way, linen looks best wrinkled, which is part of its disheveled charm.

Linen is what you wear in spring, to help celebrate the defeat of winter, and if you have to work in an office, for when you fling open the windows and let a breeze toss your papers from the In Box to the Out Box. An oversized white linen shirt is the perfect antidote to the stuffed shirt.

Linen pants - whether pleated, with full legs lined to the knees, or cut like sleek jeans-are this season's alternative to khaki or denim. Woven into a drapey linen blazer are memories of Morocco, which is where linen migrates to once summer fades to fall and flannel season begins.