Linen pants

January 6, 2017


Linen pants generally don’t ever exist in the formal wear wardrobe of city men – that’s because it got a bad rep as a super casual poolside and lounging weekend material. But to cloistered community of planters. Linen will always be King. No planter worth his salt will ever be seen dead in cotton, wool mix or for that matter even any other high end material…..only linen will do.

I suspect that’s because every planter knows intimately how tremendously finicky it is to grow, harvest and twill flax fibers into linen – the best linen in grown between the tiny sliver of land between the South of France and Amsterdam – the planting cycle is short, 100 days from March to July covering an area no more than 800 hectares. Hence good linen, especially Provenance linen is pricey.

There is also a functional dimension of linen that appeals to planters. Linen is 30 per cent stronger than cotton, its chief advantage is its particularly well suited for the hot tropics as it wicks sweat, breathes and due to the open weave, it’s very airy.

On the aesthetics – while a new cotton pants will feel smoother and silkier to the touch, linen really only starts coming into its own after about three to five years of wear – don’t expect your new linen pants to look perfect when they’re new. Usually they tend to be dull and quite scratchy.

However with regular wear and wash cycles – linen will be softer and shinier and look better, whereas cotton does the opposite. Flax fibres don’t stretch a great deal – so great care is needed in the fitting and cutting.

Linen is exceptionally durable and even resistant to damage from abrasion, which generally speaking is a good thing when one is romping around in the field.

The other difference between cotton and linen is the latter seldom ever holds it’s shape for more than a few hours – to wear linen is to embrace the beauty of crumpleness…roughness…impermanence even – that may well be why linen pants don’t ever feature in corporate settings. But it’s shabby wabi sabi feel is certainly a very attractive trait that only planters seem to appreciate.

The only downside about linen is my dogs like to bury their noses into my crotch – I wonder why? What do they see with their noses, could it be they can conjure up distant images of bright sunlit morns in July or maybe Robbins dipping their wings as they swoop low along the fields of bronzed flak plants….it’s so sad to me, it’s a different species lah!


‘The essence of Wabi-sabi can be boiled down to a few philosophies – the first is passing thru this planet as delicately as possible like perhaps how the wind flits ever so gently across the hills and valleys – it is to be the opposite of loud, brash and full frontal.

It doesn’t happen all at once. Just like linen acquiring a sheen only after years of wear….it all takes time to come along….to be real that is. To not try too hard to be perfect, too well kept and above all cultivating the wisdom to appreciate the beauty of all manner of things.

In other words, the wabi in the sabi tells us to stop our mad fixation with staying young forever, success, wealth, status, prestige, power and ceaseless consumption and instead enjoy life as it really is.

Wabi-sabi acknowledges that just as it is important to know when to make choices, it is also important to know when not to make choices: to let things simply be. As even at the most austere level of existence. When we don’t interfere too much with things such as the environment – that can only produce beautiful living.

The Sabi in the Wabi speaks about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get when we give things and people the permission to simply be real and not kitsch.

As to be real, it is to be like linen – as not only does linen have the courtesy to crumple after a few hours of wear and at times even appear slightly shabby. But it is precisely this irregularity as opposed to symmetry…this almost delicate imbalance between impermanence and timelessness that makes linen so beautiful.

In reality nothing in the universe is completely perfect or completely still; it is only in the minds of men that such fakery exist. Because once you are real you can’t be ugly, except maybe to people who don’t care very much for linen.’

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