Be still my beating heart; I now own my dream dress.
I've admired softly draped, loose-fitted linen dresses from afar for a while now, and last week I finally unwrapped my very first linen frock from TOAST. It was everything I hoped it would be: not too thick but also not too thin, just the right shade of dark slate grey, four little buttons on the front with a neat little collar. I slipped it over my head and admired my reflection in the mirror. It hung just right, settling just below the knee and flowing outwards in a way that would flatter any figure. That was it, I was never taking it off.
There's just something about linen that makes it far superior above any other fabric. It could be its pleasing texture, the way it keeps you nice and cool in summer, or (more likely) how its perfectly acceptable not to iron it and embrace the creases. It's the small imperfections of the fabrics that make each garment unique and that much more special. Good linen doesn't come cheap, but it's often worth the price tag when investing in a forever garment that will see you through any season for the foreseeable future.
In my previous life as a clothes horse / fashion writer, I barely paid any attention to the quality of the garments I was accumulating, adhering to fast-fashion trends with a constant urge to buy. Nowadays, I'm careful to consider every garment that I purchase, thinking about longevity and versatility. Subsequently, linen crops up quite often on my wish lists. Alongside TOAST, there are three brands that I'm always daydreaming about.
Based in Boston in the US, Rennes is a small but perfectly formed brand that hand-make every single garment. Fabrics also include fine cottons, gingham and wool, but their loose-fitted linen pieces are what really catches my eye. There's something so feminine and ethereal about the oversized shirt and dress pictured below, both timeless pieces that will never date.
Based in Lithuania, Not Perfect Linen revels in the natural imperfections of my favourite fabric. Their focus is on creating sustainable clothing that doesn't have any detrimental effects on the earth during the manufacturing process. They offer a selection of bed linen, towels and tote bags, but it's their effortless jumpsuits and simple linen aprons that really catch my eye.
Another brand based in Lithuania (I'm going to have to plan a shopping trip to Vilinius!), Off On Clothing concentrate on creating timeless classics with clean lines and simple shapes. They also offer a range of covetable printed shirt dresses, but their oversized linen dresses and slimline linen all-in-ones are at the top of my shopping list.
And then there's TOAST. Purveyors of simple, functional and thoughtful garments that will stand the test of time. Their linen range mainly focuses on loungewear and the collection of cross-over aprons that are calling my name, so I was over the moon when I spotted my hopsack linen shirt dress on their site a few months back. It's been on my mind ever since, and is now in pride of place at the front of my wardrobe.
Photographs of me by Lee Garland