There’s a section on eBay where you can buy an entire wardrobe of linen clothing for under $100. Airy dresses in burnt-orange and poppy-red go for $29.88, or $6.99. There are quite literally pages and pages of cropped, flared pants, which go for $19.50, or $23, or $18.69.
I share this with you now because it’s almost August, it’s hot, my jeans feel like sausage casings, my cotton T-shirts are stained with sweat, and the one dress that felt comfortable to me when the humidity index hit 100 percent has a recent tear near my upper thigh.
Linen, as we learned from my colleague Margaret’s magnum opus on the fabric, is the best solution for dressing comfortably in the heat: It breathes, it dries quickly, and it keeps you cool when you’re decidedly not. As she put it: “It’s nature’s technical apparel.” And, as she wrote, there’s more stylish linen clothing to choose from than ever: Paloma Wool’s pretty linen shift dresses and cropped pants, Blluemade’s light, collared jackets and airy jumpsuits. Trouble is, these things are expensive — even secondhand, a Paloma Wool linen slit skirt is currently selling for $185 on eBay and an off-the-shoulder dress is going for $140.
Which brings me back to my special secret, the online treasure trove that is powering me coolly through to fall: vintage Eileen Fisher. Fisher’s structural linen basics debuted in the 1980s, and she’s been a mainstay since, especially for women in cities. That means there’s a lot of it out there, which in turn means that it’s all priced much lower than it should be on eBay. In sum: The resale site is flush with mint-condition, cheap Eileen Fisher.
Think of what you’d like to own in linen. Pants? Type “Eileen Fisher linen pants.” Twenty-three pages, or roughly 1,104 pairs of pants, will appear. It’s a lot to sort through, but between the rayon mixes and some dowdy gray shorts, you will find pairs that are nearly indistinguishable from the $200 ones sold on Paloma Wool: Many are cropped, wide-legged, and come in 2018’s favorite colors like lavender, avocado-green, and rust-red.
My favorite subset of this category are the sets: inexpensive monochrome shirt-and-pants combos that cheaply create a look embraced by fashion brands like Tom Ford and Balenciaga, Solange, and the Hadids. I bought a green jacket-and-pants duo and have worn it together and in parts at least once a week since (most often on days when the temperature spikes into the 90s) making the price per wear somewhere in the cents at this point. Below, a bevy of affordable Eileen Fisher pants, skirts, and jackets. And when these inevitably sell, you’ll know what to search to find more options: “Eileen Fisher,” “linen,” plus the clothing object of your choice. I don’t see this particular well drying up anytime soon.
Eileen Fisher Green Irish Linen Clamming Pants
Eileen Fisher Linen Pink Pants
Eileen Fisher Linen Petite Crop Elastic Blue Pants
Eileen Fisher Womens Organic Linen Pants Wide Leg Burnt Rust
Eileen Fisher Green 100% Irish Linen 2 Pc Pant Set
Eileen Fisher 2 Piece White Linen Blend Capri Set Suit
Eileen Fisher 2-Piece TwinSet Citron Linen Tank and Shirt Set
Dresses and skirts
Eileen Fisher women’s crepe silk blend A-line skirt
Eileen Fisher Organic Handkerchief Long Wrap Tunic
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