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Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

The question

When is it appropriate to start wearing my linen jacket?

The answer

There used to be rules about these things. You may, if you are old enough, remember your parents saying that you couldn't wear white pants after Labour Day or mix blue and green or black and navy. Fashion has always been in conflict with convention. Style involves some knowledge of both. But you can pretty much forget these seasonal injunctions.

Unseasonal clothing actually only stands out when it's visibly uncomfortable. That's why the bearded guys who swear by their knitted wool toques even when it's 32 degrees, or when they're DJing in an overheated club, look ridiculous. They are obviously sacrificing their comfort for fashion, and that's always a bad look.

Ditto for the linen jacket: If you're shivering miserably in the freezing rain in your pale, damp suit, no matter how beautifully it's tailored, you're not going to look in full command of your environment.

Note that the weight is more important here than the colour. Although we do tend to save coloured and white clothing for warmer months, there is nothing less warm about a bright orange puffy parka, right? A pale camel overcoat can look toasty on a winter day. Similarly, a pastel cotton jacket over a white shirt and jeans can look sophisticated and dressy in a warm bar on a grey winter evening.

And not all linen is pink and baby blue and seersucker. There are a lot of nice suits and jackets around this season in mid-blue, brown and grey. For some reason, windowpane checks are everywhere. These bold patterns don't have to be saved for the dog days. Wear them as soon as you feel warm enough.

Novelist Russell Smith's memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a style question? E-mail

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