Ideally, you will have OutKast’s So Fresh, So Clean playing softly in the background as you read this rousing testament to a textile. But first, I should let you know how I was plucked from the Never-Never Land and thousands of potentials to qualify as a fashion commentator for Broadsheet.

Many moons ago, I worked at one of the big European fashion Maisons. I mingled with the millionaires, whispered santé behind my crystal flute of champagne, endured evenings in borrowed heels that near-asphyxiated my size 40+ hooves, and mastered a font of foreign courteous phrases to service our clientele. It was a little like The Devil Wears Prada but more fun. My wardrobe and grooming became a priority, and although my inner wet-dog-from-the-beach look wasn't snuffed entirely, I was able to justify purchasing a slew of exciting new looks in my pursuit of representing the brand.

With staff privileges I clad myself in silks, tweeds and faux chinchilla (I’m vegetarian), and clutched exotic leathergoods made from specially bred lizards and stingrays (okay, maybe repto-pescetarian on those occasions). I worshipped creative directors in Paris, and spent every hard-earned cent re-investing in a piece of the magic. A souvenir of the collection, I told myself. Treasures my unborn daughters would one day inherit. Heirlooms.

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Catapult in time to now. My devotions and dreams are dedicated to a little lord I gave birth to six months ago, and while I still froth at the opportunity to step into something a tad razzy I’m certainly more practical. You can’t be picking bits of mashed Vita Brit and banana off your pastel organza.

So occasionally my wardrobe can feel like a shame cave but it’s also my cubby and thinking place. Just enough room for me and my private problem solving. Everything from “Why do men have nipples?” (unsolved mystery) to “Are there really any things that bridge race, religion, age, gender and class?” And it was here, when, pawing through a carcinogenic nest of plastic dry-cleaning sleeves that a turtle dove of apparel appeared before me. There might have been a beam of light illuminating my holy discovery if only the big guy was able to navigate through the bog of puffy vests, shimmy dresses, and maternity bras to where it hung: a linen shirt.

Bone coloured. Seven years old or more. Made in Portugal. Collar slightly askew, wrinkled. Breast pockets pursed closed with clear little buttons. Quietly smushed in all the chaos, like a clean tissue in your coat pocket. Ready for anything.

A more universal item of clothing I can’t imagine. And I’m not talking any peabody day-to-night versatility, I’m talking clothes that can breeze you from brunch on the yacht in Antibes to supervising the grade five ropes course at Camp Strzlecki. Sydney to Melbourne. Buenos Aires to Beirut. Paris to Port-au-Prince. Ernest Hemingway, Inès de La Fressange, Leo Tolstoy, Pierce Brosnan, Rihanna, Alexander the Great. All got ’em.

Despite its home in the closets of the aforementioned glitterati, the material had more humble beginnings. Derived from the stem of the flax plant, it is the oldest of spun textiles, and dates back to the ancient Egyptians who mummified their royals in linen bandages. Until the 19th century and the advent of modern technologies, it was considered the finest of fabrics because of its abundant qualities and difficulty to weave.

Absorbent, breathable, structurally sound, sustainable (pesticides are not required to separate the fibres from the stem of the flax plant, and the crop prospers in poor soil), a natural moth deterrent – a linen garment can last 20 to 30 years or more when cared for correctly, and softens with washing and wear. Does a more splendid cloth exist?

The labours of my small linen shirt collection are wide-ranging. Shrugged over bathers at the beach, tucked into a structured skirt on corporate occasions, chucked on with khaki pants while volunteering in East Africa, and worn open as a sort of “summery jacket” with those Nancy Ganz-esque dresses when I was pregnant.

If you would like to add some linen to your life, I recommend Uniqlo , J.Crew and Jac + Jack for the best staples. Try Stella McCartney and Acne for more interesting variations, and for men, Brioni shirts are The Ritz. In general, Italian and Irish linen are said to be the best, but I am pretty happy with my Portuguese.

Look 1

Patterned silk pants (ba&sh), Oatmeal linen top (The Dreamer Label, available at Husk), trainers (Adidas), sunglasses (Thierry Lasry, available at Grace).

Look 2

Striped linen shirt (Uniqlo), white denim shorts (Nobody Denim), sandals (Birkenstocks), bag (a one off, bought in Tokyo).

Look 3

Linen pants (Stella McCartney), white t-shirt (James Perse), belt (Husk), heels (vintage Louis Vuitton).

Look 4

White linen shirt (bought at a bodega in Positano in Italy, 12 years ago), jeans (Topshop), cable-knit sweater (Uniqlo).

Michaela Davis has worked for global brands including Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy for over 10 years. She is also a mother on her L-plates, to a nine month old son.