What You Need To Know About Dress Shirt Fabrics

Lloyd Hughes

The Importance Of Dress Shirt Fabrics

Dress Shirt Fabrics charvet

When look­ing for a dress shirt, it can be con­fus­ing to pick because of the many choic­es. After nar­row­ing it down to the right col­or, col­lar and fit, the dress shirt’s fab­ric comes into the equa­tion. I’m going to give you a primer on what to look for regard­ing fab­rics, since it can deter­mine how you keep your cool dur­ing a sum­mer after­noon or how you look at that swanky new restau­rant with the lady friend.

Every dress shirt is a com­bi­na­tion of its weave, thread count and fiber. Ulti­mate­ly, this com­bi­na­tion will deter­mine the feel and look of the dress shirt. This is what deter­mines the final prod­uct.

Fibers in dress shirt fabrics

Cot­ton dress shirts breathe very well and can also be very soft, feel­ing the most com­fort­able of all fibers. It’s a good con­duc­tor of heat, feels and looks nat­ur­al and pro­vides the best over­all qual­i­ty, which can make it expen­sive. Keep in mind it does wrin­kle eas­i­ly. Blend­ed shirts are com­mon because they are less expen­sive than cot­ton, are wrin­kle free and pro­vide good warmth, though, less com­fort­able than cot­ton. Since they are a com­bi­na­tion of cot­ton and poly­ester, they are not breath­able, so avoid it dur­ing the sum­mer. On the oth­er hand, linen is per­fect dur­ing a hot day, but is noto­ri­ous for wrin­kling. Per­son­al­ly, I avoid linen because I don’t want my shirt look­ing like I slept in it.


Oxford cloth is one of the more pop­u­lar weaves, due to it’s soft­ness and good dura­bil­i­ty. It can be worn for for­mal or casu­al occa­sions. It has a “bas­ket weave” appear­ance, the fab­ric cross­ing over in pairs. Pin­point Oxford is a high­er end Oxford, hav­ing a lighter weight and fin­er tex­ture. Roy­al Oxford is fin­er still, usu­al­ly worn for for­mal occa­sions.

Dress shirt fabrics weave

Broad­cloth is a tight­ly woven fab­ric with a silky tex­ture, giv­ing it a smooth, for­mal appear­ance. It’s one of the most for­mal dress shirts you can wear, dis­play­ing pat­terns, such as stripes, with great detail. Also, it’s great dur­ing the cool­er months, pro­vid­ing insu­la­tion, dur­ing Spring or Fall.

Broadcloth dress shirt fabrics

Twill dress shirts use a diag­o­nal pat­tern, giv­ing it a unique look but also has a strong tex­ture which looks great on shirts with a sol­id col­or, mak­ing the pat­terns more vis­i­ble. It’s gen­er­al­ly light weight, lighter than Oxford and Broad­cloth, but also very durable, not soil­ing eas­i­ly.

Twill dress shirt fabrics

Poplin, sim­i­lar to Broad­cloth, is made up of 100% cot­ton hav­ing a soft, com­fort­able feel, not requir­ing much iron­ing. It makes a good sum­mer shirt. It has a very smooth look, though, there is a fine hor­i­zon­tal ribbed effect on the sur­face. Also, it drapes very well to the body so it’s impor­tant to have it sized prop­er­ly.

Dress shirt fabrics in poplin

Her­ring­bone is a cus­tom dress shirt that is tight­ly woven with a fine ribbed effect. It’s used with Twill, cre­at­ing a weave made up of rows in oppo­site direc­tions, form­ing a zig zag pat­tern. It looks great on sol­id col­ored shirts, bring­ing out the unique details of the fab­ric. Com­pared to an Oxford shirt, the Her­ring­bone has a smoother feel and classier appear­ance. Not a com­mon weave, but def­i­nite­ly unique.

Dress shirt fabrics in herringbone

Dress shirt fabrics and thread count

The final piece is the thread count, which tells you how many threads were used to make the fab­ric. Most dress shirts range from 40 — 160.  The high­er the thread count, the high­er the qual­i­ty, such as a soft­er, fin­er fin­ish. A low­er thread count usu­al­ly pro­duces less qual­i­ty but it could also mean a heav­ier fab­ric, for cool­er weath­er. Anoth­er fac­tor to con­sid­er with thread count is the ply, which means how many threads were twist­ed togeth­er before mak­ing the fab­ric. Two ply takes two strands, twists them togeth­er, and pro­duces a durable, smooth fab­ric. Sin­gle ply uses one strand and there­fore, pro­duces less over­all qual­i­ty. So a two ply, 80 thread count dress shirt would be bet­ter than a sin­gle ply, 120 thread count shirt. Take a look at the fab­rics we offer to get a bet­ter idea.

Dress shirt fabrics bunches and bolts

Know the fundamentals

Ulti­mate­ly, the final prod­uct craft­ed by the tai­lor or design­er will deter­mine the qual­i­ty of your dress shirt, but know­ing the fun­da­men­tals of what goes into a dress shirt will help you get what you want, what­ev­er the occa­sion maybe. This is just the tip of the ice­berg regard­ing dress shirt fab­rics, as there are many dif­fer­ent styles, pref­er­ences and opin­ions on what makes a great shirt, but the basics will nev­er change, even when your style does.

Ties shirts and collars for dress shirt fabrics

Return to our home­page to learn more about cus­tom dress shirts.