Shirt Fabric Overview
Here we provide the definitive overview of the different types of fabrics commonly used in dress shirts. By understanding the different weaves of a fabric, you can be sure to find the ideal dress shirt fabric for your needs.
Broadcloth is often referred to as poplin and is a tightly woven fabric with a very simple over-under weave and very little sheen, which makes it nice and professional. Broadcloths are great for those looking for as little texture as possible in their fabrics. They are generally a thinner, lighter fabric. Broadcloths generally wear the smoothest out of all weaves thanks to their lack of texture, but can also be the most prone to wrinkling.
Twill fabrics are easily recognizable because they will show diagonal weave or texture. The diagonal effect can range from very fine, to a mid Royal twill, up to a much larger Imperial twills. Twills will almost always have a bit of shine, though the degree can depend on the weave, color, and cotton used. Because of the diagonal texture, twill is a bit softer than broadcloth and will drape more easily. Twill shirts can give you the same look that freshly pressed broadcloths can, but are relatively easy to iron and resistant to wrinkles.
Pinpoint has the same weave as oxford cloth, but it uses a finer yarn and tighter weave. It is more formal than oxford cloth, but less formal than broadcloth or twill. Think of them as great everyday work shirts, but not ideal for special events. Pinpoint oxfords are generally not transparent and are slightly heavier and thicker than broadcloths. Because of their heavier construction, pinpoints are fairly durable fabrics. Opt for a twill or broadcloth if you are looking for a formal shirt.
Chambray is a plain weave fabric. That means it has a similar construction to broadcloth, though it is generally made with heavier yarns for a more relaxed or work wear appeal. Generally there will be white threads running in the weft/width direction such that the fabric has an inconsistent color to it. This could be compared to an end-on-end, though chambray is generally much heavier and more appropriate for casual wear than dress.
Denim shirtings are a twill fabric, but a much softer, lighter weight version of the fabric used to make your jeans. Denim shirting can come in many forms but generally have a different color on the inside than the outside.
Dobby is very similar to Jacquard, but can vary widely. Some versions are quite similar to broadcloth in terms of thickness and weight, while others can be thicker or woven to almost look like twill. Dobbies tend to have a faint stripe or dotted patterns woven in the same color as the base cloth.
End-on-end broadcloths are a very popular type of dress shirt fabric with a distinct contrast coloring. Woven with colored thread in the warp and white thread in the weft, it looks like a true solid from a distance, but has more texture when seen from up close.
Oxford Cloth uses a slightly heavier thread and looser weave than for the pinpoint. It has a slightly rougher texture but is more durable than most fabrics. it’s composed of a symmetrical basketweave where one yarn may cross two yarns. Originally developed for sportswear, it may be considered the least dressy of shirting fabrics. Oxford cloth has always been a staple in traditional American button down polo shirts. It can be worn slightly wrinkled straight from the dryer and still look great.
Basketweave Oxford should not be confused with pinpoint oxford or oxford cloth. It is a dressy fabric with a distinctive shine and texture. With a more prominent weave than broadcloth or pinpoint, it’s ideal for those interested in a dress or formal shirt with visible texture.
Herringbone shirts are popular, more textured shirts for both dress and casual wear. Herringbone is essentially a twill that is mirrored when woven to create the sort of chevron, “V-shaped” look. The fabric’s name comes from its resemblance to the bones of a herring fish.
Pique (pronounced pee-kay) refers to a weaving style with patterns of fine ribbing or cording created with a dobby loom attachment. Pique fabrics are medium weight and usually made with cotton fibers.
Fil Coupe is a small jacquard pattern on a light weight fabric, in which the threads connecting each design are cut, creating a frayed look