Men’s dress shirts are made of a variety of materials and fabrics, each of which has its own unique characteristics. If you’re looking to buy a new dress shirt, you should pay close attention to its construction. Choosing the wrong fabric could hinder your ability to wear and use the dress shirt. So, what are some of the most common fabrics used in the construction of men’s dress shirts and how do they differ?
Not surprisingly, the single most common fabric in which men’s dress shirts are made is cotton. 100% cotton shirts are soft, comfortable, breathable and easy to maintain. And because cotton is such a readily available fabric, they tend to cost less than shirts made of other materials. For these reasons and others, cotton dress shirts are preferred by man men. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should limit yourself to only wearing cotton. There are other fabrics and materials in which men’s dress shirts are made, some of which may prove to be better choice.
A step up from traditional cotton is pique cotton. Technically speaking, pique cotton is the same material as regular cotton. While they both come from the cotton plant, however, pique is designed with a special weaving method in which parallel cords are woven into the fabric. Basically, pique cotton is designed with a textured surface to improve its strength, durability and overall appeal. You can expect to pay more for a pique cotton dress shirt than a traditional cotton shirt, but many guys prefer it over the latter. Either way, pique is a viable alternative to traditional cotton that you should consider wearing.
Another common fabric used in men’s dress shirts is Oxford cloth. Like pique cotton, however, Oxford cloth isn’t a specific fabric or material. Rather, it’s a weaving style that’s characterized by a basketweave design. There are several varieties of Oxford, some of which include the Pinpoint Oxford and the Royal Oxford. The Pinpoint Oxford is slightly more casual, while the Royal Oxford is more formal. Additionally, Royal Oxford shirts are usually made with a thinner, finer yarn, resulting in a softer texture.
Perhaps the most prized variety of cotton is Egyptian cotton. It’s used to make everything from bed linens and blankets to shirts, dresses and more. As the name suggests, Egyptian cotton is produced and harvested in Egypt (and a few surrounding locations), where the climate and soil offers the perfect growing conditions for cotton. It typically has longer fibers than cotton grown elsewhere in the world, and it’s also softer and more stable. Keep in mind that Egyptian cotton dress shirts come at a premium price. If you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend a fortune on a new shirt, you may want to choose a different fabric.
While all of the aforementioned fabrics are natural, some men’s dress shirts are made of synthetic fabrics. Broadcloth fabric is actually a blend of both cotton and synthetic polyester. By combining these two fabrics together, it creates some unique qualities that aren’t found in other fabrics. Broadcloth fabric is generally soft, supple and somewhat elastic, meaning you can stretch it without breaking or otherwise damaging the fabric. Broadcloth has become a popular choice of fabric for men’s dress shirts because of its high-end look and feel.
Poplin is a fabric used in men’s dress shirts that similar to broadcloth. They are both soft, supple and ultra comfortable to wear. The main difference, however, is that poplin is made of 100% cotton, while its broadcloth counterpart is made of cotton and polyester. One of the benefits of choosing a poplin dress shirt is its natural wrinkle-resistant properties. Because of the way in which it is woven, broadcloth typically doesn’t require ironing. The horizontal ribbing that’s created when weaving the fabric resists wrinkles; thus, eliminating the need for ironing.
Of course, we can’t talk about dress shirt fabrics without mentioning silk. It’s arguably one of the most prized fabrics on the planet, featuring a superior level of softness and smoothness. While other fabrics attempt to mimic the characteristics of silk, they all fall short of the real thing. With that said, silk dress shirts can be difficult to clean and maintain. Silk doesn’t hold up well under water, meaning silk dress shirts typically require dry cleaning. And if you accidentally spill a beverage or liquid on your silk dress shirt, it may stain the fabric unless cleaned promptly.
Which Fabric Should I Choose?
Now that you know a little bit about the different fabrics in which men’s dress shirts are made, you might be wondering which one is right for you. Well, there’s no easy answer to this question, as each fabric — or weave style — has its own advantages and disadvantages. Traditional 100% cotton is a great all-around choice that’s comfortable, cool and easy to maintain. However, pique cotton is an even softer fabric that many guys prefer over traditional cotton. But if you really want to make a splash with your attire, consider Egyptian cotton as a premium alternative. Hopefully, this article gives you a better understanding of the different dress shirt fabrics and their respective characteristics.
When choosing a new dress shirt, there are other things to consider than just the fabric or weave style. Size, for instance, is equally if not more important than the fabric. If your dress shirt is too small, it will not only look awkward, but it may also tear when worn. On the other hand, wearing an oversized dress shirt looks tacky and unflattering. The bottom line is that you need to make sure your dress shirt fits properly. Whether this means buying the right size or taking it to get tailored, your dress shirt needs to fit YOUR body and not someone else’s.