What's the Best Fabric for a Dress Shirt?

What's the Best Fabric for a Dress Shirt?

A dress shirt is an essential component of a formal outfit. When wearing a formal two- or three-piece suit, you'll need a dress shirt. Men's dress shirts feature a button-up design that's become synonymous with formal outfits. They are worn under a suit jacket or blazer, resulting in a formal appearance.

Not all dress shirts, however, are made of the same fabric. Like other garments, dress shirts are available in many different fabrics. Some of these fabrics are softer and gentler than others. Conversely, some dress shirts are made of a stronger and more durable fabric than others.


You can find dress shirts available in linen. Linen is a type of lightweight organic fabric that's derived from the flax plant. It's been around for thousands of years, making it one of the world's oldest fabrics. Linen consists of flax plant fibers that are woven together to create a soft and lightweight fabric.

Linen dress shirts are often worn during the warmer months of the year. Since it's a lightweight fabric, linen is cool and breathable. It won't trap your body heat, nor will it weigh you down. With a linen dress shirt, you'll stay comfortable during otherwise hot summer and spring days.


Perhaps the most common fabric in which dress shirts are made is cotton. Research shows that over 27 million tons of cotton are harvested each year. Cotton has a myriad of applications, one of which being the construction of dress shirts.

Cotton dress shirts are considered more versatile than linen dress shirts. They are still lightweight, but they typically weigh slightly more than their linen counterparts. With their moderate weight, cotton dress shirts can be worn year-round. Regardless of the season, you can't go wrong with a cotton dress shirt.

Keep in mind that there are several different types of cotton. While they all come from the cotton plant, they have subtle nuances that can affect their appearance as well as their physical characteristics.


While not as common as linen or cotton, poplin is used in the construction of dress shirts as well. What is poplin exactly? Also known as tabinet, it's a fine but strong fabric that's characterized by the use of a horizontal warp and a vertical weft.

Technically speaking, poplin isn't a specific type of fabric. Some types of poplin consist of cotton, whereas others consist of wool. Poplin simply refers to a special weaving process in which the respective fabric has a horizontal warp and a vertical weft.

In terms of strength and durability, poplin dress shirts are superior to nearly all other types of dress shirts. You won't have to worry about a poplin dress shirt ripping, tearing or sustaining other forms of damage. All poplin dress shirts are very strong. They'll weather the hands of time while providing you with a fashionable shirt.


Another fabric used in dress shirts is tweed. Originating in Ireland, tweed has become a popular fabric for men's button-up dress shirts. It's essentially a type of wool with a close weaving pattern. The weaving pattern can vary depending on the type of tweed. Some types of tweed use a twill weaving pattern, whereas others types of tweed using a herringbone weaving pattern.

Since it's a woolen fabric, tweed dress shirts are a great choice for the cooler months of the year. They are soft -- just like most wool shirts and garments. Tweed dress shirts, however, are also heavy yet still somewhat thin. By sporting a tweed dress underneath a suit jacket or blazer, you'll stay warm even when it's cold outside.

Keep in mind that there are several types of tweed. Harris is a type of tweed that's regulated by the Harris Tweed Act of 1993. Under this piece of legislation, all Harris tweed must be handwoven in the Outer Hebrides and made of pure virgin wool. Donegal tweed, on the other hand, receives its namesake from the Irish county of Donegal. In Donegal, Ireland, it's been harvested and produced for several centuries.

Choosing the Right Fabric

Linen, cotton, poplin and tweed are four of the most common fabrics used to make dress shirts. They each offer their own benefits. Many men prefer linen dress shirts during the warmer months of the year. Linen dress shirts are lightweight, breathable and available in dozens of styles.

A cotton dress is an all-around great choice. Cotton dress shirts are soft, versatile and support year-round usage. You can wear them during the spring, summer, fall or winter months. When in doubt, you can't go wrong with a cotton dress shirt.

Poplin is perhaps the most unique fabric used in dress shirts. It has a particular weaving structure that results in a superior level of strength and durability. At the same time, poplin dress shirts are still soft and comfortable.

You may still want to choose a tweed dress shirt. Whether it's Harris or Donegal tweed, it will enhance your appearance while keeping you comfortable in the process. Tweed dress shirts are stylish and comfortable. They are also made with a focus on quality, which is reflected in their equally high-quality construction.

Don't Forget to Accessorize Your Dress Shirt

Regardless of the fabric, you should accessorize your dress shirt. If you're wearing it with a suit, you'll need a tie. You can accessorize your dress shirt with either a bowtie or a necktie. Bowties are considered more formal than neckties. For black-tie events, a bowtie is recommended. For all other formal occasions, you can accessorize your dress shirt with either a bowtie or a necktie.

The fabric, of course, is just one of many things to consider when choosing a dress shirt. Even more important is the size. If your dress shirt doesn't fit, it may look awkward when worn. Additionally, an undersized or oversized dress shirt may prove uncomfortable. You can avoid these problems by ordering a custom-sized dress shirt.