A fabric is a material made by weaving, knitting, spreading, crocheting, or bonding and is used for production of clothes or other textiles. At the highest level, there are only 2 fabric types – natural and synthetic. Natural ones are made from plants (e.g. cotton) or obtained from animals (e.g. wool, silk). Synthetic fabrics like nylon, spandex, rayon, polyester, or acrylic are man-made. It is not uncommon to mix natural and synthetic materials when making clothes to e.g. increase elasticity or add resistant to stains.
Dress Shirt Fabric Types
Cotton is by far the most popular fabric used for dress shirts. However, depending on a cotton type or weave, the fabric can have completely different properties. In order to understand the fabric types, we will take a look at different weaves first.
Cotton Broadcloth or Poplin
Broadcloth is a medium-weight, plain-weave fabric often used to make dress shirts, skirts, and blouses. So is poplin. Historically, there were minor differences between these 2 fabrics, but now they are used as synonyms. They have a smooth, glossy look and is durable and breathable. Broadcloth was originally made from wool in England, while poplin was made of silk. Now both are often made from cotton. Although broadcloth / poplin is one of the smoothest weaves, it has a tendency of wrinkling too much.
Pinpoint & Oxford
Both of pinpoint and oxford fabrics are medium weight, slightly rough shirt materials, heavier than broadcloth. Due to that, these fabric types are more suitable for casual occasions than for formal, office wear. Oxford material is known for the iconic button down Oxford shirt.
The symmetrical basket-weave is used to make both fabrics. However, there are some minor differences between them. In Oxford fabric, two or more warp yarn crosses an equal number of weft yarns. In pinpoint, a single weft crosses two warp threads. Due to this small change, the pinpoint fabric has a finer texture and tighter weave. The pinpoint fabric is more suitable for more formal events.
Twill is a woven fabric that is known for its diagonal weave. Diagonal weave adds strength and durability, the fabric drapes well and doesn’t wrinkle. Cotton twill is one of most popular fabrics for high-end dress shirts, because of its qualities. On the other hand, twill is fairly heavy fabric and may not be the first choice during summer months.
As cotton, linen is also an all-natural fibre. It is made from the stalks of the flax plant. It is a highly breathable and absorbable fabric. As a result, it keeps you cooler, you sweat less so this makes linen a great option for summers or offices without air conditioning.
Linen is very durable fabric, however not as smooth as the others. One more drawback is that it wrinkles a lot and in general, linen dress shirts are hard to maintain. All in all, it is a good fabric for more casual occasions during warmer periods throughout the year.