8 Essential Dress Shirt Fabrics Every Man Should Know

A dress shirt with long sleeves, front buttons and collars can look quite amazing for any casual or formal event. These shirts look great, and every man should have several in their closet.

Dress shirts were really popularized around 5 decades ago, and started more as an undergarment that is usually layered with coats or jackets. They were also available mostly in just variations of the color white.

man wearing dress shirt and pants surrounded by different types of dress shirts

As the time passed, many fashion trends have changed and these dress shirts have become more than just a piece of undergarment.

They are often worn along with the trousers or chinos or jeans. They look remarkably fashionable and are available in different fabrics and colors. The shirt fabric or the 'shirting' as popularly called by most of the tailors can come in different types of weaves. While cotton is the most common one for the dress shirts, there are some more fabrics too. 

different colors of shirting fabrics

Depending on how formal or how casual you want your dress shirt to be, you can choose the right fabric. Each fabric comes with some different characteristics which also make the styling of the shirt unique.

If you want to design or style a perfect dress shirt for a special or specific occasion, then you need know more about these fabrics and their characteristics. Read on as we will discuss more about the most popular dress shirt fabrics and how you can style them such as cut of the shirt, collar style or the color. We have provided every important detail about these fabrics from their styling to taking care.


Different fabrics for dress shirt

Nowadays, these dress shirts are worn in different ways and styles. They are an absolute must-have for any man's wardrobe. Whether you want to wear it alone or with a blazer or a jacket, you can style a dress shirt in different ways. The looks and styles of these dress shirts also depend a lot on the type of fabric used for making them. Here are the most popular fabrics that are used for the dress shirts for men:

1. Oxford Shirt Fabric

touching blue oxford shirt fabric

The Oxford shirt fabric is one of the most popular fabrics for the men's shirt. It is a bit thicker than most of the fabrics that are considered fine dress shirt fabrics. As it is a bit thicker, it is also resistant to wrinkles and is quite durable in nature.

Oxford fabric is mostly known for its basket weaving that features the weft threads crossing over the warp threads (weft and warp are fancy words for the threads that pass over each other in the weaving process which run perpendicular to each other). Most of the time, a particular color of weft thread is crossed with one white warp thread that can result in a perfect two-tone color appearance. Because of the two-by-two weaving style, it creates rough texture which is its uniqueness.

How to style it?

man buttoning khaki oxford shirt

The Oxford fabric shirts are better to be worn as buttoned down-style collar. This can eliminate the problem of the collars that lay flat or even disappear under the collar of your jacket. This fabric looks best in blue as it is weaved along with white thread giving a nice gradient effect to your shirt. The shirt made up of Oxford fabric is most popularly styled for casual occasions. But you can also wear it for any semi-formal events too. You can pair it up with jeans or chinos, and they tend to be super comfortable.

man wearing oxford dress shirt and khaki pants

Special care: You can wash the Oxford shirts in cold water but use a delicate cycle and mild detergent. Avoid warm washing as it can fade the color.

Pros:

  • Quite thick and warm in nature
  • Unique weaving style
  • Very durable and comfortable

Cons:

  • Not right for formal events
  • Not right for extreme summers

2. Poplin Shirt Fabric

lightblue poplin shirt fabric

Another amazing fabric that you can choose for your dress shirts is the poplin fabric. Though it is quite similar to oxford in terms of weight, poplin has a much smoother and finer texture. This is because of the fine yard used for weaving with a thicker yarn interweaving. Because of this smooth and silky texture, it is quite soft and comfortable to be worn. It is great for summers as it is breathable in nature and can keep you cool.

How to style it?

The dress shirts made up of poplin fabric is usually styled with longer back and front so that you can tuck the shirt into your trousers properly. It will remain seated and will not come loose.

man wearing tucked in blue poplin dress shirt

It looks best with barrel cuffs along with buttons. Keep the detailing to as minimal as possible with no pockets. The poplin shirts are best for everyday business looks, formal occasions and ceremonies. You can style this with a blazer or a coat to make it look more formal. Deep colors like navy blue, maroon and black looks best for poplin shirts.

Special care: Poplin shirts are quite easy to take care of. But it will not wear that well if you wash it in hot water. Wash the poplin shirt at a maximum of 30 degree Celsius and don't tumble-dry it.

man wearing blue poplin smart dress shirt

Pros:

  • Very lightweight and soft
  • Comfortable to be born all the time
  • Every color looks great on it
  • Perfect for formal events

Cons:

  • Fabric is quite prone to wrinkles

3. Twill Shirt Fabric

red twill shirt fabric

Another great shirt fabric for your dress shirts is twill fabric. It can be easily recognized because of the significant diagonal texture or weave. The warp threads and weft threads are woven in such a manner that it can create a very distinctive and prominent pattern.

Though twill is thicker than poplin, it is much softer too. These diagonal weaving forms a very rich texture of the shirt but it doesn't sacrifice the formality of this shirt. It has very crisp look and feels quite great against the skin.

How to style it?

The twill is an evergreen fabric that usually looks best with button-down style and pockets in the front. This material can look quite stylish with plain trousers or even jeans. You can wear this with short sleeves as well as long sleeves. Be it for travelling or for business wear, a twill shirt can never go wrong.

bearded guy wearing dark violet twill shirt

Style your short-sleeved twill shirt with chinos or jeans for a great travel look. You can also style the long-sleeved twill shirt tucked into trousers neatly for formal events.

Special care: Because of the strong and durable quality, twill doesn't need much of the special care. You can wash the twill shirts gently in cold water. If the shirt is printed, wash and iron it inside out to protect the prints. Avoid tumble drying, soaking, bleaching and rubbing.

diamond twill shirting fabric

Pros:

  • Resistant to creases and wrinkles
  • Very soft and comfortable
  • Right fabric for all purposes
  • Drapes quite well on your body

Cons:

  • It is a bit heavier than most of the other fabrics available

4. Broadcloth Shirt Fabric

different colors of broadcloth fabric

People often think that broadcloth fabric is the poplin fabric. But it is not! The weaves of the poplin and broadcloth fabrics are quite similar but broadcloth fabric is more densely packed. It is quite popular among the men as it is light weight and smooth with no such pattern embedded in its weaves. Here the fabric weave is quite simple where the weft thread and warp thread crisscross one another.

How to style it?

The broadcloth dress shirts look quite classy and versatile. They look quite dressy and can be a perfect shirt for any formal occasion. A white broadcloth shirt can be an excellent dress shirt for wedding or any colored broadcloth shirt can be perfect for business meetings and interviews. It can be worn under the blazer or suit. They are perfect for spring and summer season.

Special care: Wash and rinse the shirt in cold water gently in the machine or you can use hands too. It is better to avoid tumble drying. If you do, then keep it on low.

rolled peach color broadcloth fabric

Pros:

  • Features tight weave with solid appearance
  • Very smooth and comfortable on skin
  • Perfect for business and formal attire
  • Comes with exquisite and intricate precision

Cons:

  • Though comfortable, not right for casual wear

5. End on End Shirt Fabric

blue end on end fabric

If you want something light and comfortable for your dress shirt, then you cannot miss the end on end fabric. It is a closely woven, plain fabric which comes with an alternative light and dark thread. It is typically woven with a white colored thread along with any other color to bring a beautiful dimension and texture to the shirt. When you will see the shirt very closely, you can see that pattern but from a distance, it appears as a solid color. It feels and appears quite smooth and light on your skin.

How to style it?

The end on end dress shirts are mainly for the business or formal looks. These shirts look perfect with coats, blazers and formal trousers. Pastel shades like peach, light blue etc. look best with the end on end shirts. You can style with simple buttons and a pocket in the front. For the right cut of the end on end shirt, choose a slim fit with long back and front.

man buttoning lavender shirt in end on end fabric

Special care: Use fabric softener while washing the end on end shirt. Use cold to warm water. Don't tumble-dry it. Make sure to hand the shirt to dry and stretch the cuffs as well as the collar.

Pros:

  • Beautiful draping with soft texture
  • Very comfortable to wear
  • Perfect for business and formal events
  • Very durable and looks classy

Cons:

  • Fabric is not very breathable in nature

Here, in this video... is all about cotton. Know what it is, what it's not, the differences in qualities, the impact on environment and what to look when you actually buy it.

6. Fine Cotton Shirt Fabric

light brown fine cotton fabric

Cotton is one of the best fabrics for your dress shirts. If you are looking for a great shirt fabric for your everyday wear, then fine cotton is always the best choice. It is different from the normal cotton as it feels lighter and softer on your skin. The fine cotton is made from the fine yarns and is made up of 100% cotton. Fine cotton is also known as chintz. They look quite attractive with a natural look to it.

How to style it?

The best part of the fine cotton shirts is that it can be styled in different ways. Whether you want it to be worn as a casual wear without tucking them or want to pair with formal wear by tucking them, everything looks great. You can choose mandarin collar or the down collar style for your fine cotton shirts. They are so versatile that every color shade, be it light or deep, looks great.

hanged different styles of cotton shirts

Special care: Good news is that fine cotton shirts are the easiest to maintain. Wash them in machine in cold water and tumble dry them in low. Don't bleach them!

Pros:

  • Very comfortable and soft
  • Perfect for spring and summer
  • Versatile in nature and looks very attractive
  • Breathable fabric for super comfort

Cons:

  • Can be expensive at times
  • Can get wrinkles easily

7. Linen Shirt Fabric

tangerine color linen fabric

Linen is one of the best fabrics that you can use for your dress shirts. This fabric is soft, comfortable, breatable and light which is often made from the fibers of the flax plant. Being a strong fabric which dries quite faster than cotton, it has become a favorite for many people lately. It has some distinctive characteristics which make this fabric quite unique. It also stands out and looks great!

How to style it?

Whether it is a casual shirt for a vacation or outing or a perfect outfit for summer weddings, linen shirts can be the best. Style it with simple buttons and loosely cuffed sleeves. You can pair it with jeans or even trousers and shorts, depending on which occasion you are styling for.

linen fabric shirts

The linen dress shirts look perfect in lighter color like white, being, light pink, light blue etc. The line shirts look best for casual and semi-formal looks only. They are not right for business meetings and other formal events.

Special care: Linen fabric comes with loose weave and it is better to wash them with hand or very gently in machine. Wash them in lukewarm water. Never ever use cold or hot water; just room temperature. Hang them straight to dry.

man wearing light stripes linen shirt at the beach

Pros:

  • Soft and comfortable for summer
  • Very light in weight and breathable fabric
  • Looks stunning and stylish
  • Easy to carry in hot summer days

Cons:

  • Susceptible to creases and wrinkles
  • Not right for formal events

8. Seersucker

dark blue seersucker fabric

Sounding like a hideous monster that might be found at the bottom of the ocean (we assure you it is not!), the seersucker is a weave dating back to British colonial period. Used in the south of the US during the American Civil war, and popularized as we know it today in the 1950’s as a more formal shirt to wear, the Seersucker is the perfect weave for warner weather.

The Seersucker, aka the railroad stripe, is distinguished as having a noticeably puckered appearance. It is said that the puckering is done to help airflow and this heavy texture keeps only so much of the shirt in contact with your body at any one time, hence why it is known as such a great fabric for warmer weather.

How to style it?

The most common looks for the seersucker include stripped and checks, and it is the perfect weave for a casual evening out on the town. However, it also does just fine styling it as you would many other fabrics under a blazer, worn with chinos, or even styled with just a white T-shirt; it’s highly versatile.

men dressing up wearing seersucker fabric suit

Given the puckered nature of the seersucker, this is one weave we always recommend to have tailored to a tighter fit than normal. This does not mean skin tight, but if you prefer to wear a baggy type shirt we would advise you against this fabric. The reason is the entire shirt tends to look crumpled and bunched up if too loose, however, when tailored to fit it maintains it form in manner that has you looking smart!

Special care:

You can machine wash a Seersucker shirt in cold water, but try to use a mild detergent. Hang drying is recommended, but you can also machine dry.

seersucker fabric pants with pink socks and brown leather shoes

Pros:

  • Naturally cool weave for hot weather
  • Unique weaving style
  • Provides a nice “preppy” look

Cons:

  • Likely not right for formal events
  • If you’re a fan of highly starched and iron shirts, this is not your fabric

 

Conclusion

These are the 8 most popular fabrics that are available for dress shirts. As you can see each shirt fabric has its unique features and you can style them in diverse ways. Having one shirt at least from each of these fabrics can be a great addition for your wardrobe, and allow you to rotate through with different pants to have far more outfits than just the 8 shirts. You never know when it will be a perfect time to wear that dress shirt for a perfect occasion.

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