Many people will buy a shirt based on instinct. How does it look? How does it feel? And most will probably also ask themselves ¨What do I think of the price? ¨ But with having just a little bit more background information, it becomes much easier to understand the differences between dress shirts.
In this article we will look at the types of weave you will most commonly find in dress shirts. Because reading on the label ´80s 2 ply Oxford´ might sounds fancy, it is of no use if you don´t understand what it means.
For the quality of the cloth there are a few thing that you need to know:
- Type of weave
- Thickness of the thread
Type of weave
Before we start explaining the differences in weaves, it is important for you to know that woven fabrics are made with one vertical threads, called warp, which are fixed on the (industrial) weaving loom. And horizontal threads, which are called weft, and are woven through the warp. The way the weft is woven through the warp determines which weave the fabric is.
Broadcloth and Poplin
Broadcloth is a fabric which is fairly tightly woven, using thin threads. It is the simplest weave, and has nice clean look. Making it ideal for men who are looking for professional business shirts, with little texture in the fabric.
Broadcloth is usually thin and light, making it an ideal fabric for summer shirts, of if you work in warmer climates a lot.
A very similar fabric is Poplin. The only difference is that for Broadcloth the warp and weft are the same ´weight´ of thread. Whereas for Poplin the weight of those two could be different. Later in this article we will explain how the weight of thread is determined.
Twill is super easy to distinguish as the twill fabrics will show a diagonal texture. This diagonal weave can be everything between fine to very thick. Shirts made of a twill fabric will usually shine a bit.
Twill is woven very tightly and it is softer than Broadcloth. Shirt made of twill are generally wrinkle resistant. Twill dress shirts can be worn year round, although they tend to be a bit warmer, making them ideal for the winter months.
Amongst twill fabrics there is one which is called ´herringbone´, this cloth has like a V-shape and is named after the bones of a fish, because it looks a lot like it. It is one of the most popular cloths for formal dress shirts.
Because of the tight weave, twill (or herringbone) shirts are also a good option if you are looking for a plain white shirt. It is less likely to be transparent and you generally won´t be needing a t-shirt under your dress shirt.
The Oxford weave is a bit rougher than most other weaves. It generally uses a heavier thread and isn´t woven very tightly. The weave was originally created for sportswear, and because of the more casual look it might not be the best option for very formal shirts. But for casual shirts, it is a great pick. Biggest advantage? In general this fabric doesn´t need much ironing and you can wear it straight after washing it. Also, the heavier thread makes it a very sustainable type of fabric.
Sometimes you might find the ´Pinpoint Oxford´ or just ´Pinpoint´. The weave if the same as the Oxford, but the yarn is usually finer and the weave is tighter. Making it more formal than Oxford, but still more casual than Broadcloth, Poplin and twill. Just like the Oxford, Pinpoint is very durable. Great pick for a white or light color shirt too, as Pinpoint fabrics usually are not transparent.
Weight of yarn and ply
The quality and the durability of the fabric is also established by the thickness of the yarn that is used, and the ply.
The finer the yarn, the higher the quality. The weight of the yarn is indicated with a number, followed by the letter ´s´. The higher the number, the finer the yarn, and the softer the fabric / dress shirt will feel.
Besides the weight of the yarn, also the ply plays an important role in how the fabric will feel, the comfort while wearing the shirt and the durability of it.
When a cloth is 1 ply, it means there is only in yarn. When a shirt is 2 ply it means two threads are twisted together before weaving. Cloths made with 2 ply are usually of higher quality, last longer and feel softer. 3ply shirts do exist, but it is fairly uncommon.
The type of weave distinguishes the way the shirt will look, and whether it is a light or a heavier shirt, better used for casual or formal, and making the dress shirt more suitable for winter or summer.
The weight of the thread matters for the ´feel´ of the shirt, meaning the higher the number, the finer the yarn and the softer / higher quality the shirt will be.
Last but not least there is the ply. 2ply shirts last longer and will feel nicer than 1ply shirts.