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Dress Shirt Fabric and Weaves | How to Choose The Right One For You

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Dress Shirt Fabric

I often find myself talking about the fit and structure of men’s dress shirts more than anything. However, dress shirt fabric is equally important. So I wanted to draw attention to the various fabrics used, so that you know which ones are most suitable for your needs.

Fabric like 100% cotton is the main material used in dress shirts. But there are many other fabrics that are worthy of your consideration. Depending on the event you are attending, the right fabric can make all the difference in your appearance. So let’s jump right in and explore your dress shirt fabric options.

Various Dress Shirt Fabrics

The right dress shirt fabric can drastically affect the way you look and feel. A lighter fabric, for example, will help keep you cool and comfortable at an event that’s in a warmer environment. Of course, fabric affects your clothing style, as well. 

Let’s examine the different fabrics you’ll come across in dress shirts. Once you have a clearer understanding of what each fabric type does and the purpose it serves, you’ll find it’s much easier to select the right dress shirts for your various needs.


broadcloth dress shirt fabric

This fabric, usually called poplin, is tightly woven and has a very simple weave structure and very little sheen. Thanks to these characteristics, broadcloth is both beautiful and professional. The fabric itself is thin and light fabric. 

White broadcloth in particular tends to be mildly translucent. And due to the lack of texture, broadcloth is usually the smoothest wearing of all fabrics. However, they are also the easiest to wrinkle.


Broadcloth is a dense plain weave cloth historically made from wool. And the defining characteristic of broadcloth is not its finished width but that it is woven wider and then subjected to even more milling. Traditionally, broadcloth was worked over with a heavy wooden hammer in hot soapy water in order to reduce it to the necessary width. 

The primary effect of the milling process is to draw the yarn tighter than what’s achievable in the loom. This combines the individual fibers of the wool during the felting process to form a dense, blind face cloth. Moreover, the cloth has a hard drape, which helps to give it its varying degree of weather resistance and abrasion resistance. Perhaps most appealing is its ability to be cut without needing hemming. 

Broadcloth was made in several places in England at the end of the Middle Ages. The raw material that was often used was short-staple wool, which is carded and spun into yarn. Then, it is woven into a 1.75-yard-wide cloth on a wide loom. 

It then gets fulled, which usually takes place in a fulling mill. Once fulled, the fibers of the cloth felt together, creating a smooth surface.


denim fabric

We all know that denim is the fabric of our jeans. But in terms of structure, denim is a kind of twill fabric — a sturdier, sometimes coarser twill, usually dyed with indigo. 

When it comes to denim shirts, however, you will usually find fabrics that are softer and lighter than jeans. Denim shirts can come in many forms. But usually, the inner color is different from the outer color.


Denim is a sturdy cotton warp textile in which the weft thread passes through two or more warp threads. This twill weave produces diagonal ribbing, which makes it different from cotton duck. 

Although the predecessor of denim, known as dungaree, has been produced in India for hundreds of years, the denim that is globally recognized today was originally produced in Nimes, France.

You can buy denim in many different colors, but the most common denim is indigo denim, in which the warp threads get dyed, but the weft threads are left white. Due to the warp twill weave, one side of the fabric is dominated by blue warp threads, while the other side is dominated by white weft threads. 

Therefore, the inside of jeans made of this fabric is mainly white. Denim has been regularly used in the United States since the mid-19th century. The fabric became popular in 1873 when a tailor from Nevada named Jacob W. Davis produced the first rivet-reinforced “jeans.”

The production process of all denim is roughly the same: 

  • Cotton fiber is spun into yarn 
  • Some yarns are dyed, and some are left white 
  • Yarn is woven on shuttle loom or projectile loom 
  • The resulting product is then sanforized

Most denim yarn is made up entirely of cotton. Interestingly, some denim yard is used in spandex as an elastic component. Although only 3% of denim goes into the entire spandex product, it’s all that’s needed to give the stretchy material its elasticity.



Twill weave fabrics are easy to recognize because they show diagonal weave or texture. This diagonal effect can range from very fine and subtle twill to larger imperial or cavalry twill. 

Moreover, twill almost always has a little sheen, but the degree may depend on varying factors, including weave, color, and cotton. Twill is an incredibly tight weave that can take a very high number of threads, some of which may be mistaken for silk. 

Due to the twill texture, the twill fabric is softer than broadcloth fabric and is easier to drape. However, twill will not give you a “crisp” appearance like that found in broadcloth that has just been pressed, but it is relatively easy to iron and wrinkle-resistant.


Twill is a textile weave with a diagonal parallel rib pattern. It is one of the three basic textile weave types together with plain weave and satin weave. 

It is made by passing the weft thread through one or more warp threads, and then through two or more warp threads, and so on, with a “step” or offset between the rows to create a characteristic diagonal pattern. Because of this structure, twill fabrics usually have a good drape.

Twill fabric technically has a both front and back side, which is different from plain weave, which is the same on both sides. The front of the twill is called the “technical face,” and the back is called the “technical back.” The technical face of the twill fabric is the side with the most visible wale. As such, it is generally more durable and attractive. It is also the side visible during the weaving process.

If the technical face has warp floats —where the warp crosses two or more wefts — there will be filling floats, causing the weft to cross two or more warps on the technical back. If the wale is up to the right on one side, it will also go up and to the left on the other side. Essentially, twill fabric doesn’t have a distinction between “up” and “down” during the weaving process. 



chambray fabric

Chambray is a plain weave, which means that it has a structure similar to carded fabric, although it is usually made with thicker threads and is more suitable for casual or workwear. There are uneven colors. It can be compared with an end-to-end, although chambray is usually much heavier in clothing and is more suitable for casual wear.


To fully understand chambray, we have to first look at cambric fabric. Cambric, or batiste, is one of the thinnest and densest fabric types. It’s a plain weave fabric that is particularly lightweight. Originally woven from the Commune of Cambrai in France. It was originally linen, but later the term was applied to cotton fabric. 

Chambray is the same fabric with a colored backing (usually blue or gray) and white filling. In the early 19th century, the name “chambray” replaced cambric in the United States. 

Although chambray is the same type of fabric as cambric, the former has a colored base fabric and white wefts. What’s more, chambray can be made in any color you want, whether it’s the warp or the filling.

Oxford Cloth

oxford cloth

Oxford cloth is very similar to the pinpoint variation of Oxford cloth. The difference is that it uses a heavier thread and loose fabric. It has a slightly rough texture, but it is more durable than most fabrics. In addition, it is composed of symmetrical basketweaves, one of which can pass through two threads. 

Originally designed for sportswear, it is the least elegant and (depending on where you are) not suitable for formal or office wear. Oxford fabric has always been an indispensable part of traditional American button Polo shirts. If it is slightly wrinkled or taken directly from the clothes dryer, Oxford looks suitable to wear without ironing.


Oxford fabrics were originally manufactured in a Scottish fabric factory in the 19th century and had a rich tradition. Part of which is the interesting fact that Oxford shirts are one of four shirt fabrics named after universities. For better or worse, Yale and the others didn’t catch on quite like Oxford. 


white dobby fabric weave

Dobby is very similar to Jacquard but technically different. Some versions are very similar to fabric in thickness and weight, while other versions may be thicker or more woven and look almost like twill. 

One notable feature of dobby fabric is that it can contain many different fibers, such as cotton, nylon, or silk, and can be made in various patterns, colors, and weights. The color of the warp and weft can be the same or different, which of course enhances the delicate texture. 

The most famous dobby material is probably pique, which is most commonly used in polo shirts. If the fabric is woven with very fine yarns, it is slightly raised and very comfortable. If you need more texture than dobby fabric, you can choose a formal dress shirt. 

Dobby fabrics are usually a popular choice for striped and plaid shirts due to their texture, and the patterns can be very complementary. You’ll find many dobby fabrics with woven stripes, but there are some that have solid colors. Moreover, the solid-colored dobby usually has its designs woven the same color as its bases, such as stripes or dots.


Dobby fabric is a kind of woven fabric woven on a special loom. This technology and loom first appeared in the 1840s, enabling weavers to raise and lower the warp individually (vertically), thereby creating unique small geometric patterns on the fabric. 


flannel fabric

Flannel is a favorite for many people to wear in autumn and winter. Flannel is a warm, fluffy fabric, usually made of brushed twill or brushed poplin. Although they are usually made of 100% cotton, sometimes they can also be made of cotton and wool blends or even cotton and cashmere.

These combinations serve to provide the wearer with extra warmth. As such, flannel is a fabric that is highly suitable for cold weather. Moreover, it makes excellent sleepwear for both kids and adults. You’ll also find blankets and other bedding made of flannel due to its warming abilities.

If you require warm clothing for an event, flannel will certainly do the trick. However, the fabric will limit your options in what you can wear. If you’re in a less formal setting, flannel can work just fine. But a black-tie event is out of the question.


The origin of the word is unknown, but it is speculated that it originated in Wales as a flannel-like fabric that was known there as early as the 16th century. Known as Welsh cotton, it had a thick wool fabric with fluffy material on the surface.

The French term “flanelle” was used in the late 17th century, while the German term “flanell” was used early in the 18th century. 

Flannel was produced in the 17th century and gradually replaced the old Welsh plains, some of which ended with cotton or ribbon ornaments, which is a coarse wool cloth, a local textile product. In the 19th century, flannel was mainly produced in cities such as Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Hay-on-Wye, and Llanidloes. 

The expansion of production is closely related to the expansion of the carding mill, which prepares wool for the spinning mill, which is the first aspect of wool fabric production to be processed (except for the cloth mill). 

Much of Welsh’s woolen clothes were marketed by the Drapers company. At one juncture, the characteristics of Lancashire, Welsh, Yorkshire, and Irish flannel were slightly different. This was mainly due to the raw wool used in different places, where some were softer and finer than others.

This is achieved by mixing different proportions of brown, white, black, and blue wool. Lighter tones are obtained by bleaching with sulfur dioxide.



End-on-end is a very popular shirt fabric with eye-catching contrasting colors. The warp thread is colored yarn, and the weft thread is woven with white yarn. It looks like a solid color from a distance but has a texture when viewed up close. 

Generally speaking, for people living in warm climates, this lighter fabric is an excellent choice. I find end-on-end to work well in this regard, as it provides a breezy dress shirt choice that works to reduce discomfort and sweating in warmer locales.


The term end-to-end comes from the French fil-a-fil, which translates to “thread-to-thread.” The fabric is mainly made of cotton or linen. Oftentimes, colored lines contrast with white lines to create a subtle appearance. 

Some textile manufacturers choose the second color and even insert very thin strips in the fabric to obtain different visual depths.

Wrap Up

Dress shirt fabric constitutes a wide range of clothing options for men and women. Choosing the right fabric option for your dress shirts plays a significant role in both your look and feel. As such, it’s important to make sure that you invest and dress appropriately for the various events you attend.



1. What is the best material for a dress shirt?

Dress shirts are usually made from cotton because it is the most breathable, durable, and comfortable material. Moreover, cotton fibers are strong enough to allow for a range of weave patterns and thread counts.

2. What is a weave shirt?

We speak of shirt textiles or dress shirt fabrics when we refer to the fabric's actual weave. Cloths are made by weaving cotton threads (called warp and weft) together. There are many ways to weave cotton threads together.

3. Should dress shirts be 100 cotton?

Dress shirts made entirely of cotton are the finest. Synthetic fibers are not as durable, breathable, or pleasant as cotton, and they significantly reduce the lifespan of a shirt. You will not be able to keep starch in polyester mix clothing if you take it.

4. What fabric is used for formal shirts?

About 85-90 percent of quality formal shirts are made of cotton. Linen is a promising fabric that provides much more comfort than cotton. Not just for summer, it is becoming more and more popular in fashion. Two-ply yarns are used to create quality shirts, with fine counts ranging from 2 x 80s to as fine as 2 x 140s.

5. What fabric is best for formal shirts?

For formal shirts, linen is one of the best fabrics. Flax fibers are commonly used to produce this fabric, which is soft, pleasant, breathable, and lightweight. Many individuals choose this fabric because it is a robust fabric that dries much faster than cotton.