When it comes to buying shirts most people just opt for a cotton shirt in whatever size fits them. This is fine for everyday wear, but read this article and you'll discover a whole range of shirting fabric and weaves you may not have known existed! Think about what occasion you'll wear the shirt for. Will it be casual or formal?
A brief overview of cotton
Cotton is the most popular fabric for shirts, but there are several different types. Egyptian cotton is different as it's not only hard wearing but as the name suggests is perfect for hot climates. The fibres are longer and of a superior quality. A unique feature is that the material gives off a shine when exposed to sunlight.
Denim is very versatile and hard wearing. Denim shirts are perfect for everyday casual wear both for men and women. It has a unique twill weave created using fine interwoven blue and white yarns. Denim can be prewashed and sand blasted to give a fashionable worn appearance.
Cotton-poly mix shirts may be easier to iron, but they don't breathe well. They don't feel as comfortable to wear as 100% cotton, but on the up side they are very easy to wash.
Most flannel fabric is made from 100% cotton. It has a fuzzy appearance and is very warm to wear. It can also be blended with wool or cashmere. Most flannel shirts are great for everyday and casual wear.
Dress shirts are often made from broadcloth, or poplin as it's commonly known. It's a very plain fabric with a simple weave giving it a more formal look.
Linen is made from the fibres of the flax plant. Like cotton it's a purely natural product, and shirts made from linen are very cool in the summer. The only drawback is that it creases very easily. A good tip is to always fold linen shirts flat with tissue paper in between.
An overview of weaves
Just like shirtmaking fabrics there are different types of weaves.
Weaves are done on a loom or frame. The warp refers to lengthways yarns held in tension on the frame, and the weft refers to yarns woven over and under. The type of weave used can create very different looks.
The oxford weave is based on the old style basket weave. It's slightly coarser but has a soft feel to it. Originally oxford weave fabric was made for sportswear as it's durable and doesn't crease easily. Oxford weave shirts are usually more affordable and make great casual wear.
Voile weave is light and airy and gives a sheer almost see through finish. Shirts made from voile are ideal for warm summer weather.
Twill and Herringbone weaves are very similar. The threads are woven to form a criss-cross pattern. Shirts made from twill fabric tend to be a bit more expensive, and less prone to wrinkling. Different textures and weave patterns are created with twill such as the herringbone zig zag. This particular weave pattern dries quickly and is easy to iron.
End on end weave is considered a classic, it’s created using alternate light and dark warp and weft threads. Shirts made from an end on end weave tend to have a very subtle two tone effect.
There are many more shirting fabrics and weaves than I've covered in this brief introduction, but I hope it's given you some idea of what's available.