High quality custom dress shirt fabrics are most often made from natural fibers which include cotton or linen and cotton/linen blends. Sometimes silk is also used for dress shirts but in general it is too soft and does not produce a crisp appearance but silk can be blended with cotton to produce custom dress shirt fabrics with a lustrous sheen.
Mostly, mass-produced dress shirts are made from cotton blends that include polyester or viscose and other synthetic fibers but these blends cannot achieve the look and feel of natural fibers. Synthetic fibers are more stiff and don’t breathe like cotton and linen, therefore, shirts made from synthetic blends are not as comfortable whereas natural materials produce a softer, comfortable and better-fitted dress shirt.
Best cotton for custom dress shirt fabrics is premium 100% Egyptian cotton which is considered to be the finest cotton fiber in the world. This type of cotton has the longest and strongest fibres
In addition to the origin of its fibre the quality of cotton dress shirt fabrics is also judged by the thread count. Thread count refers to the number of lengthwise threads and widthwise threads used in an inch of woven fabric. As a general rule for cotton shirting, the higher the thread count the more luxurious is the shirting.
Various names are used to describe cotton dress shirt fabrics derived from the way the cotton fibers are woven to produce the fabric and some of the most popular weaves are:
100% Cotton Dress Shirts
Cotton is a comfortable shirting fabric that breathes well and can be tailored for a perfect fit. Several different methods are used to weave cotton for custom dress shirts, thus creating a variety of different weights and effects. Smoother weaves and higher thread counts are used as formal dress shirt fabric.
Natural fibers such as linen and silk are sometimes blended with cotton to add texture or sheen. However, synthetic fibers like polyester, viscose and rayon may also be blended with cotton to create a more wrinkle-resistant fabric. For a softer, custom dress shirt 100% cotton or cotton blended with a natural fiber is an ideal selection.
Linen Dress Shirts
Linen is sometimes used for warm weather casual dress shirts as it is a highly absorbent fabric that conducts heat and moisture away from the body. The Linen’s finish is smooth and has a high natural luster.
Oxford Dress Shirts
Plain oxford dress shirt fabrics have no sheen and are traditionally used for casual dress shirts with button-down collars. The Pinpoint oxford is woven from finer threads and has a smoother and more formal appearance and is used for casual and business dress shirts. The Royal oxford is smoother still and is appropriate for business and formal attire.
Twill Dress Shirts
Twill shirting is strong and durable and typically has a more lustrous finish than oxford. Their diagonal pattern in the weave of twill adds interesting texture to solid-colored and white shirts. If Twill has a high thread count, it shows a crisp quality which is ideal as a formal dress shirt fabric.
Herringbone Dress Shirts
The name ‘herringbone’ is derived from the herring fish as the pattern resembles the skeleton of a fish. The Herringbone shirting has a subtle striped effect that shown to best effect when the fabric is white or a solid colour. Herringbone dress shirt fabrics can be used for either casual or more formal dress shirts, depending upon their thread count.
Poplin/Broadcloth Dress Shirts
Poplin is a comfortable and durable dress shirt fabric suitable for a variety of dress shirt options from casual to more formal. Its smooth finish and broadcloth shows color well and is ideal for printed patterns and woven striped dress shirts.
Pinpoint Dress Shirts
It is slightly heavier than broadcloth or poplin. If plain oxford is reserved for casual button-down dress shirts then pinpoint is suited for business or formal wear. Its versatility, a lustrous surface and interesting texture makes it a popular choice for custom dress shirts.