In any man’s life, the importance of dressing well is mostly underrated. However, more and more men are now acutely aware of not just what they are wearing, but also the minutiae that goes into the entire outfit. It’s the simple details that can help one stand apart from the rest! This starts with getting a well-fitted, custom-made shirt.
Every shirt is a combination of its weave, thread count and fiber which determines the final look and feel of the product. Whether it’s a dress shirt for work, or a casual button-down for your weekends, you’ll know exactly what you want. For the beginners out there, here’s a crash course on knowing the differences between the yarns, the fabrics and the most appropriate occasions to wear them at.
The process of crafting the perfect custom-made shirt starts with the fabric.
The bases of any fabric is the materials chosen to weave it – the most common being Cotton and Linen. Known for its long staples and superior quality 100% Egyptian Cotton is the premier choice of shirting fabric. 100% Linen is a strong, durable material, best used in warm weather.
Listed below are a few basic fabrics that are must-haves in every man’s wardrobe.
The quintessential shirting fabric, Poplin or Broadcloth bears little texture, with its tightly woven, over-under weave pattern creating a thin, soft, smooth and lightweight fabric. The higher the thread count, the more luxurious is the fabric. Most suited in solid shades, Poplins are breathable, making them the ideal choice to wear in the summers, or under jackets and blazers for formal occasions. A stiff Prince Charlie or Spread collar and French cuffs suit this fabric very well.
Even though Oxford fabric has a slightly coarse and heavy texture, it is a soft, breathable and durable fabric to wear on a daily basis. Known for its characteristic ‘basket’ weave, choose this fabric you’re your casual shirts, paired with a Polo or Prepster collar. A versatile option for every wardrobe. Royal Oxford is a finer, dressier variation, ideal to pair with a sharp suit and expensive tie.
The Dobby weave is created using small geometric patterns that repeat throughout the fabric. Solid coloured Dobby shirts tend to have a faint stripe or dotted patterns woven in the same colour as the base cloth. This slightly weighted fabric’s uniquely patterned nature and hard-to-wrinkle structure proves to be an excellent choice for workwear shirts. A solid or patterned Dobby shirt, paired with a formal collar like the Spread, Madmen or Ozwald Boateng collar and Double cuffs
A popular weave, Twill is easily recognizable for its distinctive diagonal ribbed texture which looks great in solid colours. Twill fabrics are soft, heavier and more durable that their counterparts, and drape easier as well. Twill won’t give you the same “crisp” look that freshly pressed Poplin can, but it’s relatively easy to iron and resistant to wrinkles. Twill shirts work well for situations that call for smart informals.
The Twill weave also has some popular variations, namely the Herringbone and Houndstooth fabrics. While the former fabric’s zigzagging ‘wale’ construction is more suited to elegant formal affairs, the latter’s houndstooth pattern makes for an interesting style for semi-formal and casual styles.
Linen fabrics are cool and perfect for even the hottest summer days. Linen fabric feels cool to the touch. It is light and smooth, making the finished fabric lint-free, which gets softer with every wash. Linen also tends to wrinkle more easily than cotton and generally feels much more relaxed because of this. For a casual linen pair, pair it with a classic collar and half sleeves. For a more youthful vibe, choose your linen shirt with a contrasting Bandhgala or Evil Pandit collar and roll-up sleeves.
The other significant factors to consider while choosing your shirt are the ‘Ply’ and Fabric Count.
Ply refers to the number of yarns that are twisted together to make a single thread. Typically, dress fabrics can either be Single ply or Double /Two ply. The fabric count refers to the yarn size, and as a rule of thumb, the higher the thread count, the more luxurious (and expensive) you can expect the fabric to be.
However, the hand feel, thickness and smoothness of the fabric depends equally on the number of threads used, and the compactness of the construction of the woven fabric itself.
The 2 in a 100/2’s or the 1 in the 70/1 refer to the ply of the fabric.
The 100 in a 100/2 or the 70 in the 70/1 refer to the count of the fabric.
Ultimately, knowing the basic characteristics of what goes into the making of a custom-made shirt will help you decide what you need depending on the occasion. While the points mentioned above are just the beginning. Your final shirt will reflect your style, preferences and customisations you choose to create it!