If you’re shopping for a dress shirt, you’d be forgiven for being confused by some of the choices in fabric. Twill? Oxford? Pinpoint Oxford? End-on-end? Dobby? Herringbone? Poplin? If you’re shopping in person, you can see and feel for yourself. If you’re shopping online, the website should ideally offer explicit descriptions and photos of their fabric offerings. Either way, it can be overwhelming for the uninitiated.
My preference in dress shirt fabric is pretty simple: broadcloth, which is a medium-weight plain weave of cotton. As of this writing, I have eight dress shirts. All of them are broadcloth. Other than black tie occasions, I have never encountered a situation that broadcloth didn’t handle gracefully. It’s light enough for warm weather, and robust enough in winter with an undershirt.
Another thing I like about broadcloth is its balance of soft comfort and durability. Sliding on a fresh dress shirt in broadcloth cotton is like sliding into crisp bed sheets. It feels great on the skin and breathes beautifully. As for the durability, my oldest broadcloth shirts are about 5 years old. Though I don’t wear them daily, they get pretty good rotation and they’re still in impressively good shape, Only now are they starting to fray just slightly where the French cuff folds.
While Oxford cloth is a popular weave both soft and sturdy, commonly used in Ivy-style button-down shirts, its heavier weight can be hot in summer.
So if you’re looking to start or reboot a smart dress shirt program with a versatile fabric that can take you more places, consider shirts made with broadcloth. And for fuck’s sake, stick with regular cotton. (My thoughts on non-iron/wrinkle-free Frankenfabrics are no secret. More about that here.)
Thanks for reading.