The Different Weaves of Gentlemen’s Shirts

Published: 24th February 2010
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For many people there's not much between one shirt and the next. They all have collars and cuffs, right? This is of course true, but if you look closer, you'll notice that a gentleman's shirt is defined not by its mother of pearl buttons, but by its unique weave.

There are a great variety of fabric weaves for men's shirts, from the Oxford, to the Chambray, and each one deserves an explanation. But before we get into the finer details of yarns, I think we need a general clarification of what fabric weaving actually is.

Weaving is the process by which two different sets of yarns, the weft and the warp, are intertwined with each other to form a fabric. The weft is the yarn that is drawn over and under the warp, running side to side of the fabric; the warp runs lengthways.

Take yourself back to your childhood and surely you can remember wrestling with strips of reed, desperately trying to make a lovely basket? Well, while obviously much simpler, fabric weaving is principally the same process.

When we start to think about men's shirt weaves, we see that a lot rests on the quality of the weave, and a gentleman would be wise to choose his fabric carefully!

The Pinpoint Oxford weave is traditional and durable, and is characterized by its fine, soft, and lightweight qualities. It combines the fine texture of 100% two-fold cotton poplin with the sturdiness of the Oxford broadcloth, creating a casual and sporty shirt that is both elegant and hardwearing.

But while the Pinpoint Oxford provides a reliable and everyday durability for the discerning gentleman, the Royal Oxford weave steps up to the mark with its lustrous and regal qualities. Made using the finest of yarns, a shirt of this calibre must only be paired with the plushest of lounge suits, and if you ever catch sight of a gentleman donning this fine piece of attire with jeans, be sure to inform the police.

Another dressy number is the Poplin weave, which is noted for being incredibly comfortable and breathable. This weave is also very fine and is so soft you won't be able to keep your hands off your chest. But although it's a fine and dressy fabric, its yarns are tightly woven, making the Poplin surprisingly durable.

Chambray, originally from the French city of Cambrai, has both dressy and casual qualities. It is woven using alternating coloured threads, usually white and blue, which creates an understated textured effect. This weave is incredibly diverse and has its place both in the office, and paired with a stylish tailor-made suit.

Herringbone weave takes its name from, you've guessed it, the skeleton on the herring. The interesting zigzag texture gives these shirts a unique edge, and again lends itself well to both casual and smart wear.

Lastly, we come to Twill. Characterized by its diagonal ribbing, this shirt takes colour beautifully, and the quality of the diagonal lines creates a noticeable depth. Its vibrancy creates a stylish and fashionable look, and is a great shirt for a day at the races!

So, next time you gaze across at the herd of businessmen in their tailor-made shirts, you'll know that each chest is donned with a carefully selected weave, be it the Broadcloth or the Herringbone. There really is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to a gentleman's shirt!

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