A Men's Shirt Fabric Guide: From Oxford, Poplin to Twill and More

The older we get, the more we care about the quality of our clothes. Out of all the men's choice of garments, a good shirt is definitely the most versatile. And by saying a ‘good’ one, we mean both quality and suitability of your needs. The mainstream fabrics for shirts on the market can be divided into four: cotton, blended, synthetic, and linen. The most common is cotton shirts and today we will focus on introducing cotton shirts. After reading this shirt fabric weave guide, you should be able to tell the pros and cons simply by referring to its name.

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First you need to know what is YARN

Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibers that is used to weave fabric. It refers to the yarn size, the higher the thread count, the thinner, the more luster and expensive the fabric is, but a greater tendency to wrinkle.


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The most common and popular shirt fabric. Oxford shirt is named as it is invented by a group of students at Oxford University in early 20th century. It is also later used in making Oxford University’s uniforms. Known for its characteristic 'basket' weave, the fabric is usually reserved for casual shirts. The fabric is soft, breathable, and durable, making it perfect to wear on a daily basis. Although it is slightly coarse and heavy, it is thicker and warmer. As the weather is getting chillier, you should consider adding a few more Oxford shirts to your fall and winter wardrobe.


If Oxford is a "girl", then Poplin should be the "tough guy" in shirting. Compared to the Oxford shirt, it is more formal and expensive. The quintessential shirting fabric has a higher thread count so it bears little texture. Its tightly woven, over-under weave pattern created a thin, crisp, lightweight and almost silk-like smooth fabric. The thin and lightweight fabric is an ideal choice to wear in summer. Plus the crisp and wrinkle-resistant characteristics, it is perfect for formal and business occasions.

Pinpoint Oxford

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While Oxford is for causal and Poplin is for formal, Pinpoint Oxford lays between the two. Pinpoint Oxford has the same weave as Oxford cloth, but it uses a finer yarn and tighter weave. Think of them as a great everyday work shirt.

△ Van Heusen Pinpoint Oxford Shirt  US$25.55 – 51.69 (~HK$200 - 405)

Van Heusen Pinpoint Oxford Shirt US$25.55 – 51.69 (~HK$200 - 405)


A popular weave. Twill is easily recognizable for its distinctive diagonal ribbed texture. Twill fabrics are softer, more luster than their counterparts. Also, it is relatively easy to iron and resistant to wrinkles, the only bad thing is that it is less crisp than Poplin, but still very good for those who need to wear a shirt every day to work.


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End-on-end broadcloth is a very popular type of shirt fabric with a distinct contrast coloring. Woven with colored thread in the warp and white thread in the weft, it appears to have more depth and texture when seen from up close. The light and soft fabric is perfect for those who live in somewhere hot and humid like the summer time in Hong Kong. It is also a good dress shirt option other than Poplin.