Shirt Basics: Getting a Feel for Shirt Fabrics

If someone came up to you and asked what type of weave you’re wearing, what would your response be? No, we’re not talking about hair here. Sometimes knowing the simple details of your wardrobe can help you stand apart from the rest and seem like an expert. Once you know the differences between a few classic shirt fabrics, you’ll be able to look at a shirt, know what type of fabric it is made of, and the occasion most appropriate to wear it, making you look like a pro. If you’re purchasing a custom shirt for the office or a casual button-down to wear during off hours, here are a few key cotton weaves to keep an eye out for:

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Shirt Fabrics

By Joni McKervey



One of our favourites, chambray has become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s made by weaving a colored thread with white, like denim but more refined, making chambray a great fabric option for men who are looking for an office-to-off-hour shirt. This plain weave fabric suits both casual and put-together looks, meaning you can style it in any way you want and still look right for the occasion.


The ideal summer fabric, linen feels cool to the touch and will keep you fresh on the hottest of days. With its natural resistance to stains and pilling, this textured fabric is perfect for those who are looking for a bit more durability when it comes to their shirts. Do keep in mind that linen wrinkles quite easily. Check out these tips for travelling wrinkle free.


A basketweave pattern, usually indicative of an Oxford fabric, is commonly used in the fabrication of dress shirts. This particular fabric is slightly lustrous, but as it’s often made with rougher yarns, it makes for a more casual dress shirt option. Sport this fabric on the weekend or during a casual work outing and you’re guaranteed to be the sharpest of the bunch.


Plain weave fabrics are smooth, lightweight and breathable—perfect for almost every occasion depending on the yarns used. Easily produced in an array of colors and patterns, plain cloth is one of the most highly produced shirt fabrics in the world. Opting for a plain cloth shirt will always be a safe bet, you can never have too many.


Twill is another common textile weave, easily recognized by its distinctive diagonal lines on the outward-facing side of the fabric. It’s a great fabric option if you’re looking for something that will drape well on your body. It’s also perfect for those of you who are keen on a low-maintenance fabric, as twill is less prone to wrinkling and easy to care for.


Of course, if you’re still unsure about what’s right for you or a particular occasion, your Indochino Style Guide will be able to break it down and walk you through it all at one of our showrooms, or you can find out more on our site.