Cotton Fabric Labels Explained

Posted on January 31st, 2013


Cotton is a widely sought after fabric for custom dress shirts, however it isn’t easy understanding the label and terminology. It wasn’t until recently that I started paying attention to shirting fabrics because I realized that wearing good quality shirts were absolutely necessary for looking sharp and professional! With all the fabric terminology out there, shopping for great custom made dress shirts can be confusing. So for the novices out there, I’m here to explain!

What is it?

Cotton is a natural fiber commonly used to make fabrics for shirts; however there are various types of cotton. Lots of retailers use terms like Egyptian cotton, Sea Island cotton and Pima cotton to describe the fabric. Basically, it describes where the cotton was originated. Is one really better than the other? That depends; it’s really based on personal preferences, since you can’t go wrong with cotton dress shirts.

From Cotton to Fabric

Cotton isn’t really a fabric until it is spun into yarn, which is then woven into a piece of fabric. The thickness of the yarn essentially determines how fine and smooth the fabric will be.  The general rule is, the thinner the yarn, the softer the fabric.  To further explain, thinner yarns produce dress shirts with a higher thread count, do these 80s, 100s, 200s sound familiar? Here’s another way of looking at it, the higher the thread count, the pricier the shirt!

The Type of Weave

Sometimes, the fabrics are characterized by the type of weave, the most popular ones include broadcloth, oxford, pinpoint and twill. Each weave has its own distinctive pattern and design. In most cases, the type of weave can determine how the shirt should be worn. My philosophy is, the finer the weave, the dressier the shirt; while coarser weaves are best left for casual wear.

So why the popularity?

Cotton is in high demand because of it softness, breath-ability and durability. In addition to all those impressive traits, it can also be affordable and luxurious. However, because it’s made from natural fibers, it also requires a little tender, love and care.

Not sure if cotton is right for you?

Not to worry, blended fabrics are just as good. Cotton blended fabrics are also suitable for custom dress shirts. I know what you are thinking, polyester is a bad word. Well, I disagree because blended fabrics are also soft and comfortable. The best part is, it’s also easy to care for! That’s right, you don’t have to worry about shrinking them, ironing them on high heat or taking them to the dry cleaners. In my experience, I find that blended fabrics also provide a little stretch which is quite comfortable. Moreover, it doesn’t wrinkle as quickly in comparison to 100% cotton shirts.

Cotton is ultimately the best shirting fabric out there, pure or blended. The origins, thread count or weave are qualities that need to be considered, however the desired level of affordability and comfort is also important. Why not try a custom made shirt for yourself?

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