When you begin shopping for men's dress shirts, do you look for a certain fabric? If not, you should take some time to think about what touches your skin.
Different fabrics have different benefits and caveats, and some are common options for a reason. Also, some fabrics work better for dress shirts than others.
If you want to know about the best fabric for men’s dress shirts, we have listed the top three choices.
We looked into their advantages and disadvantages, as well as when they're best to wear.
We'll also teach you how to choose the right fabric for your body type and needs.
Best Fabric for Men’s Dress Shirts
When it comes to making men's dress shirts, there are few things that manufacturers think about.
That includes what the material feels like on the skin, how hot it is when worn, and what type of cleaning it will need.
When you think about these three things, it is clear that the three main choices will work best in all those areas.
Here are the top three choices and what makes them the best fabric for dress shirts.
Types of Men's Dress Shirt Fabrics
1. Pure Cotton
Cotton is a material that many articles of clothing are made out of, which is no coincidence.
The material is soft against the skin and is comfortable to wear for long periods.
A typical t-shirt that can give you a casual look will usually be made of cotton.
The comfort is not the only thing that makes this material a great option. There are a few other features that make it one of the best.
Cotton shirts are breathable and can help keep you cooler than other fabrics will.
It's fairly thin, though it is durable, and feels nice when you wear it. Also, cotton dress shirts can come in a variety of thread counts.
Some thread counts make the cotton material thicker, which is ideal for the winter months because it will keep you warmer when the weather is cold.
That said, you would not want this high thread count during the summer since it will make you sweat more.
As such, getting a lower thread count cotton will be the best dress shirt fabric for summer.
Cotton is widely available and comes in many styles, but cotton shirts can shrink faster than others.
The average is around 2%, which can make a huge difference when it comes to the fit of a shirt.
Cotton also tends to wrinkle easily compared to its counterparts. The light material can be prone to wrinkling with movement and dampness.
Verdict: The Best Dress Shirt Fabric for Summer
As mentioned, cotton is the best dress shirt fabric for the summer months since it's durable and the most breathable fabric of all three choices.
Cotton dress shirts allow for better airflow when hot, so you wouldn't have as much of an issue with sweating through your shirts.
It also makes cleaning and keeping the shirt looking new easier.
The lightweight material also feels light on you, so it helps cool you down if you just have a small indoor fan.
You no longer need to sit under the AC to get cooled down in the summer, as long as you're wearing a good quality cotton shirt.
Since cotton shirts are cooler than the other options, you also could choose to go with an undershirt.
2. Polyester and Cotton Blend
This material is made by mixing polyester fabric and cotton into the material.
The polyester boosts the durability of cotton and also keeps it from being wrinkled as easily.
These blends often have high percentages of cotton with only a small percentage of polyester. The ratio is typically 8:2.
This material is also a lot cheaper, which means that you can find a lot of dress shirts made of it in many stores.
This makes it widely available and easy to find for those on a budget.
Though this material is made mainly of cotton, it doesn’t have the same benefits and caveats.
The main benefit of this blend is that it can be made for a meager price, so the shirt itself becomes more affordable.
That makes it a good option for those who can’t afford to spend a lot of money on new work clothes.
With a high durability level, the shirt will look good after many washes without it beginning to look shabby.
Though this material has more cotton than polyester, you do not get all of the benefits of cotton. Specifically, it will not have the same breathability level.
Polyester makes the shirt feel much thicker than it would be with just cotton, which can make you sweat more.
If you intend to wear a dress shirt to work in the summer, this is not the one you want.
Also, because the polyester is not the softest material, it can make the shirt feel stiff and scratchy.
Many people find this uncomfortable, and it might even irritate sensitive skin.
Some people also notice the dulling of the shine that usually comes with a soft fabric like cotton. That means the shirt could look like a low-quality option.
Verdict: The Best Option for Winter
There are several caveats with this type of material, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good for something.
Since it tends to seal in heat, wearing it in the winter will help keep you warm.
Also, although it's not as soft, you can wear an undershirt made from cotton. It will add to both the heat and comfort levels.
Being able to wear an undershirt will also help reduce or prevent the scratchiness of the polyester.
It will act as a barrier and keep the scratchier material from touching your skin as much.
This material is one that most people don’t need much convincing to buy.
With the softness of this fabric being one of the best possible, it's super comfortable.
Also, thinking about a silk shirt, you will likely think of high-end options that you see celebrities wearing.
Likely because it's not a common option for people to wear day-to-day.
This material is one of the softest that you can get on the market, making it suitable for special occasions.
Whether you want to wear it to a wedding, anniversary, birthday party, or a holiday event, it will be great.
As a silky material, the dress shirt will feel great on your skin.
Silk also tends to have a cooling effect that can keep you comfortable in higher temperatures.
Also, because silk is soft and flowing, the shirt's shape doesn't need to be as fitted.
Many looks offer an untucked option that works great for flashier occasions.
Silk comes with a smooth look that nothing else can compare to. The silkiness of the shirt allows it to be smooth while you wear it. It always appears luxurious.
The main caveat is the price of this material. It's a luxury option that's priced higher than the other fabrics.
That means shirts made of it might be out of the price range of some people looking for this style.
But that's not the only thing that costs more. You can't machine wash and dry clean silk because it could damage the fabric.
That means you'll pay more for cleaning the shirt and not just the initial price of the product itself.
Also, silk tends to get wrinkled very easily. Sitting down for a long time will bunch up the hem, so you have to be especially careful when cleaning it.
Verdict: The Best for Year-Round Wear
Silk is a good option that you can wear in different climates. It has a cooling effect, which will work well when the weather is warmer.
Keep in mind, though, that when the summer heat gets extreme, you may sweat through the material quickly.
Although silk is not that thick in the winter, it has more to it than you might think. It will keep you warm in moderate winter months.
If you get too cold, just put on a jacket when you are outside. Just don’t wear it in freezing temperatures, or else it could get wet and ruined.
Basically, if you keep it out of extreme weather temperatures, you'll be fine.
Things to Consider When Picking the Right Fabric of Your Dress Shirt
Each of the three options is great for certain things, but not for others.
Depending on when you intend to wear your dress shirt, and for what purpose, you could have more options.
However, you want to go with one that you won’t mind wearing for a long time. Also, you want to have one that will fit well with your body type.
Let’s look at some of the most common issues people have when wearing dress shirts and how you can deal with or fix them.
1. You Sweat Excessively
When you're under the heat, some people will have a difficult time staying cool.
A few different reasons cause this, but the best way to avoid this issue is to get a breathable shirt.
That's why cotton is typically the best option for men and women who sweat easily. This material will keep you cool for longer than others.
You can feel fresher and have less reason to sweat. Even if you're in an office most of the time, wearing a suit with a jacket can get hot.
Having cotton dress shirts will help keep you cool and stop you from sweating through your shirts.
You can say goodbye to having to keep extras in your desk.
2. You Have a Larger Midsection
Most dress shirt materials tend to be stiff, which can look and feel awkward when you have some extra weight around your waist.
You don’t need to cover this, but you don’t want to show off your stomach front and center.
Wearing a polyester and cotton blend tends to be stiffer than other fabrics, which could be less flattering.
Having your shirt bunch up in weird ways around your waist could make you hate your outfit.
So, instead, find a cotton or silk option. As mentioned, cotton shirts are available in different thread counts.
That will ensure you can pick the thickness that will allow the shirt to fit your stomach better.
On the other hand, silk shirts are flashier, but they are considered a fabric that you can keep untucked in a more casual workplace.
If you need to tuck your shirt in, stick with cotton as your best bet.
3. You Have a Small Budget
If you want to buy some professional attire at a price that won’t hurt your wallet, you're not alone.
Many people consider the price of the clothes they buy, especially if they need multiple items.
If you have a tight budget but need to buy some work shirts, you should opt for polyester and cotton blend options.
These shirts are typically more affordable than cotton or silk options.
They also come in many of the same bright or rich colors that the other fabrics do.
As such, you can get an option that is better for your budget and buy a few options to wear to work or special occasions.
However, this is not the softest option around. Thus, if you find some lower thread count cotton options, that would also be a good choice for you.
4. You Don't Have Enough Time to Iron
Dress shirts give you the professional and formal look that you need for work attire, business meetings, and special occasions.
They're easy to pair with any pants and coat, but you need to make sure they're wrinkle- and crease-free. Or, at the very least, there is not too much wrinkle or crease.
On that note, polyester is the material that is most resistant to wrinkling and creasing, while cotton can be prone to little wrinkling but is easy to iron and wash.
Unfortunately, silk fabric is the most prone to wrinkling and creasing, plus it's the hardest to iron and wash.
The Best of the Best
Now that we have discussed the details of each of these three most common dress shirt fabrics, we'll decide on our top choice.
We based it on three different criteria, namely value for price, versatility, and availability.
Value for Price
Cotton dress shirts are not the cheapest when you see the prices of the polyester and cotton blends.
That said, they last a long time and are not unreasonably priced.
Many individuals will likely be able to afford these shirts, especially when opting for low thread count options.
You can look at the tags on the inside of the shirt, which will tell you the exact thread count.
Also, because you can find cotton shirt varieties at many stores, you can check different stores to see which has the lowest price.
When it comes to being versatile, cotton also takes the cake.
Again, cotton dress shirts come in multiple thread counts, which can vary the price and thickness.
If you have a job where you travel to different climates, having shirts that will work in different areas is needed.
Having the best dress shirt fabric for summer when you head to Miami for a conference is ideal.
However, if you have to go to New York in the winter and face snow, you can use a high thread count option to keep you warmer.
This versatility is unmatched by the other two options. Although silk can work in moderate climates, you can sweat through it easily when outside.
You shouldn't wear it in the snow because the fabric might get ruined.
Being able to find a good dress shirt in the store that is close to you is important.
Most people don’t want to search through multiple stores just to find a basic piece for their work clothes.
As such, having options that are available at many different stores can come in handy.
If you have three stores in the area where you can find several choices, you can pick from a variety of dress shirts.
Cotton dress shirts are the most common option because they're the best in many situations.
Many stores carry a variety of different styles and colors in all-cotton fabrics.
That will give you the option to go to whatever store you like and find the shirt you want in a short time.
From the above criteria, it's clear that cotton is the overall winner.
Cotton is a fabric that works for so many reasons, and that's why it has become the most popular fabric for dress shirts.
That is also why we chose it as the best fabric for men’s dress shirts overall.
With the ability to find a cotton dress shirt in your price range, at multiple stores, you'll be able to get the shirts you’re looking for in no time.
Likewise, if you're looking for a dress shirt for a special event, you can find a cotton shirt in plenty of colors and styles.
Whether you're looking for plus-sized clothing, fresh patterns, and styles, or just want a basic white dress shirt for any occasion, you can find a cotton option that’ll work for you.
However, with all the cotton options available, you might have a harder time deciding which one looks better on you!
Wrapping It Up
Dress shirts might not be the most comfortable thing to wear, but they give you a professional look that can boost your credibility.
Whether you wear them to work as an employee or as a business owner, you can show that you are serious about your work.
If you have been trying to find a dress shirt that you won’t hate wearing, finding a cotton option will allow you to have the comfort and style you're looking for.
With the breathability and comfort that comes with its lightweight material and softness, you can look professional without feeling like you are completely uncomfortable in your clothing.
Polyester Cotton Blend
If you're on a tight budget, plus ironing clothes is a time-consuming task for you and you live in a colder climate or work in a fully air-conditioned office, dress shirts made of polyester and cotton would be perfect.
Expensive and gets wrinkled easily, silk-made dress shirts might be your last option.
That said, these shirts are best for individuals who want to look classy and elegant without the need to put in too much effort.
Overall, finding the best fabric is not difficult as long as you know your specific needs and the kind of climate you need to deal with.
With all the information provided, you no longer have to worry about dealing with figuring which material you should look for when you're searching for a new shirt.