Buying a Tailor Made Shirt - Part 1 Fabric Selection

Buying a Tailor Made Shirt - Part 1 Fabric Selection

As you saw from this page, the tailors we work with have way more fabric for you to choose from as compared with the competition - more than 800 choices!

With hundreds of fabric choices available, it can seem overwhelming when it comes time to make fabric selections for your tailor made shirts. However, with a little preparation and with some on-the-ground guidance from your tailoring expert at Tailor Made Shanghai, you can rest assured that you will make the right choices.

First things first - what kind of shirts are you looking for and where are you going to wear them? Are you looking for shirts to wear to work, out on the town, or just casual every day shirts? Do you want something with lightweight fabric or something a bit heavier? 

To answers the questions above, it's best to have a basic knowledge of the 3 main attributes of shirts: fiber type, weave type, and yarn characteristics.

Primary fiber types: 

  • Cotton

    • best overall quality, breathes easily but wrinkles easily

    • Very soft and comfortable, looks natural

  • Blended

    • provide good warmth and usually is wrinkle free

    • not as comfortable nor breathable as cotton (avoid on hot summer days!)

  • Linen

    • wrinkles easily

    • breathes easy (great for summer!)

Primary weave types: 

  • Poplin/broadcloth: 

    • durable, long-lasting, thin and breathable

    • smooth look, looks nice and professional

    • crisp look when ironed

  • Twill (varieties include herringbone):

    • distinctive diagonal weave

    • softer, thicker, doesn't wrinkle easily

    • harder to clean if stained

  • Oxford (varieties include pin point):

    • unique, checkerboard appearance

    • slightly rougher texture but more durable than most

    • thicker and warmer, popular as a casual shirt

  • End-on-end

    • similar to poplin but with 2 different colored threads

    • has a heathered appearance

    • breathable, durable, soft

  • Pinpoint (pinpoint oxford):

    • similar to oxford but with finer yarn and tighter weave

    • heavier and durable, warm but breathes well

    • opaque (not transparent)

Yarn characteristics: 

  • Thread count: 

    • most dress shirt fabric ranges from 40-160

    • higher thread count usually means smoother, silkier, more expensive fabric

    • lower thread count can mean a heavier fabric, good for cooler weather

  • Ply:

    • used to describe the number of yarns that are spun together in the shirt fabric

    • Single ply can be good for casual shirts (lighter, more breathable fabric)

    • 2-ply is typically better, has a smoother, more crisp hand feel

While many of the terms above can seem a bit technical, it's a good idea to have some general knowledge of shirt fabrics before you make your selections. 

Interested to see what kind of clothes you can have made during your Shanghai trip? Go here to see examples of what past trip participants bought. 

Stay tuned for the next blog post in this series, which will be titled "Buying a Tailor Made Shirt - Part 2: Collar Selection".

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