Men’s Dress Shirt Essentials

basics, from fabric weave to collars to cuffs

by Janet Hu
You’ve heard “No shoes, no
shirt, no service.” But there’s so much more to it than just wearing a shirt.
Details, from fabric weave to
button materials to whether there’s a seam running down your yoke, say a lot
about your style and where you’re going. A solid presentation will guarantee
that others serve you looks–good ones, admiring ones.
So here’s the consummate guide
to men’s dress shirts:
Shirt Essentials: Fabric and Weave

dress shirt essentials broadcloth
Broadcloth is a tightly woven
fabric with very little sheen or texture. The fabric is thin, smooth, and can
be slightly transparent at times. Broadcloth is a more delicate, formal
material, and it is prone to wrinkling.

dress shirt essentials twill
Twills are recognizable by
their diagonal weave. This fabric is softer and more drapable than broadcloth
or pinpoint, and it has more shine. Twills can range from very fine texture to
larger twills.
Twills with very tight weaves
and high thread counts are sometimes mistaken for silk. While twill is not as
“crisp” as broadcloth, it’s easier to iron and more resistant to wrinkles.

dress shirt essentials oxford
Oxford cloth is made of a
slightly heavier thread and a looser basket weave. It’s often rougher in
texture than broadcloth or twill, but it’s more durable than most fabrics.
Oxford cloth is more casual, as it was originally developed as sportswear. Many
polos are made of Oxford cloth, but this material is not always considered
appropriate for formal wear.
Pinpoint uses the same basket
weave pattern as the Oxford cloth, but with a finer yarn and a tighter weave.
This makes the fabric more formal than the Oxford but less formal than
broadcloth or twill. Pinpoints are slightly heavier than broadcloths and
naturally less transparent.

dress shirt essentials chambray
Chambray is a plain weave
fabric, like broadcloth. It’s made with heavier yarn for a more relaxed,
workwear appeal. A characteristic of chambray is that it has white threads
running width-wise through its weave. These white threads are often woven with
another color so that the shirt appears solid from afar but more textured when
observed up close.
Like chambray, denim is made
with a colored yarn and a white yarn. But denim has a twill weave instead of a
plain weave. You’ll typically notice a lighter color on the underside of denim,
while chambray is identical on both sides. Denim fabric is heavier, more
rugged, and more casual. While a higher thread count denim with a tighter weave
makes it more formal, the denim shirt is definitely not a formalwear item.
dress shirt essentials microfiber

Microfiber is a fine synthetic
fiber whose diameter is less than ten micrometers. That’s thinner than silk
thread, which is already one-fifth the diameter of a human hair. Microfiber has
elastic and moisture wicking properties, so it’s the shirt of choice if you
need to move around a lot.

dress shirt essentials jacquard
Jacquard cloth has a raised
pattern that’s woven into the fabric. These patterns can take any form, but
popular jacquard prints include damask, floral, and geometrics. A jacquard
weave is created through a loom process, wherein the loom raises each warp
thread independently of the other threads. Jacquard shirts are often more
stretchable than traditional broadcloth, twill, or pinpoint shirts.

dress shirt essentials herringbone
Herringbone is a type of weave
with a distinctive V-shaped pattern. It’s usually found in twill fabric.
Herringbone weave has a break at reversal resembling a broken zigzag. This
pattern gets its name because its weave looks like the skeleton of a herring
/ Flannel

dress shirt essentials brushed cotton
Brushed fabric is a soft-woven
cloth, typically made of cotton, that is then swept to be made fuzzy. This
casual shirt fabric is drapable and good for insulation, and it’s often
constructed with a thicker weave.

dress shirt essentials seersucker
Seersucker is a lightweight
cotton fabric that is striped and puckered. It is woven in a way that some
threads bunch together to form a wrinkled, bumpy appearance in places. This
allows the fabric to tent away from the skin when worn, which allows for heat
to escape and for air to circulate. Seersucker is the perfect summer fabric.
Shirt Essentials: Anatomy
dress shirt essentials collar
Collars are the part of a
shirt that frames or fastens around the neck. Unlike lapels, which are folded
from the same fabric as the main body, collars are separate pieces of fabric
that are sewn onto a shirt.
Collars are one of the most
noticeable elements of shirt style, along with the cloth material. They define
the formality of a shirt and whether you need to wear a tie, or what type of
tie to wear. There are six main types of shirt collars: straight, button down,
spread, cutaway, club, and tab.
Cuffs are at the ends of the
shirt sleeves. They are created by splitting the sleeve along one edge and then
fastening it to fit more snugly around the wrist.
Button cuffs, also called
barrel cuffs, have buttonholes. They are meant to be buttoned, of course.

dress shirt essentials button cuffs
Link cuffs have buttonholes on
both sides. These cuffs are meant to be closed with cufflinks or silk knots.
They are commonly fastened in “kissing” style, where the insides of both ends
are pressed together.

dress shirt essentials link cuffs
our cufflinks
French cuffs, or double cuffs,
are twice the length of a regular cuff, and they are folded back so that the
cuff becomes two layers. These cuffs are then secured with a cufflink.
dress shirt essentials french cuff
Convertible cuffs may be
closed with buttons or with cufflinks.

dress shirt essentials button
Most buttons today are made of
plastic, which is inexpensive and fairly strong. But a low-quality resin base
can crack, leaving your buttons broken within a year.
Mother of Pearl is the more
luxurious alternative to plastic. These buttons are not actual pearl, but they
are made from extremely hard shells that are so solid they can break needles.
Mother of Pearl buttons are only on higher-end shirts now, since they are
expensive to produce, and they tend to disintegrate when exposed to harsh
dress shirt essentials yoke

The yoke is the panel of
fabric on your upper back that is shaped to fit around the neck and shoulders.
A one-piece yoke is made from a single piece of fabric, while a split yoke is
split down the middle and sewn together.

dress shirt essentials split yoke
Some will argue that split
yokes fit better since each side can be tailored separately to fit a person’s
asymmetrical shoulders. It’s also argued that a split yoke shirt is more
expensive because it takes more time and fabric to produce. Most shirts,
however, have unsplit yokes.
The placket of a shirt is the
front strip where the buttons run down. Because a shirt’s opening experiences
the most contact, with buttoning and unbuttoning, plackets reinforce this area.
There are a few different placket styles:
An American placket is a
visible strip made from sewing down folded fabric, or sometimes attaching a
separate piece of fabric. The stitches are visible.

dress shirt essentials american plackett
A French front is made by
folding fabric inward to be sewn. Buttons run down the shirt, but no stitches
are visible. French fronts are considered more formal.

dress shirt essentials french front
A covered front is the most
formal option. Only the top button at the collar remains visible, while all
other buttons are hidden beneath an extra layer of fabric.
dress shirt essentials covered front
And there you have it. We’ve
covered all your bases for dress shirts, from makeup to style. Pumped to dress
yourself now? Feel free to check out our new line of men’s dress shirts.
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.