Any fabric shop that is worth your business should have a shirting section. You can just walk in, ask where you can find the shirting, and pick out something you like.
Most of what you’ll find there will be cotton, or a blend of cotton. But you’re free to go for another fiber too.
When shopping online, it can be harder to get a good idea of what you’re looking at. In the absence of touch, it’s good to know a thing or two about the different weaves of fabrics. The weave is how the fabric was woven, and this determines not only how the fabric looks, but also how it will feel and drape.
Without wanting to start an encyclopedia of fabrics here, here are some terms you may come across when shopping for shirt fabric online.
Broadcloth is the way to go for that white shirt for your job interview or wedding.
Broadcloth (frequently referred to as poplin) is a simple weave and results in a flat plain fabric that will give you that crisp formal look.
It’s typically a lighter fabric and in light colours can tend to be a bit transparent.
You can recognize twill fabrics by their characteristic diagonal texture from the weave.
It drapes more easily than broadcloth, wrinkles less and when it does, is easier to iron.
The flip side of the coin is that it won’t give you that starchy crisp vibe that broadcloth can.
Pinpoint is the work horse of shirt fabrics. Typically they produce a heavier and thicker . and thus more durable . fabric.
Pinpoint is a less formal look than broadcloth or twill, but more formal than oxford. This, combined with its durability, make it a great choice for your everyday work shirt.
Chambray is simple weave, similar to broadcloth. It is different because it uses a much heavier yarn, and typically different colours for the weft and width.
The result is a much more textured fabric, both in touch as appearance where the different colours create a densely speckled two-coloured fabric.
Denim needs no introduction. It’s the stuff your jeans are made from.
Technically a twill fabric (look for the signature diagonal texture) denim is produced in much lighter weights than the ones your jeans are made from. Those are the ones you can use for a shirt.
From Curt Cobain to the hipsters at your local coffee shop, they all swear by flannel shirts.
Warmer than any other option here, flannel comes typically in brushed cotton though you might find it with added wool for extra warmth.
Linen wrinkles like a mofo, but you can’t beat it for safari looks.
The reason you associate it with adventures in tropical climates is that linen breaths like nothing else and will keep you coolest of all.
A higher thread count means a smoother (and more expensive) fabric.
Thread count is expressed in numbers, like 60s, 80s, 100s and so on to 300s and more.
There’s a catch though. Numbers above 100s are typically made by twisting two yarns together. Like a 160s thread count means that two 80s yarns were twisted together for the thread.
If a thread is made up of two yarns (see thread count above) we call that Two ply.
If the yarn is made up of a single thread, it’s call Single ply.
You can expect two ply to last longer, and be more expensive.