Men’s Dress Shirt Fabric Guide

This will be a general men’s dress shirt fabric guide. The biggest takeaway you should get from this article is that 100% cotton is the best fabric for men’s dress shirts. It is the most comfortable, practical, and attractive dress shirt fabric. When selecting a dress shirt, opt for 100% cotton versus synthetic or cotton/synthetic blends. The dress shirt’s fabric should be one of the first qualities to consider when purchasing a dress shirt.

There is a lot that goes into the manufacturing of a dress shirt: thread count, ply, weave, mill, type of fabric, and more. For now, I’m sticking to the basics and will address the nuances in another post. Let’s take an objective look and compare 100% cotton vs synthetic and blends.

100% Cotton Dress Shirts vs Synthetic/Blends

100% Cotton Pros

• Breathable
• Soft and comfortable
• Attractive appearance
• Durable

100% Cotton Cons

• Wrinkles easily
• Can be expensive

Synthetic/Blend Pros

• Wrinkle-proof/resistant
• Less expensive

Synthetic/Blend Cons

• Not breathable, thus uncomfortable
• Inferior appearance
• Susceptible to damage from heat (laundering and ironing)
• Can irritate skin due to the chemicals used to treat the shirt

Be wary of 100% cotton shirts that are “wrinkle-free” or “wrinkle-resistant” for they are chemically treated and can cause skin irritation.


Like most products out there in the world, there are a variety of choices. In the world of business or formal wear, use this dress shirt fabric guide to help you make a decision.

I am very biased towards 100% cotton. The reason I am attempting to push you towards 100% cotton is because a good dress shirt is an investment therefore you should be going for the biggest value. That means the dress shirt you buy should make you look good and feel comfortable. At the same time, your purchase shouldn’t put a dent in your bank account. The prices can range from $40-$150 depending on the brand but I’ve never paid more than $60.

As for caring for your shirt, ironing only takes 3-5 minutes but if you refuse to do this then get your shirt professionally laundered. They’ll clean and press your shirt which will make it look immaculate. It should only cost a few bucks. Don’t starch your shirts. Starch will reduce the longevity of your shirt.

Here are some retailers that can provide a great looking dress shirt at a reasonable price:

• Hugh & Crye – These guys have a great story. Their shirts are fantastic and they have great company values. Not only will you get a premium shirt from Hugh & Crye, but you can feel good about their sourcing standards, social impact, and sustainable practices.
• Banana Republic – My favorite thing about this retailer is there are always sales.
• Nordstrom Rack – I tend to find the killer deals at their physical locations.

This blog post’s video counterpart can be found here.

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