Choosing the Right Cottons
By Mark Ferguson
Before making your next shirt purchase, touch the fabric carefully. The "hand," or feel, of the fabric should be the most important factor determining your choice. Each of the weaves has their own qualities and everyone has his own preferences. The smooth, silky feel of the broadcloths and the softer heavier qualities of the oxfords.
If you are worried about wrinkles some fabrics are too tightly woven to hold the starch.They are meant to be soft and silky which means they will also wrinkle the most. Whereas the heavier yarns like oxfords will become stiffer when starched. The single-ply oxford, with its heavier weight, will be the stiffest of all. Broadcloths will also starch well, as they are not as tightly woven as other cloths, and they will still remain lighter in feel and silkier in hand.
The oxfords are also less translucent than broadcloths. This feature guides many men in deciding on oxfords, especially in a white shirt, because it hides chest hair and undershirts. Broadcloths are much dressier than oxfords. They are acceptable in most business and social environments.
Broadcloths stripes and patterns are much crisper in colour than the oxfords. In oxfords, the cross-weave of colour in the cloth always diminishes the colour of even the deepest stripe. If you are still in doubt, buy one of each and test them. After wearing and laundering, you'll find the cottons that are just right for you. For a well-rounded wardrobe, you'll need a combination of fabrics so that you will be able to change the look of your suit and, therefore, expand your wardrobe quite inexpensively. For fabric recommendations please ask.