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My Custom Tailor How To Determine Appropriate Thread Count

When it comes to choosing custom clothing and particularly custom dress shirts it is important to have a clear understanding of what the elements of a custom dress shirt are. The elements that make up your custom dress shirt include fabric, embellishments and fit. Of those three elements, probably the most important one of when it comes to selecting a custom dress shirt relates to fabric. Fabric choices are made based on the thread count of the fabric for your custom dress shirt.

What is thread count?

You might think that the term thread count is simply a marketing ploy that linen companies and custom clothing tailors use to make Egyptian cotton and Italian cottons sound more luxurious and fancy. But it is really a scientific term, with quite strict federal standards on how those threads are counted­. Technically speaking, thread count means the number of threads woven together in a square inch. To count them you need to count lengthwise and widthwise threads. So 100 lengthwise threads woven with 100 widthwise threads produce a thread count of 200.­Thread count has simply become a buzz word for marketing luxury sheets, shirts and other woven fabric goods. The idea is the finer threads you can weave together, the softer and finer the fabric.  If you are trying to find the perfect set of formal dress shirts, we think you will be amazed at how much of a difference thread count can make. As a universal rule, the higher the thread count, the more luxurious the fabric in custom dress shirts and clothing as a whole. That said, lower thread counts also have a place in the home, and offer practical, easy care options. Understanding the basics when it comes to thread count will help you make a smart choice that suits your life, your home and of course, your budget. Now that we have established exactly what thread count is, it is time to explore what that number means for your fabric choices. The thread count of a custom dress shirt will need to vary based upon the event that the shirt is being worn to. There are certain fabrics that are appropriate for formal wear, and others are designed to be worn in a more casual setting. But well before we get in to the best fabrics for different shirts there are a few things you might want to know such as the difference between 2-ply and single ply, plus the different kinds of fabrics you will find in dress shirts.

Two Ply versus Single Ply

Ply is really not a fancy term even when used in custom clothing, it is simply how many yarns are twisted together to make a single thread. Shirting fabrics are usually two-ply or single ply. Two-ply means that two yarns are twisted together to make a single thread that is then woven into the fabric. Two-ply fabrics are usually better compared to single-ply fabrics when it comes to their durability. Three-ply fabrics are quite rare in dress shirts, but they are not unheard of.


Broadcloth is quite that popular fabric for custom dress shirts and one that is favored in custom clothing and is often referred to as poplin. It is a tightly woven fabric with a very modest over-under weave and very little to no sheen, which makes it fine and professional, a great cloth for dress shirts you can wear to work. Broadcloth is really great for guys looking for as little grain as possible in their fabrics, for something with a smooth finish. They are usually a lighter fabric that can sometimes be a little transparent. Broadcloths commonly wears the smoothest out of all weaves thanks to its lack of texture making it a great fabric for formal dress shirts, but can also be the most inclined to wrinkles.


Linen fabrics are unbelievably breathable and typically made to be worn in hot climates, used in making some of the most comfortable summer custom clothing. Linen is made from a type of fiber found in the flax plant, and can be quite labor demanding to harvest. Naturally linen will be more loosely woven and sheer compared to most cotton shirts, and it has a very exceptional dry hand to it that is truly unlike cotton. Linen also tends to crease and crinkle more easily than cotton and it mostly feels much more relaxed because of this ability.

Royal Oxford

Royal Oxford is what we call a “pretty fabric” and you would too if you saw it in a custom dress shirt. Although it sounds quite similar, it is not at all anything like the pinpoint oxford fabric or oxford cloth. The Royal Oxford is a dressier and debonair fabric with a distinguishing shine and texture that surely helps it stand out from the rest. With a more noticeable weave than broadcloth or pinpoint, it’s ideal for those of you who are interested in a dress shirt or formal shirt with noticeable grain and texture.

Now that we have covered a few popular fabrics, we can dive into the types of fabrics for different kinds of dress shirts.

Thread Count for Formal Dress Shirts

The formal wear that you wear for special occasions should be some of the most luxurious items in your wardrobe. Make your thread count decisions based on those fabrics that will be the softest options possible. Silk is always an appropriate option for formal wear especially a nice formal dress shirt. The fabric is soft and the slight sheen adds a glamorous twist.

Thread Count for Business Style Dress Shirts

Fabrics for your business style dress shirts need to be softer than those fabrics that you use for your casual style, but not as soft and luxurious as those fabrics that are used for formal wear. Remember when you are selecting the fabrics that are going to be used to make your business dress shirts will be part of what people use to form their opinion of you on. It is important that your business wardrobe is used to help guide your career.

Thread Count for Casual Shirts

The thread count that is used in your casual shirts need to be chosen based on the level of activity that you engage in during your spare time. If you are extremely active, then you choose a fabric that will breathe well and allow you to move freely.

Custom dress shirts come in multiple styles and multiple fabric options. As you begin to make your selections and create your designs, remember the guidelines for which fabrics are most appropriate for each event. Design a variety of options that will serve you in every social situation. All of these options mean that the custom dress shirt has become the new black in terms of style.