One of the most significant differences in textiles is the surface texture. Certain fabrics are instantly identifiable because of the textured surface textile mills create when weaving yarns into materials. Women’s dress shirts primarily use fine, delicate fabrics for construction. Though most retailers offer dress shirts made of flat surface material, fabrics such as piqué offer textured finishes as an alternative. Knowing the fabric type and texture differences of dress shirts will help you combine the look with business suits for corporate environments or dress pants for casual office attire.

Plain Fabrics

Most manufacturers use lightweight fabrics for women’s dress shirts geared for business attire. Textile mills weave high-count cloths to produce fine, plain fabrics such as batiste, cotton broadcloth, organdy and oxford. The number of yarns used to weave per inch — filling (crosswise) and warp (lengthwise) — dictates the cloth count and textile type. Batiste, cotton broadcloth, organdy and oxford represent high-count, plain fabrics used for dress shirts. Although these fabrics generally have a flat texture, the textiles are identifiable by their surface finish. Cotton broadcloth has a lustrous surface that resembles poplin. Oxford cloth –often produced as white fabric — has a soft, silk-like finish, also woven into stripes and small geometric shapes.

100-Percent Natural Fibers vs. Blends

Although most fine fabrics use 100-percent natural fiber contents such as cotton to produce plain textiles, mills also produce blends. One of the main reasons is cost. Natural fibers cost more to produce because of the processing steps taken at the textile mill, which includes removing dirt and debris from natural cotton as well as separating the fibers. Blends are generally lower-cost cloths because the second, as well as subsequent yarns used in the weaving process, are primarily man-made fibers. Although 100-percent cotton cloth feels soft against the skin, blends that include Lycra offer stretch, comfort and ease during natural movement.

Piqué Construction

Whether medium- or heavy-weight finishes, this fabric type has an identifiable pebble-like weave surface comprised of raised cords that run in the warp direction on the face of the fabric. Turn the piqué fabric to the wrong side for an identifiable loose-weave float pattern. Made on a variety of loom attachments that create figure (novelty) weaves like dobby and Jacquard, piqué fabric is also considered one of the three novelty weaves. Since the surface texture is primarily woven on a small scale, the dress shirt appears elegant and refined.

Piqué Surface Patterns

In the French language, the word “piqué” translates to quilted. This fabric type has a distinct raised padded-like texture. Whether made of 100-percent cotton or cotton blends, piqué surfaces have quilt-like shapes woven into the surface of the fabric. Textile mills label each piqué by the look of the weave. For instance, birds-eye piqué refers to a mini diamond-shaped texture and bull’s eye piqué refers to an ovals-shaped pattern. Pattern surfaces also include warp piqué, which refers to lengthwise or vertical cords, while weft piqué refers to crosswise or horizontal cords.