Know your shirt fabrics

By on March 26th, 2017


A gingham pattern is a checkered pattern with white and colored checks that are the same size. This pattern is made up of horizontal and vertical stripes on a white background.

Your go-to necktie: Solid


Similar to gingham, this is a very popular pattern. The pattern consists of regularly spaced thin vertical warp stripes and repeated in the weft direction, forming squares. Usually, the background color will be white, or something very light, but it can really be anything.

Your go-to necktie: Solid or a bold stripe.

Tartan Plaid

This is the plaid that is most often associated with Scotland. It is a very traditional plaid made up of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical stripes in multiple colors. During manufacture, each thread in the warp crosses each thread in the weft at a 90 degree angle. When a thread in the warp direction crosses a thread of the same color in the weft direction, the result is a solid color. On the other hand, a thread crosses another thread of a different color, it produces an equal mixture of the two colours. What this means is that the two base colors result in three colors!

This makes for a relatively casual dress shirt.

Your go-to necktie: None. Or, if you must, try a square-bottomed knit tie for a nice casual look.

Shepherd’s check

The shepherd’s check pattern was originally a plaid worn by Scottish shepherds. Right off the bat, you’re probably wondering “isn’t this a gingham?!” While it may look close, the difference lies in the weave. A shepherd’s check is woven with a twill weave, whereas the gingham is not.

Your go-to necktie: Solid, but steer clear of a similar twill weave.


Madras is a really fun plaid that is most often see in cotton. Its namesake comes from the former name of an Indian city, Chennai. And similar to champagne, only real madras comes from Madras. Also, both sides of the cloth must have the same pattern and it must be handwoven. Because it comes from a unique short-staple cotton fiber, one that can’t be combed, only carded, the resulting fabric has noticeable bumps called slubs.

Your go-to necktie: None.

Windowpane check

Depending on the colors, this can make for either a very bold dress shirt, or one that’s a bit like a subtle plaid. Regardless, the pattern is a lot like — you guessed — a windowpane. This is a very common dress shirt and certainly one that deserves a place in your closet.

Your go-to necktie: A solid is the safe pick, but consider a stripe or paisley for a refined look.


The houndstooth pattern is one of those traditionally masculine designs. The classic look is in black and white, but it can really be in any color. It is made up by broken checks that are reminiscent of a dog’s tooth. Again, we can thank our friends in Scotland for originally creating this pattern.

Your go-to necktie: Solid

Glen plaid

Also known as Prince of Wales plaid, this is a classic menswear pattern. We see it most often in suiting, but it’s also very common in dress shirts. Simply put, it’s a twill weave made up of small and large checks.

It first made its appearance during the nineteenth century in the Glenurquhart valley of, yes, Scotland. Prince of Wales Sir Edward VIII maintained a particular affinity for the pattern, so sometimes you’ll see it labeled as Prince of Wales.

Your go-to necktie: Typically, this is a pretty versatile fabric, so you have some options. But be careful with plaid neckties.

Awning Stripe

There’s no doubt about it, the awning stripe is one bold stripe! It’s the widest there is, usually coming in at over 1/4″ wide. When paired with the right suit, this can make for a very bold look. Although not a great option for a very formal event, it can look great in the office — so long as you own the building!

Your go-to necktie: Solid or soft paisley


A bengal stripe dress shirt is one with repeating stripes that are 1/4″ wide. The stripes can be any color, but usually sit on a white background. While not as bold as a awning stripe dress shirt, the bengal shirt is still a very commanding dress shirt pattern.

Your go-to necktie: Solid


The Marcella dress shirt is one of three dress shirts commonly worn in men’s black tie attire. It’s a naturally stiff cotton cloth, that becomes even stiffer with starch. The weaving style is very unique, characterized by raised parallel cords or geometric patterns in the fabric (and the shirt has some interesting history, too).


You probably have some flannel shirts in your closet, don’t you? While the flannel that your grandfather wore was made from either carded wool or worsted yarn, modern versions can be manufactured from wool, cotton, or even synthetic fiber. The fabric is then napped or brushed to give it that level of softness that we all like.

Read the full story on flannel here.

Know your shirt fabrics: Wrap up

We hope that this article helps to shed some light on the wide world of shirting patterns! If you would like to keep on learning (and why not?!), here’s an article on the broadcloth dress shirt. And when you order a new dress shirt, here’s how you keep it looking its best.