In case you’re wondering, I’ll be staying with a shirt theme for a few more posts.
If you are looking to build up your shirt collection you might consider adding some twills to your collection. Twill is a type of weave resulting in a fabric characterized by its diagonal weave. Click on the pictures below for a close up.
Twill weave is used in a wide range of fabrics from tweeds and wool blends in traditional suits through to silk for ties. For shirts, however, it is a cotton weave that is used. This means that the fabric is a little thicker and softer than poplin or end on end cotton fabric and keeps one warmer during the cooler autumnal weather.
I confess that my interest in twills, has little to do with the fact that they are useful when it’s a little cooler. I just like them because they are cool. Period. It’s something about the diagonal weave that seems to me to add some texture to a shirt. That it is a slightly heavier weight fabric than your typical cotton shirt, gives the impression of quality, in my eyes. That heavier weight means that the fabrics drapes on your body in a slightly different, and to my eyes more flattering, way.
In addition, it is certainly softer to the touch which means its very comfortable to wear, and a further plus is that it is a little easier to iron than a poplin or end on end cotton weave. Indeed many outfitters supply non-iron shirts which are made from a treated twill fabric. Bottom line is that twill simply looks like a quality fabric. and if you are going to wear a white shirt, whether formally or casually, it’s difficult to beat a twill shirt.
My first few formal shirts after I Found The Perfect Fit were all twills. And I think I would have been happy to have a closet full of twill shirts. However a number of elements made this impractical. Twills for some reason tend most often to come in plain colours. I have seen stripes and checks in twill fabric but they are the exception rather than the norm.
So if you want shirts with patterns rather than solid colours you will probably need to go for something other than twill. Similarly if you fancy Winchester Shirts (more on this in a later post) for some reason this is not often available in a twill. Again I have seen this style but it is rare and on the occasions I have seen it the collar has been a regular poplin cotton collar but the rest of the shirt is twill.
However, if you are someone who really likes a stiffly starched shirt then twills won’t be very much to your liking. Twills are a much softer fabric than poplin or end on end cotton weave shirts. So they are much less stiff when starched because the fabric simply does not hold the starch as well. One of the reasons I suspect that twill fabrics are not ideal for Winchester shirts which often have stiff collars and cuffs.
One other downside of twill fabrics is that sometimes they have a slight shiny finish to them. If you aren’t a fan of this look don’t worry about it too much. Once the shirt has been laundered a couple of times that slightly shiny finish will fade. If you do like it then you might consider hand laundering to slow down the fading.
All in all if you are are in the market for some formal shirts and you want them to look luxurious you might want to look into some twill shirts. They are great for autumn but also for the rest of the year. Add them to your Christmas stocking wish-list.
T M Lewin & Hawes & Curtis are currently having a sale at 4 for £90. It’s difficult (though not impossible) to find good quality formal shirts for much less than this. Charles Tyrwhitt have a deal of the day with shirts at £19.95 and T M Lewin have clearance shirts from £20.