One of the most sold dress shirts is poplin. But what exactly is poplin? Buying a dress shirt can be a matter of decision. There’s the colour and the style. You want to get the right fit. But at the heart of it all is the very material that the shirt is constructed from. One of the most popular is poplin. But what exactly is poplin?

Poplin shirt weave

Poplin isn’t so much a type of material as a type of weave. It is also known as tabbinet. Cotton comes in strands or fibres. These fibres are then woven together and the style of the weave has its own name. The same name will apply to the weave if it uses other fibres, blend materials or even polyester.

The history of Poplin

Poplin weave is where the weft and warp fibres go over and then under one another. It originally used a silk warp with a worsted yarn weft to make a stout cord material. The material has a lustrous and silky look due to the surface of silk fibres.
The first mention of the word poplin was back in the 15th century. It came from a French word ‘papelaine’ which was a fabric made from silk.

The term itself came from another word, ‘papelino’ that meant a fabric made in Avignon. At this time, the city was famous for being home to one of the two popes. Back then, the silk and wool poplin was standard. But in later years, the same pattern started to be used with cotton. In the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, there is reference to poplin. It seemed in her times it was considered an everyday material that ‘wouldn’t do at all’ for an evening event!

what is poplin history

image: Flickr

Modern cotton Poplin

Modern cotton poplin shirts come in a number of varieties. One such example is a broadcloth poplin, which makes use of a finer yarn. This yarn is usually in the 100-200 threads per inch range and it woven tightly. This creates a sheen to the shirt and a high class finish.

This silky feel comes with almost all poplin weaves to a degree. It is one of the reasons that dress shirts made in this material are popular. Their smooth feel also makes them comfortable to wear. When ironed correctly, poplin shirts look very crisp and neat. And the shirts are very durable due to the strength of the weave.

what is poplin weave

The features of Poplin dress shirts

Poplin shirts are cooler than an Oxford or a twill shirt so ideal for spring and summer. But because they are light, they can also layer well with a jacket or jumper. Their sheen makes them smart enough for the most formal occasions. But their durability also means they are okay to wear on a daily basis.

The only real downside of a poplin shirt comes from that silky sheen and lightness. It means that a little more care is needed in ironing. If you are unsure how to correctly iron a shirt, then there is plenty of help available online. And once the shirt has had a good ironing, it will be as good as new. Who needs a professional laundry service?