Jun 18, 2014

'Know Your Fabrics' - Poplin

And we’re back with more knowledge for y’all. This time,...

And we’re back with more knowledge for y’all. This time, the ‘Know Your Fabrics’ series takes a look at Poplin, one of the most common shirting fabrics available.

Like twill, poplin refers to the weave of the fabric - while it was originally woven with specific threads (silk weft and worst yarn warp), those standards have largely been abandoned and the fabric can now be found in a wide variety of materials, from silk to cotton to wool and more (cotton tends to be the most common, and likely our favorite). The weaving pattern, however has remained the same.


Where twill was an ‘offset’ weave that resulted in diagonal ribbing, poplin is a square or even weave, which results in a much smoother, flatter finish. The characteristic pattern of poplin involves a thicker thread running one way (usually the warp), with a thinner thread running the other direction (usually the weft). Compared to broadcloth, a similar square-weave fabric that we will look at more closely in an upcoming post, poplin is normally less densely woven, which makes it softer, but also less crisp and therefore a bit more casual.

As poplin can (and often tends to be) a lighter fabric - plus that looser weave is much more breathable than many other options -  it’s a favorite of many for spring and summer shirting (although thicker poplin shirts can definitely be found and worn year round). A few of Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets’ go-to shirting companies offer a great selection through the warmer months, including Everlane, or Uniqlo for more bargain options.

Slim Fit Poplin Shirt | Everlane

Fine Poplin Long Sleeve Shirt | Uniqlo

Whereas we hunt down twill for any number of garments, our use of poplin is a little more limited to shirting. However, you can find some nice, water-resistant poplin jackets that make a perfect lightweight cover-up come cool spring nights or surprise showers.

Poplin Single Breasted Mac | Topman

Last, we have been seeing some poplin ties popping up - it’s not a huge phenomenon, as the fabric’s inherent thinness often doesn’t allow for much structure in a tie, and therefore often a weak knot, but we’ve seen it done very well by a few tie-makers. The results are definitely more casual, but the lightness of the fabric really hits the spring/summer vibe quite well.

Atkinson Irish Poplin Tie | Sid Mashburn

Slub Poplin Irregular Stripe Tie | The Hill-Side via Hickorees

Do you have any poplin pieces in your rotation? Any favorites? Chime in below.

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tagged details, fabrics, know your fabrics, mac, menswear, poplin...