What makes a quality shirt

11 August 2017
What makes a quality shirt
To the untrained eye, spotting a quality shirt from an inferior one can be tricky, however once you know the difference it can be hard to see them both in the same light. Not only will a quality shirt last longer, but the way in which it flows and fits your body is also likely to be far better, meaning quality shouldn’t be overlooked.
Here are 3 key things you should look for.


The first of many factors to take into account is the fabric of the shirt. As with any garment the fabric is all important as it can not only impact how comfortable the shirt is to wear, but also affect the way it sits on your body along with the how long it lasts. Now there are a number of things to keep an eye out for when weighing up the material of a shirt, these stretch from its ply, to its super number, to its weave. If you aren’t well versed in textile terms then these words might not mean much to you, thankfully there are plenty of resources online that go into great depth about each one. We’ve briefly looked at a couple below.

Ply refers to the manner in which the yarn for the fabric is spun. You’ll most commonly see single ply and two-ply yarns used for fabrics, and while three-ply fabrics are available, they are rather rare. The number indicates how much yarn is spun to make each thread. So single-ply is created using 1 yarn while two-ply has 2 yarns spun together to create the thread. Fabrics made from two-ply yarn are thought to be of a higher quality as they are generally longer lasting.

The thread count (or super number) of the fabric tells you the number of vertical and horizontal threads in one square inch of the fabric. The higher this number, the finer the material often is, which creates a softer feel. Materials that are lower are usually longer lasting so this should be something to consider when choosing the fabric. If you’re buying a shirt which you’re likely to wear infrequently (maybe just for special occasions) then you can grant yourself the freedom to opt for a material of a higher thread count, however if you plan to wear on a regular basis then you might want to stick to a lower thread count.

You should also always take a moment to see how a fabric feel in your hand. At the end of the day you’ll have it resting on your body so you’ll want to ensure you like its feel.


The buttons on a shirt should be judged carefully when attempting to determine their quality. High end shirts will often feature mother of pearl buttons. These not only offer a pleasing finish aesthetically, but are also far more resistant to discolouring over a prolonged period of time. Shirts featuring mother of pearl buttons are likely to be of a good quality as there’s a good chance the shirt maker has ensured the best materials have been used, you’re unlikely to find mother of pearl buttons attached to a shirt made out of synthetic fabric.
The alternative, and more cost-effective choice of button material, is plastic resin. Now you need to keep in mind that not all shirts with plastic resin buttons are going to be of a poor quality, but most poor-quality shirts will have plastic resin buttons. There are some very nice options for plastic resin buttons, however they a susceptible to degradation caused by cleaning and heat over time.

Along with the style of the button, you can also gauge how much time and attention has gone in to creating a shirt from the way the buttons have been attached to the shirt. The stitching should ideally create a criss-cross X shape as opposed to showing as parallel lines. This created a stronger attachment and will help the buttons to keep the shirt fastened neatly.

Stitching and pattern matching

While loose threads and misaligned stitching make for glaring errors that make poor quality shirts stand out from a mile, there are also more intricate nuances of detail which can help differentiate a high-quality shirt. For example, the shirt should feature clean, close stitching all over. This will help to give it a sharp and tidy appearance from every angle.

Another area which will show the level of attention to detail which has gone into creating the shirt Is the pattern matching. Pattern matching refers to how accurately different pieces of fabric (if they feature patterns such as stripes or checks) have been aligned where they meet. To quickly check this, take a look at the split yoke at the back of the shirt (just below the collar). The patterns should linen up and flow almost seamlessly from one piece of fabric to the other.

While details such as these might be easy to overlook, ensuring your shirt falls in line with the things mentioned above will ensure your shirt is as pleasing to onlookers to look at as it is for you to wear.

Final words

Using what we’ve mentioned above, you should now find yourself in a comfortable position to differentiate between a high-quality shirt and one of inferior quality. You can start putting each of the pointers into practice and help to ensure you’re getting good value for your money.

If you want to ensure your shirt is of exemplary quality every single time, find yourself a reputable tailor that you know you can rely on. At Hemingway we provide ready-made shirts along with made-to-order and bespokely tailored shirts. We maintain a high degree of workmanship for each product so if you’re interested in a fine shirt or other tailoring services, allow us to help.

Abbas Mahmood
Abbas Mahmood
As a lifelong purveyor of fashion, Abbas has been writing for Hemingway Tailors for 2 years, keeping readers up to date with style trends and delivering a regular insight into the world of tailoring.
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