A Guide To Fabrics


There are a wide variety of fabrics available on the market, each with its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. When choosing a fabric for a particular garment, it is important to consider the properties of the material and what works best for you and your lifestyle. This guide covers the basics of understanding fabrics commonly used in clothing. You'll gain a better knowledge of what makes certain fabrics ideal for different types of clothing, as well as how to care for them properly.




Cotton is the most used fabric in the world. It’s known for its breathable, soft, and versatile properties while being one of the most low-maintenance materials so you won't have to worry about dry cleaning! Cotton can be worn all year and yields many other fabrics like chambray, velour, flannels, and jersey. The only downside of cotton is that they’re prone to shrinking and don’t dry as fast compared to other materials, but that shouldn’t be an issue if with the right care. Wash at 86 degrees Fahrenheit using a mild detergent on a regular cycle, then let the garment air dry to hold its shape/size. It’s important to remember that, while cotton is the most convenient fabric, it’s the least environmentally friendly as the crop requires incredible amounts of water.




Polyester is a fairly new type of cloth that is man-made using a chemical reaction containing petroleum. It’s known as a very durable fabric that can withstand many wears and washes. A few key points about poly are that it’s very flexible, drys quickly, resists wrinkles, and is very comfortable! The downside is that they tend to stick to sweaty skin in the summer months; it’s not as breathable compared to cotton. As a result, it’s often blended with cotton to create garments that are comfortable and durable. To maintain your polyester clothing, use only cold or warm water since high heat can damage this material.




Pique is a weaving style that produces raised, parallel cords or ribbing on the fabric's surface. Its popularity is mainly due to its fine texture and durability. Pique is often used to make polo shirts as it has great breathability and can effectively hide perspiration. To give the garments an even more comfortable feel, pique is commonly produced from 100% cotton or blends of elastane for added stretchiness and comfort. It’s also fairly wrinkle resistant. Caring for this material is simple, use cold to warm water, tumble dry low, and aim to keep it in the dryer for half the normal time to avoid shrinkage.




Chambray fabric is often mistaken for its denim counterpart. While they might look similar, the main difference between the two lies in their construction: Denim is woven in a twill pattern (diagonal parallel lines) and chambray is woven in a plain weave (criss-cross pattern) using a colored yarn in the warp and white weft threads—akin to how denim uses indigo warp and white weft. It was first produced around the mid-1500s, originally intended for shirting and handkerchiefs that need to survive some wear and tear. Chambray is ideal for the warmer months since the fabric allows cool air to pass through. Since this textile is similar to cotton, it’s best to wash cold and dry on a low setting.




Flannel fabric is a soft, woven fabric that has been around since the 16th century. Traditionally made from worsted wool yarn, flannel today can be wool, cotton, or synthetic fiber. An identifiable characteristic of flannel is its distinctive brushed surface which provides a fuzzy look and feel that adds to the coziness of the garment. Flannel is known for its warmth during cold temperatures, but don’t let that stop you from wearing it whenever you’d like because it also has great moisture-wicking and breathability properties! The most common clothing made from this material are casual button-down shirts, jackets, and sleepwear.  To care for this material, avoid washing it in hot water, use only warm or cold, and let it air dry.




Also called Lycra or Elastane, Spandex is a polyurethane-based fabric that’s known for its excellent stretch quality. This is why it’s often used in fitness clothing and other garments that require maximum flexibility. It is usually blended with other fibers, such as cotton at a 2-5% blend to create clothing with extra dexterity which also makes the clothing much less prone to wrinkling. The name spandex is also an anagram for the word expand! To care for this material it is best to wash in cold water either by hand or in a machine, do not iron on a high-temperature setting, and dry in a low or gentle cycle. Try one of our WRK dress shirts and see the difference for yourself!




Linen is a natural fiber made from the flax plant. It is very similar to cotton making it breathable and moisture-wicking. Linen is also a very strong material (30% sturdier than cotton) and very absorbent but also fast drying which is why it’s one of the best fabrics for the hotter months! Since linen is not stretchy, it’s best for looser-fitting clothing for optimal comfort. Linen button-downs are the perfect layering piece over a lightweight tee. It does have a tendency to wrinkle so ironing or steaming at a high temperature is ideal (about 150-200 degrees). Wash your linen items on a gentle cycle, with warm water—anything hotter can lead to shrinking. 

To sum it up, All fabrics have their advantages and disadvantages, and it truly comes down to what you prefer. Choosing the right materials for the seasons, certain events, and your lifestyle are key factors in keeping your style up to date and most importantly...making you comfortable in what you wear! 







Miles Thorne
Stylist and designer based in Los Angeles, CA