Soft button-downs?
March 9, 2010 11:40 PM   Subscribe

Where do I find soft (not starchy) basic woven button-down dress shirts--and what keywords should I be using to look for them?

I'd like to find some women's woven long-sleeved button-down shirts (or XXS men's dress shirts) that are very soft to the touch, even to the point of feeling worn-in. Button-downs that are less "dressy" are okay as well (no button-down collar required).

Because of where I live I have to buy most of my clothing online, and I'm having trouble identifying what describes a soft dress shirt from web store descriptions.

Keywords I know are bad:
Poplin, linen, starched, chambray, oxford cloth, wrinkle-resistant, flannel, corduroy (all seem to mean things that are too thick, starchy, creased, heavy, or otherwise wrong)
I am also NOT looking for the linen camp/epaulet/military-type shirt that has been popular lately--just a normal woven dress shirt, unusually soft.

I looked at this question, but I'm more interested in the "soft" part and less in the look that poster was going for.

Any ideas about
a) specific terms to use to find this kind of soft button-down? (e.g. types of cloth)
b) specific stores or items that might fit what I'm looking for?
posted by ollyolly to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have purchased extremely soft button-down shirts at Target.
posted by transporter accident amy at 11:56 PM on March 9, 2010

perhaps 100% cotton
posted by debbie_ann at 3:42 AM on March 10, 2010

I think brushed cotton may be your best bet, or peach/peached finish or peachskin (the latter set of terms are more often used for polyester fabric finishes).
posted by drlith at 4:09 AM on March 10, 2010

My favorite dress shirts often have the word "pinpoint" (describing the cotton) on the labels. They're usually 100% cotton.
posted by Alt F4 at 4:28 AM on March 10, 2010

Sorry. Just to be clear: "my favorite dress shirts" = soft.
posted by Alt F4 at 4:28 AM on March 10, 2010

I bought a couple of button down shirts from H&M that are very soft. But they are also very casual.... like you would wear them on the beach. Also sorta see-through, so an undershirt is required (unless you are at the beach!).
posted by Grither at 5:30 AM on March 10, 2010

Silk is very soft and dressy.
posted by desjardins at 6:27 AM on March 10, 2010

You want cotton voile, cotton lawn, and some cotton broadcloths and shirtings. Voile and lawn are plain-weave, somewhat sheer fabrics with a soft, drapey hand. Broadcloths and shirtings are also lightweight plain weaves, but they can be crisp-finished or soft-finished.

You never want: cotton organdy, twill, duck, flannel, percale, poplin, sateen, or anything marked as polished.

The feel of fabric is often talked about as the quality of its hand. "Soft, drapey hand." "Crisp-finished hand." In general, cotton shirtings that "drape" will be soft. "Combed" cotton will have a peachskin-like finish. "Matte" fabrics will not necessarily be soft, but polished/fabrics with sheen will almost always be treated to be stiffer.

Buying fabric and clothes online is hard! Basically, you can only look for as many soft-type factors as possible in the description.

PS - I know you said plain weaves, but I seriously think you should look at lightweight seersucker fabrics, too, for casual wear.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:42 AM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

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