I want to start an ad campaign, like the one Converse has plastered all over my city, with the catchphrase “Poplins Are Boring.” Poplin, for those unfamiliar, is a type of plain weave, where each lengthwise yarn passes over each crosswise yarn – over and under, over and under, and so on. The stuff is very smooth, very flat, and very, very boring. You can get an up-close view of it at Mr. Porter.
I think I wear poplin maybe once every few years, when I have to go to a wedding or something. Other than that, I prefer end-on-ends or twills, where you get a bit more variegation in color or texture. Not enough for anyone else to really notice, but enough for me to care. I’ve also been wearing the following a lot this summer:
First, there are these London Lounge linens, which have a nice crosshatching of white and blue yarns (sort of like end-on-end), but aren’t so slubby that they look distracting. As with all London Lounge cloths, the prices are painful, but the products don’t disappoint. Even the white linens have a subtle variation that looks better than the plain whites you see in lower end shirts.
Another favorite, and one I wear year round, are these infamous Simonnot Godard chambrays. I say “infamous” because they were a darling of the bespoke crowd on StyleForum until Tweed in the City proved that they had a bit of polyester mixed into them. Poly blend or not, I count these as one of my favorite shirtings. They have just enough color variation to make them look interesting, but not so much that you can’t wear them in a professional setting. Voxsartoria’s photo above shows them off the best.
Then there’s this oxford, which I bought from a company in New York. They asked me to keep their name anonymous, as they don’t sell to people outside the trade, but I believe they might be the same firm that supplies Mercer & Sons. Slubby and thick, with a lot more surface interest than the stuff I used to buy at Acorn, this is the best oxford cloth I’ve ever come across.
Finally here’s a beautiful cotton/ linen blend from Carlo Riva, which is typically hard to find, but available at A Suitable Wardrobe. Riva is a small Italian mill with half-width looms that weave slower than modern machines today. Since their production is small and limited, whatever they produce usually gets taken up by Italy’s best shirtmakers (e.g. Kiton, Mimmo Siviglia, and Anna Matuozzo). As usual, Voxsartoria has better photos. His shirts are made from Bonfanti’s fabrics, although I imagine they’re near identical to Riva’s since the two are sister companies. You can see more Riva shirtings at Mimmo Siviglia’s website and this post at The Kerbau. Everything from them looks great …
Except the poplins.