A fabric’s tendency to wrinkle – or not wrinkle – depends on several factors. Typically, weight, weave complexity, composition, and treatment (if any) dictate the level of a fabric’s wrinkle resistance. As a general rule, the more weight, the more treatment, and the more complex the weave construction, the more resistant to wrinkling it will be, and vice versa. Several of these factors are often at play in a single fabric, and certain combinations can help increase a fabric’s wrinkle resistance.
Below you’ll find a breakdown of how weave complexity, material composition, and treatment affect the wrinkle resistance of fabrics.
Complex Weaves are More Wrinkle-Resistant
A fabric’s weave type can dictate its natural wrinkle resistance. More visibly pronounced weaves like royal oxfords, imperial twills, and jacquards will tend to wrinkle less, whereas broadcloth (or poplin) and plain weave fabrics with a very smooth, flat appearance will tend to wrinkle more.
Weave density plays a further role. The diagonal line weave of twills is particularly dense, so they will often resist wrinkles better than oxfords and pinpoints of similar weights. Oxfords and pinpoints, with their “dot” weave construction, are less dense and have slightly “looser” and more “open” structures, and are therefore less wrinkle resistant. Broadcloth is more difficult to weave with a very high density, so most broadcloths will tend to weigh less than twills, oxfords, and pinpoints. Broadcloth is therefore among the most wrinkle-prone dress shirt fabrics.
Wools & Synthetics are more Wrinkle Resistant than Cottons & Linens
The material from which a shirt is made will also affect its wrinkle resistance. Shirts with wool woven into them resist wrinkles very well, while 100% linen or cotton/linen blends are naturally more wrinkle-prone. Fabrics made from synthetic materials with inherent resilience, like nylon and spandex, are very wrinkle resistant as well.
Non-Iron and Wrinkle-Resistant Treated Fabrics are most Resistant to Wrinkles
Finally, a fabric may be chemically treated to help it resist wrinkles. Treatments range in strength, from “wrinkle-resistant” — meaning the fabric will need to be ironed or steamed after washing, but will hold up well against wrinkling throughout a day of wear — to “non-iron”. Non-iron fabrics have a stronger treatment that prevents them from needing to be ironed or steamed post-wash. If they’re hung to dry, they’ll be ready for wear immediately, and daily activity will hardly cause them to wrinkle at all. Fabrics that do not have these extra treatments generally cannot be expected to perform as well, though there are some exceptions, such as merino wool fabrics, which need no treatment in order to stay completely wrinkle-free.