Cotton vs Polyester Shirts - What's The Difference? by Tapered Menswear

Cotton vs Polyester Shirts - What's The Difference? Which is Better?

In the fashion world we are spoilt for choice with varieties of material. The choice between cotton vs polyester shirts goes far beyond preference. 

Although people have long preferred cotton for it's natural softness and breathability. Polyester fabric offers a modern touch with its strength and ease of care.

In this blog I will compare the characteristics of these two shirt materials and the best fitting cotton shirts on the market, right here at Tapered Menswear.

best cotton shirts by Tapered Menswear

Cotton Pros

Cotton shirts offer many benefits, coming from their inherent fabric properties. They're more comfortable and breathable in comparison to polyester.

If you've got sensitive skin this fabrics for you.

Warm weather apparel often favours cotton due to its ability to absorb moisture.  Premium quality ring-spun cotton takes these benefits eve further by offering a soft feel that sets a benchmark for shirts.

Here are some of the benefits of cotton:

  1. Exceptional Comfort

  2. Superior Breathability

  3. Hypoallergenic Nature

  4. Effective Moisture Absorption

  5. Vivid Colour Retention

    Cotton's qualities make it the best choice for many garments. I advocate for cotton which our dress shirts are made from. It excels in comfort and breathability.

    black cotton shirts by Tapered Menswear

    Cotton Cons

    When it comes to evaluating the drawbacks of cotton as a fabric, a few key factors stand out. Particularly it's moisture wicking abilities.

    First, cotton's known for it's comfort and feel. But, it does not quite match polyester for longevity and durability because of its natural fibres. They are soft and breathable, but wear out over time.

    This can lead to a shorter lifespan for cotton garments. This is especially true when they face the tough demands of daily use and frequent washing.

    shop fitted cotton shirts

    Another point of consideration is cotton's susceptibility to shrinking. It has a tendency to contract more when exposed to heat during washing and drying processes. low-maintenance shirt options.

    Let's also not forget the wrinkle aspect. Cotton is far less forgiving than polyester. It needs regular ironing to stay crisp and wrinkle-free. For professionals and individuals with busy lifestyles, this can be quite the deterrent. 

    Polyester Pros

    It is clear that polyester shirts hold a significant edge in various aspects. Especially for durability. Polyester fabric has many appealing properties. One is its great strength.

    It ensures longevity and resists tears and abrasions. This is a stark contrast to the often more delicate nature of cotton.

    Also, the debate on cotton vs polyester moisture wicking settles. It settles in favor of polyester. Polyester wicks away moisture which means it dries faster after washing.

    This can also cut energy use and saves money in the long term.

    Polyester Cons

    When comparing fabrics, it's key to consider the downsides of polyester. These are mainly comfort and breathability. My firsthand experience with shirt materials has underscored the limitations of polyester.

    This fabric clings to the skin when damp.

    Which can cause discomfort in warmth or during exertion. 

    Heres some of the cons of polyester:

    • Less breathability compared to cotton
    • Tendency to cling to wet skin, leading to discomfort
    • Potential irritation for sensitive skin
    • Requires careful heat management during printing processes

    Are Cotton Shirts Better Than Polyester?

    As mentioned, cotton shirts are generally preferred over polyester for several reasons. Cotton is a natural fibre. It's known for its breathability, comfort, and softness. This makes it ideal for warm climates and sensitive skin.

    shop fitted cotton shirts

    For environmental reasons cotton is better because its biodegradable. Because of this factor it also makes it a hypoallergenic so it doesn't retain odors. Which is ideal if you plan on wearing them everyday!

    best cotton shirts by Tapered Menswear in white and olive green

    Polyester is a synthetic fiber. It is less breathable but more durable than cotton. It resists wrinkles, shrinking, and fading.

    This makes it a good choice for activewear. However, it can retain odors. It is less eco-friendly because it has plastic and does not biodegrade.

    Is Cotton or Polyester Better

    Ultimately, the choice between cotton and polyester is down to you! Consider it's intended use.

    Polyester vs Cotton Price

    Is polyester cheaper than cotton? Polyester shirts are often cheaper than cotton shirts. This is due to several factors. Polyester, a synthetic material, is cheaper to produce on a large scale than cotton, a natural fiber.

    Polyester's manufacturing process is more consistent. It is less dependent on weather. Weather can affect cotton crops. Moreover, polyester's durability and ease of maintenance contribute to its cost-effectiveness over time.

    Cotton shirts, while generally more expensive, offer natural comfort and breathability. The higher price can also reflect the environmental and ethical costs of cotton farming. In short, polyester shirts cost less at first.

    But, cotton shirts cost more. This is because they are natural and have extra production costs.

    Is Polyester Softer Than Cotton?

    Polyester is generally less soft than cotton. Cotton is a natural fiber known for its softness and comfort, making it ideal for sensitive skin and everyday wear. Polyester, being a synthetic fiber, can feel less soft and more abrasive against the skin, though advancements in textile technology have improved its feel. However, for those prioritizing softness and comfort, cotton remains the preferred choice.

    shop fitted cotton shirts

    Cotton and Polyester Blends

    A blend, as you might guess, is a yarn or fabric made up of more than one type of fiber. Blends, particularly cotton and polyester blends, are immensely popular. There are three main types of blends commonly used in  cotton and polyester fabrics:

    1. 50/50 Blends (Cotton/Poly):

      • This material is half cotton and half polyester. The combination provides a balance of comfort, durability, and ease of care.
    2. CVC (Chief Value Cotton):

      • Typically composed of 60% cotton and 40% polyester, CVC blends prioritize cotton content, offering a softer feel while still maintaining the durability and moisture-wicking properties of polyester.
    3. Tri-Blend:

      • Made from a mix of cotton, polyester, and rayon, usually in a 50/25/25 ratio. Tri-blends are known for their superior softness, stretch, and drape, making them a favorite for high-quality apparel.

    Benefits of Cotton-Poly Blends

    Cotton-poly blends, including 50/50s and CVCs, combine the best attributes of cotton and polyester:

    • Softness and Comfort: The natural feel of cotton provides softness and comfort, which is enhanced by the durability and shape-retention of polyester.
    • Temperature Regulation: Polyester fibers help in regulating temperature and wick moisture away from the skin, making these blends ideal for activewear and hot climates.
    • Shrink and Wrinkle Resistance: Polyester reduces the tendency of the fabric to shrink and wrinkle, ensuring the garments maintain their shape and appearance even after multiple washes.
    • Durability and Stain Resistance: Polyester fibers add strength and resilience to the fabric, making it more durable and resistant to stains compared to pure cotton fabrics.

      Is Polyester or Cotton Better in Summer?

      As it gets hotter, the question becomes: does polyester or cotton make us more comfortable in summer? In my experience, the choice between cotton and polyester breathability is clear.

      Cotton's properties make for better air flow. Cotton feels softer and lighter against the skin. This is crucial when it gets hot.

      Polyester, on the other hand, takes the lead on moisture management. The fabric can draw sweat away from the skin.

      light blue cotton shirts by Tapered Menswear


      Many who do summer sports or outdoor activities rely on this comfort. Although polyester might not win on breathability, its comfort in managing sweat is undeniable.

      Polyester vs Cotton Shirts - Conclusion

      Ultimately, while the choice between cotton and polyester will vary depending on your own needs.

      All of our fully fitted cotton shirts are expertly cut close to the body. Arms are closely fitted in the biceps at an optimal length to flatter the bicep peak. While the cut of our shirts also sit snug on the shoulders and chest.

      shop fitted cotton shirts

      Our v-tapered shape cut equally helps to reduce the amount of material around the midsection to give you your guaranteed dream shape.

      Meaning, no more annoying material where you really don’t want it. We believe that we have solved an age-old problem that many men with bigger builds have faced.

      Whether a casual T-shirt or a formal dress shirt, our sophisticated  range gives you the bespoke treatment, without the middleman or the hefty price-tag. Made for you, you will find that our shirts give you everything you need to succeed at style.

      best fitting clothing for men by tapered menswear

      White Tapered Fit Shirt

      Not only that, they’re also completely comfortable. Made from 100% cotton, that moulds effortlessly to your shape, you can work and play in our shirts and expect comfort all day long.

      We have also recently added the classic Henley shirt to our range for even more choice. Why not give Tapered Menswear a chance. No more ill-fitting shirts. No more money spent on a tailor.

      Available in both long sleeve and short sleeve muscle fit shirts.

      Check out Tapered Menswear today and see for yourself.

      Our revolutionary cut provides a 10" drop from chest to waist.

      Fully fitted in chest and shoulders whilst tapering sharply down, giving a tailored look. No more bagginess in the waist.

      Enhanced Darts

      Expertly tailored darts at the back, for the perfect fit.

      shop now


      Stretch Cotton

      Super soft, breathable and allows complete freedom of movement.