What Is Pique Fabric?

Cotton, linen, polyester, rayon – the list of shirting materials goes on and on. Yet, when wading through these materials, you will bump across pique as well. This one is more on the formal side, yet not overly formal, but you can style it easily with sportswear, too. How do you pronounce it, what is pique fabric, and where does it stand in the blank apparel industry?

If you are a fan of polo shirts, this timeless wardrobe staple can be a good clue to the answers you are looking for. Most people don’t know, but they are already familiar with pique! Here’s an in-depth overview of this amazing fabric.

How Do You Pronounce It?

Pique fabric certainly piques curiosity. Although spelled the same, these two words are pronounced differently. When referring to fabric, you should pronounce it as pee-kay.

The Origins of Pique

The Lancashire cotton industry created pique fabric back in the 18th century. At that time, you could find it under the name of Marcella. Manufacturers used a special technique and enclosed cording weft to weave through the double cloth.

Originally, the industry wanted to imitate quilts made in Provence and Marseille. Yet, pique became so immensely popular the fashion industry started designing other pique garments for the men’s section.

What Is Pique Fabric and What Are Its Characteristics?

Pique is a knit-like fabric featuring a pattern texture similar to a honeycomb, also cord, waffle, and birds eye structure are equally common. Yet, this type of texture is rather subtle and you can see it only up close. The manufacturing process that creates texture is slightly different than the regular one as it adds depth to the basic fabric. 

One of the reasons pique fabric is so popular is the fact any of the above-listed textures features great breathability and medium weight. That’s why you can see thousands of people wearing knit pique polo shirts in the summertime. A perfect blend of cotton, polyester, fiber contents, and blended fabrics - pique is easy-peasy to care for. 

Types of Pique Fabric

Not all pique knits are the same. Yes, they all are durable and breathable, but different fibers and tightness of the construction can vary. These are the traits of traditional pique you can also name the baby or micro pique.

The tighter the knit construction – the smaller the fabric holes, which makes some pique garments a bit heavier than regular ones as well as less vented. Such fabric is more resistant to wrinkling.

Still, we have to mention the differences between tight and traditional pique fabric are very subtle.

What Is Pique Used For?

Pique is a quite versatile fabric. It can go from formal to sport in seconds. Pique is mostly used for making polo shirts people use at white tie events and on golf courses. If you want to be more casual, opt for a short-sleeved shirt, while long sleeve pique shirts make a better choice for formal events. You can also find high-quality waistcoats, summer jackets, and dresses made of pique.

Pique is not only breathable but the textured weave prevents perspirations stains from being too obvious. Another fantastic quality of this fabric is that it is comfy so you can enjoy active days on golf courses to the fullest. Wearing a pique polo shirt will make you feel good in your skin but also add a note of sleekness.

Pique Vs Jersey

Pique and jersey are the two most used materials for making polo shirts. Other fabrics include silk and linen. None of these is as popular as pique and jersey, but there are differences between these two as well.

Jersey polo shirts are more suitable for everyday and physical activities. Thus, they are softer and more laid back. Pique shirts tend to be more breathable and durable. Some people find pique shirts more expensive-looking due to sturdy collar stand. Others, who prefer comfort opt for jersey shirts.

How can you tell the difference between the two?

Jersey polo shirts are:

  • Soft and smooth,
  • Tend to wrinkle less,
  • Mostly similar to T-shirts,
  • Come at a cheaper price.

Pique polo shirts are:

  • Heavier (but not too heavy),
  • Texturized and patterned – honeycomb or waffle,
  • More breathable,
  • More expensive.


If your goal is to appear more formal but avoid being all buttoned up, opt for a pique. Now that you know what is pique fabric, you will be able to recognize sophisticated and comfortable garments easily. One thing is for sure – whichever pique-made garment you choose, it will elevate your look in one-two-three.