I spent a few days in Los Angeles recently, which was well-timed given the recent heat wave on the East Coast and much of the eastern US. My intent was to visit my shirtmaker Freddy Vandecasteele and order a few more cool, lightweight summer casual shirts. In particular, my purpose was to look at his stock of voile shirtings (not to be confused with toile or tulle!).
In Freddy's view, voile is the coolest, lightest cotton shirting around. It used to be a very popular fabric and Freddy made quite a few voile shirts in years past. At first, I thought the shirting seemed a bit delicate for men's shirts. But as a test run I ordered a couple of voile short sleeve shirts last year. Freddy probably has about 15-20 different voiles from solids to stripes in stock in his workshop.
Having put the voiles to good use this steamy summer in NYC, I would have to agree with Freddy about their coolness factor. In terms of durability, I haven't had any issues. The only disadvantage to voile is that, depending on the color and pattern, the cloth can be somewhat translucent.
Looking ahead, I'm thinking voile will be my choice for a summer evening formal shirt for black tie.