Ladies and gentleman take note, if there is one item you must incorporate into your wardrobe, it’s the chambray (or denim) shirt. I’m not going to say for this season because it’s for all seasons. It’s iconic Ralph Lauren, but pretty much every clothing store does an interpretation. It’s available at all price points. I picked mine up last year at an end of season sale at Joe Fresh for $9.99, so truly everyone can afford this shirt. It’s effortless, it’s polished, it’s cute, it’s ageless, it’s timeless and it looks good with so many pieces and colours likely already in your wardrobe. Wear it casual or dress it up, the options are endless. And men take note too. You need one in your wardrobe as well.
Chambray is a bit like a neutral. It grounds many colours and prints. It works with absolutely everything. It’s the shirt equivalent to your jeans. Don’t shy away from the chambray shirt because you don’t know how to wear it, or have images of the dreaded Canadian tuxedo. I’m here to tell you to give it a try because it is the easiest and most versatile piece you will ever own. The cost will be pennies per wear. It’s a mileage piece because you will wear it on the weekend, to work and out for a night on the town – maybe all in the same day, if that day happens to be a Friday. You can pair it with so many things in your wardrobe that you’ll wonder why you didn’t pick one up ages ago.
Tip: select your shirt in the softest chambray fabric. The softer the better because it will fall nicer and will feel more comfortable.
Guidelines to Wearing the Chambray Shirt
Wear it with your khakis or your new sophisticated jogger that you picked up last week. Put it under a blazer, a crew neck sweater, sweatshirt or a Santa Fe style cape. Tuck it in to a pencil skirt or wear it loose and belted. Tuck it or tie it at the waist when wearing with a flowey or pleated skirt. Wear it like a cardigan with leggings (just make sure it covers your tush) and boots. It looks good paired with all fabrics, including cotton, leather, tweed, ponte, cords, khakis, coloured denim, and yes, even denim on denim.
Belt it, tuck it, tie it, roll it, leave it loose, tuck in the front and leave out the back, or tuck one half of the front side in and leave the other side out – anything goes.
Girlie Girls – add a pop of colour with your pants, pumps, purse or scarf. Consider pairing with a print such as plaid, camo, florals or my personal favourite the animal print. Throw on extra jewelry to give it pizzaz. Button it up to the neck and throw a statement necklace over the collar, or open it up and add a multi-strand necklace that hangs a little longer. Stack bracelets or a cuff, add a strong watch and/or rings. I also love it with a faux fur vest over top. And you know that we girlie girls can’t stop here because under doing it is not our style. Add a strong handbag and maybe a felt fedora hat, if you are feeling it.
Weekend Girls – wear it tucked in to your boyfriend jeans or loose over slim distressed denim or leggings. Throw on a unity scarf and a pair of Vans or moto boots. Roll or push up the sleeves and add smaller pieces of understated jewelry because you are the weekend girl after all.
How to double up on denim – I can’t end without some guidelines on how to wear denim on denim. Don’t think Jay Leno double denim because that is the perfect example of why we think vile when we see it. Rather, break the denim with a different wash in your jeans from the wash in your shirt, or incorporate different denim weights such as a heavier jean jacket over a lighter chambray shirt. I personally like to break the look with a blazer, colourful shoe or by belting it – and don’t forget to bejewel yourself with this look.
Men, you must also pick up a chambray shirt. It looks great under a cardigan or vest, with a corduroy, tweed or micro-suede blazer or with your chinos. And for the guys that have embraced the coloured denim, nothing looks better with it than a chambray shirt. Go ahead and throw on a tie with it. It works just as well as with as it does without. Pick up a chambray shirt in an inkier indigo or smokey shade to look more office appropriate. It looks richer than the lighter denim blue that is better reserved for the weekend. Also consider a dressier version of the shirt in an Italian chambray. It’s almost between a denim and a dress shirt.