The Charismatic Chambray Shirt

The Incomparable Chambray

Back in 2005, the Chambray shirt was unheard of. As a matter of fact, according to Google, the only Chambray that was frequently searched back then was a certain hotel in France named Chambray-lès-Tours. By 2009, the Chambray fever boomed when fashion bloggers started sporting them. The trend gained so much momentum that by 2013 it surpassed the Chambray-lès-Tours keyword.

Keyword Comparison for Chambray

“Chambray Shirt” is in blue while “Chambray les tours” is in red. By 2012 their keyword searches went head-to-head.

What is chambray and why the sudden resurrection?

Chambray Fabric

It is a lightweight fabric, usually made of cotton that is plain weaved. Being thin and fine, it is perfect for summer and spring where the temperature is higher. Chambray is actually the type of material used to make the shirt. Just like the khaki, it is the textile fabric not a piece of clothing. There seems to be a wrong connotation that a chambray shirt is the knock-off version of denim. It’s more than that.

Kanye West Wearing Chambray Shirt with Denim

Kanye West wearing Chambray on denim.

Chambray and denim are often confused with one another. Both are usually colored blue and one may not distinguish the other with just a single glance. By touching them, however, you will realize that Chambray is the lighter of these two materials. Denim is usually used on pants, shorts and jackets while the chambray is often used on shirts and other accessories like ties and hats. The material can even be used on shoes.

Red Chambray Tie

Red Chambray Tie

Chambray Caps by Stussy

Chambray caps by Stussy

Chambray Kicks by Bathing Ape

Chambray Kicks by Bathing Ape

The fabric goes all the way back to the 1500s where it was used by the Elizabethans to stiffen their neck ruffs. It was also used in petticoats, curtains and wall hangings. When the availability of the fabric became prevalent, it lost its charm to the royals but became a staple in the ordinary household. Thus, the chambray shirt was widely known as a work-man’s uniform, often associated with blue-collar job workers. However, in the 50s, one style icon by the name of James Dean sported the chambray as part of his rebellious and disillusioned image.

James Dean in Chambray

James Dean in a timeless Chambray classic

Chambray shirts are low-maintenance. You can put it on without having it pressed if you want to go for that rebelled look. It is also versatile in a way that when ironed (sometimes starched), it can be worn in more formal occasions.

Formal Chambray

What a dapper!

The chambray is not limited to the color blue. It also looks good in other colors such as…

Pink Chambray Shirt


Green Chambray Shirt


Purple Chambray Shirt

…and purple.

Heck, it even looks good with patterns.

Polka-Dotted Chambray Shirt

Pair it with Khaki’s. They’re just perfect for each other.

Chambray on Khakis

Chambray on Khakis by AdrianP

You can also pair it with white

Chambray on White

…or orange shorts.

Chambray on Orange Shorts

Via Tommy Rossi

And of course, the classic chambray on Denim is a timeless look!

Chambray on Denim

Chambray on Denim by Reinaldo Irizarry

Chambray is a good investment for your wardrobe. It is comfortable, versatile and most importantly, low-maintenance. Every guy looks good in ‘em! Give it a try.

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