When it comes to fabrics for shirts, there’s a favourite amongst many men – chambray. Today, you’ll find a plethora of chambray (or denim) shirts on offer in a wide range of colours, with fashion designers even incorporating them into more formal attire. But what’s so special about chambray and where did it come from? Below, we take a look at the heritage of this classic piece of menswear fashion before giving you some tips on how to style it.
The Origins of Chambray Shirts
Unfortunately, exactly where chambray shirts came from is a little vague. Some suggest that Jean-Baptiste Cambray is the man behind them but others dismiss this as there’s no verification he ever did so.
Nevertheless, the ‘chambray’ is likely to come from the term ‘Cambric’, which is itself derived from Cambrai, a French town where some of these earlier pieces were crafted as workwear.
What Is Chambray?
It’s closely related to denim due to the characteristic that defines them – the white horizontal thread that is weaved through the material to give it its distinguished look.
However, it’s the way these fabrics age that gives them their real edge as, over time, the white thread becomes increasingly visible as the other fabric starts to fade. This gives these items their gorgeous fades that are celebrated by all chambray and denim lovers.
Today, chambray has been adapted in the way it’s worn and the way it looks. Originally, you would have found these shirts in an indigo colour, but now, you’ll find it in almost every colour imaginable. Some even come with coloured threads (instead of the white) for a real standout look. That said, the two different threads used have to be different colours in order for the shirt to be a real chambray.
How to Style a Chambray Shirt
From the iconic blue chambray shirt to a more vibrant green or red one, companies like Orvis have something to suit you and the occasion you want the shirt for. But how best can you style these chambray shirts?
First, you could try a casual get-up by teaming this shirt with a pair of chinos and trainers before throwing a jacket over the top to complete the look. However, if you want to try and adapt the chambray into your formal workwear, you now can. While the original styles were rather like heavy denim, a number of designers have worked to make their chambray shirts more lightweight. This means they’ve been able to create dress shirts that work brilliantly with a more casual style of suit.
And the best bit? These shirts will transform from formal attire to casual dress in an instant. So, whether you want to fix up and look sharp or you fancy going for the rugged look, the chambray shirt is here to help.