How to wear a chambray shirt

Nikki Parkinson Fashion, How to 43 Comments

It’s been said that you shouldn’t adopt a fashion trend if you’re old enough to have worn it the first time it was a thing.

I’ve long poo-pooed this outdated notion.

And it’s a good job I have too.

Why should all the sweet young things have all the fun? Fashion is fun and it should be fun for all ages.

What you wear should make you feel nothing short of fabulous. And if that fabulous takes the form of a garment not dissimilar to that which you wore Back In The Day, then I say go for it.

In this post, the garment I’m saying go for is the humble wardrobe warrior that is the chambray shirt.

Chambray by fabric definition is “a plain weave fabric woven with a coloured yarn in the warp and a white yarn in the weft”. In layman’s terms this means a (usually) blue cotton fabric with a white thread through it.

It’s a lighter weight than denim.

The fabric originated in the French town of Cambrai in the 16th Century.

In WWII, the US Navy adopted the chambray shirt as part of its uniform, with a white t-shirt underneath and navy pants.

In 1990 I bought my first chambray shirt from Country Road. I loved and cherished that shirt … as much as I now do the THREE chambray shirts hanging in my wardrobe.

So when an Adelaide reader contacted me this week for a little advice on how to wear her newly purchased shirt, I thought others might like some tips and inspiration too.

I just bought a tencil demin shirt and love it but I don’t do denim and denim. I know it’s on trend but I’m just not that trendy! Can you suggest how and what to wear with it? – Taryn

Style tips

1. Don’t be afraid of demin + denim.  It’s ok to opt not to embrace double denim but before you do veto it from your wardrobe life, give it a try. The key is to work two pieces together of different shades, a pale chambray shirt with indigo jeans. The contrast is important.

2. Black jeans/skirts/pants are your chambray bestie.  Chambray and black is super smart and can take you from casual to dressy in to time at all. This combination is one of my faves. Try black leather or faux leather for evening interest.

3. Mix up your look with tan or taupe accessories and shoes. These neutrals work so well with a chambray blue because they’re almost opposites on the colour wheel. Leopard print and chambray is a match made in wardrobe heaven for the very same reason.

4. Look for a shirt that is lightweight and drapes beautifully over the bust and hip. A chambray shirt is all about the relaxed so avoid choosing a chambray that is heavy and stiff and opt for a design that drapes.

5. You don’t have to wear your shirt buttoned up. Wear it as a jacket fully open with a tee underneath. Tie it around your waist. Half tuck into your jeans or shirt. Tie it to create a crop-style shirt over a maxi skirt or dress.

6. Embrace this classic – for that’s what it’s become. A chambray shirt acts like a neutral in your wardrobe, allowing you to get creative with the bottom half of your outfit while still feeling effortlessly chic.

Style inspiration

The real-women of #everydaystyle (follow along on this Instagram hashtag for daily style inspiration) know how to rock a chambray shirt. Check out this selection for ideas on how to wear yours. For outfit details, click on the link below each photo and follow each of these fabulous ladies while you’re there.

Sussan chambray shirt | Firefly vest | Frankie4 Footwear boots | Harlow Australia jeans | Louenhide bag

Sussan chambray shirt | Firefly vest | Frankie4 Footwear boots | Harlow Australia jeans | Louenhide bag

@theillusivefemme | #everydaystyle

@theillusivefemme

@styleloving2 #everydaystyle

@styleloving2

@shewrites77 | #everydaystyle

@shewrites77

@redcliffestyle | #everydaystyle

@redcliffestyle

@nat.tucker_make.it.look.easy | #everydaystyle

@nat.tucker_make.it.look.easy

@lessthanapineapple | #everydaystyle

@lessthanapineapple

@icadoo | #everydaystyle

@icadoo

@flatbummum | #everydaystyle

@flatbummum

@creatingcontentment | #everydaystyle

@creatingcontentment

Sussan chambray shirt, skirt and clutch | Nine West Heels

Sussan chambray shirt, skirt and clutch | Nine West Heels

Shop the look now

The chambray shirt is a great trans-seasonal fashion buy and there are lots of options out there for your trans-seasonal shopping pleasure. The look below is one to play with as it warms up. The contrast between the pastel tones of the trench and shirt with the strong anchors of the tan leather and stripes add interest. Wear the trench open to perfect a lightly layered look.

How to wear a chambray shirt | spring 2015

1. Sussan trench $199.95 | 2. Sportscraft shirt $129.99 | 3. Witchery scarf $69.95 | 4. Sussan bag $79.95 | 5. Bird Keepers skirt $59.95 | 6. Mollini heel $199.95

So tell me, would I find a chambray shirt in your wardrobe? How do you wear yours?

Comments 43

  1. You are a bad influence. Brought my first chambray shirt the other day at Just Jeans on sale. Going to stick with the blue shirt/black jeans/tan boots combo.

  2. Firstly a big CONGRATULATIONS for winning the Telstra Awards. So proud of you Nikki! Secondly, thank you for always being the realist and helping us with our style! x

  3. oh i so miss my chambray shirt. i used to have a levis one in the 90’s. I may need to go purchase one as i wore my old one to death 🙂

  4. I have a Just Jeans chambray shirt I picked up in the new year sales but haven’t been able to wear it due the fact I had zero idea what to style it with. Thank you Nikki for these tips; I’m going to jazz it up with a black skirt.

  5. I love chambray shirts! Just had to ditch one that was literally worn out/through, but thankfully found a replacement in no time flat (cheapo one from Big W, but as I’m going through a weightloss phase I don’t want to buy a lot of clothes right now).
    Have owned the new version 2 weeks and so far have worn it: buttoned with a black ponte pencil skirt, black tights and Mary Janes; open over a black maxi dress, with boots; half-buttoned over the same black maxi dress with black leather Converse; half-buttoned over a white singlet, with black skinnies and white leather Converse. Love it!

  6. Love you in chambray!
    I have two – a button up Jag one that I wear as a ‘jacket’ / outer layer, and the other is from Katies and I wear as a shirt with a scarf for pizazz. I usually team them with stripes or black. Yet to do double denim – dying to….not sure what’s holding me back 🙂
    Cx

  7. The last look with heels and a skirt us my favourite! I don’t own one… Maybe I need to go shopping 🙂

  8. My first chambray shirt was back in the 80’s; an Esprit one. I’ve owned several since then but none in recent years. I’ve noticed them appearing in the shops again – yippee! I love the shirt with a black denim skinny skirt. Must keep my eyes open! All the women shown look AMAZING in their denim 🙂

  9. Love you in chambray! I tend to wear my chambray shirt with black denim – a mix of denim on denim with a contrast. I also love chambray worked back with a striped top or skirt. x

  10. Along with most women my age I also rocked a CR chambray shirt with a pencil skirt to work back in the day and I wear one now, too.
    I think they’re brilliant for travel if you can find one that doesn’t crinkle too much. I wear mine over a t-shirt with jeans or ponte pants, like a few of the ladies above; tied around the waist with a t-dress or under a knit with the collar and hem poking out.

  11. Along with most women my age I also rocked a CR chambray shirt with a pencil skirt to work back in the day and I wear one now, too.
    I think they’re brilliant for travel if you can find one that doesn’t crinkle too much. I wear mine over a t-shirt with jeans or ponte pants, like a few of the ladies above; tied around the waist with a t-dress or under a knit with the collar and hem poking out.

  12. Oh, I love a chambray shirt!! I am especially loving it with the black skirt and leopard heels Nikki. I feel a copy-cat coming on. Thanks so much for the feature. Loving being in the same post as these amazing style mavens!!! Bron x

  13. I love chambray shirts I have one but don’t wear it often enough,though I will after seeing this post Nikki!
    I adore how you’ve dressed the chambray shirt up in your pic with your skirt it looks really dressy,thank you and I love leopard or tan with chambray too Xx

  14. Not into chambray at all! Or so I thought .. I actually love the shirt with the black pencil skirt and leopard accessories. Maybe I need one after all. Yes, I do

  15. I love the chambray shirt. Have a light one and a darker one and wear them with black jeans, striped skirt or thrown on over a black tube maxi. so versatile. Never thought of dressing it up with heels – love the look in the last pic Nikki. Still on the hunt for a good black tube skirt! x

  16. I bought a chambray shirt at the start of winter but I haven’t worn it much because I really wasn’t sure what to put it with. Thanks for the inspiration I’m going to wear it today 🙂

  17. Love chambray! I had two shirts back in the 90’s too. Now I have one shirt, and a dress. So comfortable and soft on the skin. I did double denim back in the ahem 70’s….. 🙂

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