what to wear with chambray shirt

A New and Stylish Idea on What To Wear With a Chambray Shirt

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The chambray shirt comes from humble beginnings, but this versatile piece has won the hearts of many fashionistas. If you want a piece that can be dressed up or down, from endless stylish to chic ways, then a chambray shirt deserves a spot in your wardrobe. While you can never go wrong by wearing it in a simple way, check out this new and stylish idea on what to wear with a chambray shirt!

trench coat | jeans | cardigan (similar) | shoes (similar)

But first, it doesn’t hurt to know a little bit about where your wardrobe comes from!

Where did the chambray shirt originate from?

This shirt gets its rugged vibe from originally being used as military clothing and workwear. Men frequently wore these while working on big rigs, because of this item’s durability and breathability. Ever wondered where the term “blue-collar” comes from? Because men that held jobs in the manual labor field wore these blue chambray and denim shirts.

Is there a difference between a denim shirt and a chambray shirt?

Though admittedly, I use these terms interchangeably, there is a difference. A chambray shirt is a cotton plain weave made with white yarn. It looks like denim but it is thinner and softer.

A denim shirt is made out of, you guessed it, denim! Denim is technically sturdy cotton woven in a certain way. A true denim shirt is usually thicker, sturdier, and slightly more expensive. A jean jacket is made out of denim and is an even thicker version of these shirts.

Chambray is great for the warmer months because it’s light and breathable, while you may find yourself reaching for its thicker counterpart in fall and winter.

What makes it so versatile?

I love it because it can be perfectly dressed up or down. Reminiscent of a button-down shirt, but with a casual fabric, it can work for a variety of occasions.

The blue chambray shirt is neutral but adds some color to your outfit as well. A chambray shirt can stand in for your everyday blue shirt but add a nice twist.

Now, on to this new and stylish idea on what to wear with a chambray shirt!

Most people just wear a chambray shirt with a pair of black jeans and though nothing wrong with that (I wear that outfit myself), consider this new outfit idea to shake things up!

chambray shirt + fitted cardigan + trench coat + blue straight leg jeans + loafers + handbag

I always say that layers are the name of the style game. Obviously, you don’t want to go too overboard, but adding a few extra layers is a surefire way to create a knockout look.

So, start with your chambray shirt then wear a fitted cardigan over it in a contrasting color. And then top it off with your favorite trench coat. Pair it with a classic pair of jeans, such as slim or straight leg in a color that matches your chambray shirt. For a classic look, finish off your look with pointed-toe loafers and a classic handbag.

Layering my chambray shirt is one of my favorite ways to wear this piece!

What else can you wear with a chambray shirt?

In this outfit idea on what to wear with a chambray shirt, the shirt is worn buttoned and layered. But there are so many other ways you can wear this piece!

You can wear it open over a shirt or tied around your waist. You can tie and knot it over a dress. It can be an extra layer or the top itself. It’s perfect for casual outfits, but can surprisingly be dressed up for more formal occasions as well. Going to work? Just pair it with a pencil skirt or tailored dress pants!

There are different things you could pair with this outfit depending on the look you’re going for. After a Parisian chic look? Choose a trench coat. For an edgy-chic look, choose a motorcycle jacket. For a cozier look, choose a chunkier knit cardigan to go over the fitted one. You can never go wrong with your favorite pair of jeans either!

You can pair a lighter chambray top with dark denim or you can match the washes. If you’re unsure if they match or not, just break it up by adding some different layers as I did!

Since this clothing item is basic, it can be worn with almost any type of shoes, from brown boots to loafers. A great thing is that since this top is so simple, it can work for a variety of simple or fresh looks- all just dependant on how you style it!

There are so many other different ways you can style this piece. How much time do you have? For even more ideas, you can lean into the casual look of this top by pairing it with white sneakers. You could go edgy by throwing on a leather jacket. Or you could lean into the Canadian tuxedo (double denim) look and wear your chambray shirt with denim jeans and a denim jacket!

In the spring, a great way to wear this top is with white jeans. In the summer, you could wear it with a maxi skirt and sandals for a casual boho look.

Shopping for a chambray shirt:

When shopping for a chambray shirt to add to your closet, keep in mind your body type and how the chambray shirt fits.

Slim fit or boxy fit, it’s up to you. Try to envision where and how you’ll be wearing this piece. If you plan to do a lot of layering, opt for a more oversized fit to make room. If you plan on wearing this piece to work, then opt for a more structured, slim fit.

Some chambray shirts can look pretty western. I’d avoid anything that looks too “cowboy” to keep a classic and chic look.

A short sleeve chambray shirt can be a nice option for spring and summer, but it shouldn’t replace the classic long-sleeve.

Since this is a staple piece, you’d want to invest in it. Expect to spend around $50-$100 for a quality top. From J.Crew to Levi’s, here are some nice picks:

On a budget? No worries. Check out these great alternatives on a budget that are under $50:

Now that you have a new and stylish idea on how to wear a chambray shirt, keep reading for even more basic ideas!

Up Next: Need Help? Here’s How to Wear a Chambray Shirt!

What To Wear With a Chambray Shirt
What To Wear With a Chambray Shirt


Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making mychicobsession.com a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.