The Guide: Chambray
What Is Chambray?
The easiest way to describe chambray is to say that it’s lighter a cousin of denim. Like denim, it’s made of cotton and is often dyed with dark, indigo colors. Unlike denim, chambray is a plain weave fabric made with single strands.
Denim is a twill fabric, meaning that it’s constructed from diagonal strands. The twill weave requires twice as many strands as a plain weave, which is why denim is typically a rougher, heavier fabric.
So while chambray may look similar to denim, it has a softer feel, a smoother weave, and a lighter weight. All of those factors contribute to chambray’s ability to be worn as shirting.
How Can You Wear It?
Chambray isn’t as casual as denim, but it’s still the most casual choice this side of Hawaiian shirts. It becomes even more casual if it has a pattern or is dyed in a particularly deep color like black.
However, a light blue chambray shirt can be a less formal, more interesting alternative to the classic blue oxford. If you’re feeling creative and work in a less rigid work environment you can wear it with a full suit, but it’s a great choice with sportcoats, particularly patterns like herringbone that create a rich textural contrast.