By Ingrie Williams
While I currently wear one on a weekly basis, at minimum, truth is it’s taken me a while to come around to the chambray shirt. Like, years. You know how something that previously seemed not quite your style suddenly looks right and becomes all you want to wear? This has been my chambray shirt experience, because let’s admit it: denim on denim didn’t always look so cool. Over a decade ago, and totally on a whim, I spent what felt like a small fortune on one. It was perfectly faded; with a fitted shape and complete with classic pearly snap buttons. I loved the look of it, just not on me. For years I kept it but never wore it. Several times I tried to toss it, but couldn’t bring myself to let it go. Its potential lingered from closet to closet. And then one day I pulled it out from under a pile of similarly long-held rejects and whoa! In an instant, that chambray shirt just worked. Something had changed, no idea what, but I was in. I wore it to death, until an un-repairable rip finally tore us apart.
Nowadays I own several chambray shirts, and have to restrain myself from acquiring more. Although, like black boots or worn-in t-shirts, they all differ enough that I feel like you can’t ever really have too many. My search for a first replacement chambray shirt led me to the men’s department – an area I hadn’t shopped for myself in since high school days when men’s second hand Levi’s were a must-have. I was looking for a slouchier cut than the predecessor, the perfect proportional companion to skinny jeans. I found one that fit the bill, soft in color but updated with dyed elbow patches and a single pocket. Its simple style has garnered compliments from men and women alike, and I love its versatility. It’s an ideal layering piece over a striped long sleeve shirt for kicking about. And I love to dress it up, wearing it tucked into a metallic skirt. Lately I’ve been all about the buttoned up look, with the collar closed right under the chin and a statement collar necklace on top as an enhanced frame.
Besides my go-to pale blue number, there’s a dark wash one finished with Aztec-inspired fabric details over the back shoulders. It’s been in heavy rotation with my waxed burgundy jeans all season. And then there’s a delightfully polka dotted one, the latest edition and the most feminine in my chambray shirt collection. Perhaps that’s the appeal of this type of shirt for me. As one who doesn’t tend towards the frou-frou of frills and ruffles (the shimmering allure of a sequin is a different story), I appreciate the androgyny of a denim shirt. I appreciate that you can make it whatever you want, whenever you want and easily change it up day to day.