The chambray shirt, as we know it now, has been on the scene for a good 10+ years. It’s one of those pieces that I’ve seen so much and worn so much that it’s starting to feel a little boring.
In fact, this summer, I fell out of love with my chambray shirt.
I wore it here and there, but I never felt like myself in it. I alllllmost moved it into my storage box, thinking a break from it might help me rekindle the love.
But I’m glad I didn’t. Turns out, all it needed was the tiniest bit of creative styling:
Instead of wearing it buttoned up, like I usually do, I’ve been treating it as a layering piece — wearing it open, like you see here, paired with a high waist and a tucked tee. Those dramatic flares sure help to liven it up, too.
I’ve also been wearing it tied around my waist, and I think it will look killer layered with my new favorite color: cognac / burnished cedar. Can’t wait to try it!
A couple of quick notes about the other pieces in this outfit:
Flares / Looking at these photos, I’m thinking I should hem them just a touch. I know I mentioned that I liked the long hems in this post — and I still want them a little long — but I want to get rid of a few of those breaks.
Tee / I was really happy to find that washing this tee is a breeze. I’ve run it through a cold cycle in the washing machine a few times now. Usually I have to reshape my linen tops after each wash, but this one holds it’s shape — hooray! I still air dry it so that it doesn’t shrink. Fit wise, it’s got great drape and a really, really flattering V, that’s sharper and more pronounced than most V necks. Here’s another outfit with this tee.
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Liked today’s outfit? You can shop it and support Unfancy at the same time by using these affiliate links:
01 | Tee by Everlane (made responsibly)
02 | Chambray shirt by Madewell
03 | Jeans by Paige (made in USA + on sale) | same jean in a different wash | similar for under $80
04 | Ankle booties gifted by Fortress of Inca (made responsibly) (Fit note: I took my usual size 7 and they fit just right — although if you want to wear them with socks, you might want to size up a half size.)
05 | Bag by Meyolo (made responsibly + my sis-in-law owns this shop!)
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How are you feeling about your chambray shirt these days? Still into it or not so much? Got any styling tips that might help shake things up and give our chambray shirts new life? Share away!
I have tried on dozens of chambray shirts over the years. But I’ve never bought one. I like the idea for layering but for some reason they just never look right on me. I’m thinking it’s because I’m tall and a large-ish chest. Button ups rarely fit quite right. :( maybe open like this. But I’d hate to get a shirt I couldn’t wear buttoned up too…
Sara, I’m also large chested and I have similar troubles with button up shirts. Give Tradlands a try. Their shirts are made in the USA for women only. Their shirts have an extra button (total of 8, I think, whereas most shirts have 7). They’re beautifully made and their customer service is fantastic. They have a chambray and while I don’t have it, I do have an oxford, a flannel, a work shirt and another cotton dress shirt. They’re the only button ups that have ever worked for me.
I was going to suggest Tradlands also! :) xo, Caroline
Sounds like a great company. I live in Canada though and while I sometimes order through the states, it is kind of a pain with our low dollar right now! :) thanks tho ladies.
I’m busty with long limbs, but I found button-downs from Old Navy fit me really well! I get the classic cut in tall sizes and they work really well. I’ve only had a gaping issue when I wore a cotton tank under a flannel – static cling made the shirt bunch and pull funny.
I love my soft chambray that I got second hand this summer. To me, pairing it with skinny jeans and Burgundy or olive bandana feels fresh. I also pair it with something fancy, like my black velvet embossed leopard pencil skirt…the dichotomy of the casual chambray and the dressy pencil and heels is fun and fresh
Chambray and pencil skirts – good one! I like this idea.
Sounds super cute Holly. I guess, like with any classic piece, you can make it feel fresh again with great accessorizing! :) xo, Caroline
You had a wonderful idea to refresh you denim shirt! The combiniation looks indeed totally new although you own your shirt already since that long time :)
xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
I’m on the East Coast so in the fall/winter I like to layer it under a crewneck sweater. It gives a more casual feel to the professional look. I also have a few in different textures. I have one that’s very thin, almost blouse-like so that gives the shirt a different look. I’ve had this same issue though with my many riding boots. They seem to be popular every year, but last year I hardly wore them at all and this year I’ve worn them a few times, but I feel so tired of the look.
Hey Nicole, that’s understandable. The “perfect” boot height changes all the time too! So I just stick with booties for now :) xo, Caroline
No sorry, the chambray shirt still looks dated to me. I like your outfit though, but I just know I need to stay away from that item – as you said we’ve seen it forever now. I have fond memories of what I did and felt like in some of my best chambray shirts, but I’ve moved on.
Your flares on the other hand – need to get some of those ASAP!
I wear my chambray shirt in all of the ways mentioned: as a layer, with cognac ankle pants, with black velvet, under a crew neck sweater. I’ve worn it with a black pencil skirt and a black blazer. I’ve worn it thrown over a sun dress. One season I wore it with khaki pants every week with a changing array of scarves and necklaces. A chambray shirt is one of the very few items I count as a solid-must-have staple in my closet.
Hey Virginia, all great ideas. Thanks for sharing! :) xo, Caroline
I still love mine! Probably one of the most worn pieces in my closet overall since it’s so neutral and works across all seasons (I use the term “seasons” lightly in Southern California)
I wear it over, under, buttoned, unbuttoned, with jeans, shorts, rompers, dresses…
I think it just goes with my Denim Forever mentality! ;)
Lauren @ Lauren, etc. says
I’m wearing my chambray right now, and I’ll all about the creative styling as you mentioned. Right now it’s the J.Crew sleeve role with the half tuck in the front. In the summer it was layered with a tank or tied around a dress. In the fall it’s layered under an open cardigan or a crewneck sweater. It’s also fun to pair with unexpected colors & prints like florals, neons, and fair isle. I can’t imagine chambray ever leaving my wardrobe!
Hey Lauren, all great suggestions. Thanks for sharing. I’m so curious to know how long chambray sticks around, and what (if anything) designers will do to update it! :) xo, Caroline
I (finally) bought a chambray this summer and I love it. Used it all summer as a light layering piece and loooking forward to using it in colder weather. I’m late to the game so not tired of it at all.
It took me a long time to embrace chambray. It always reminded me of something my mom would lounge around in in the early 90’s and I couldn’t see the appeal. But then suddenly I changed my mind.
So now I probably look dated in mine but a don’t care, I just love it! :)
Hey Kat, I’m sure it looks great. If nothing else, it will work until the 90’s revival is over! ;) xo, Caroline
I’m new to the Chambray scene and am very much in love! I’m currently on the hunt for more in different shades…
I just got my first chambray this Spring! (34 y/o) hah!…and I also got my first linen Tee (resale) and shrunk it on the first wash :( didn’t know it had to be line dried! Thanks for the comment :)
Hey Bobbiejean, you might be able to save it by soaking it in the sink with baby shampoo for 5-10 minutes. Then, instead of wringing it out, lay it flat on a towel and reshape it. It’ll take a while to dry, but I’ve heard it can help! :) xo, Caroline
I don’t have a chambray shirt, but I do have a few linen tops and not only am I able to machine wash them on cold, I can machine dry them on low without shrinkage. And then I don’t have to iron them.
Hooray for no ironing, Carol! :) xo, Caroline
I’m wondering if chambray will move to other shades rather than sticking to blue? I’m thinking a washed out charcoal, or dusty pink, or olive. Similar to varying colours of denim, although I’m not ready for that super bright jeans phase to come back anytime soon :) But those more neutral shades, yes, I would definitely be keen to snap something like that up if I find it.
Hey Lacey, if you check out Tradlands, I saw they were doing some colors like that! (http://bit.ly/2etjnjS) :) xo, Caroline
Sarah Robins says
Hi Caroline! I’m loving the cognac and cedar, as well. Would love to know the sources of a few pieces you have found that fit that vein. Thanks!
Hey Sarah, I’m kind of seeing it pop up everywhere from Madewell to Jamie + the Jones. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing lots more of it too :) xo, Caroline
I personally don’t like denim, I don’t even wear jeans, but what I love and what really makes me happy wearing are dresses! So, a few months ago, in search for a warm autumn/winter dress in sturdier fabric (I see we think alike, due to your previous post, Caroline ;)) I stumbled upon a beautiful long-sleeved denim shirtdress – and fell in love! It’s a simple straight design, two front pockets, only a few buttons in front – not all the way down. Now I wear it with sleeves rolled up a bit + ballerinas / sneakers, but in winter I’ll add a long sleeved top under it for layering / a cardigan + tights + boots.
I buy clothes very rarely and spend quite some time searching for a particular item with the right quality. I wish there were more producers of (what I call) smart clothes – clothes that serves it’s purpose, is easy wearable, is supporting the weather conditions it’s made for… Sometimes it’s a real struggle finding simplicity, quality, comfort… But then, it’s always like that in life, right? :) Let us all just hang in there! :)
Hi Petra, thank you for sharing what works for you! I love that you are mindful and thoughtful about the process. :) xo, Caroline
So lovely to see that a chance of mindset is what one needed sometimes to revive a piece of clothing :)
I have a darker traditional button up chambray and another lighter cowboy-esqe style one. For me, I graduated from the t-shirt and hoodie days of college into the t-shirt and chambray days of my early 30’s. I also wear them to make some of my dresses more casual everyday pieces. I’m not giving up on it yet!
K nova says
I bought three chambray shirts over the years and none of them were ever worn, despite the fact that I wear flannel shirts all the time. Finally i saw a chambray with little embroidered stars just running across the front lapel in a line and I LOVE this shirt. Just an idea that adding some little embroidery or patch to a chambray might be all you need to give it a kick!
I still like chambray shirts, though mine’s been out of commission because I’m preggo and unsure how to style it (despite many cute pinterest examples). As for the flares- Like how these look on you. However, I can see what you mean about being unsure of the hems. I think there is 70s long (skims the floor when you are in boots) and there’s the oughts long (where they kinda piled up a bit on the floor). I think the trend now is more 70s than 00s, but….
Kimi, Cotton Cashmere Cat Hair says
I was totally just thinking that I am kind of over my regular long-sleeved chambray shirt right now. I love my sleeveless chambray shirt, though, so I’ll try playing around with layering that this fall/winter. I think it’ll be perfect for layering under sweaters (and less bulky!).
I LOVED your this chambray shirt with boyfriend jeans and clogs that you posted earlier this summer/fall. I have a light chambray but it’s not as light as yours – I wish it was. The light-dark contrast is perfect. I’d like to find one in pure white or ivory, just because of the practicality of the sturdier fabric over the cotton poplin of most of my white shirts.
I’ve seen a lot of different takes on chambray lately – an effort I am sure by retailers to keep people buying. But nonetheless I did get a longer chambray (long enough to wear over leggings) popover top that mixes things up a bit. I like the popover look – buttons only halfway down – for that length. I also got a darker, collarless, sleeveless chambray with a tiny faded diamond print (Bridge and Burn had something similar to it earlier this year) and the print shakes things up a bit. I’ve found lots of ways to style it.
I love all chambray b/c it is so sturdy and holds up to my life-on-a-farm-with-kids lifestyle, I don’t know what I would do without it. In spring/summer, it’s chambray…in fall/winter, flannel.
My style evolves slowly (something I am thankful for I guess) and I’m older than you, so flares still look early 2000s-ish to me, not to mention not at all practical, and not so interested in going back to that. Glad others are having fun giving them a go.
I have been pregnant most of 2016, so my beloved chambray shirt became a layering piece just like this look since I couldn’t button it around my belly :) And now that I’ve had my baby (11 days old!) I think I’m going to continue wearing it in different ways than I did before!
On a personal note, I have blue eyes, and, to use your color terms, kind of cedar colored hair (ha). So, light blue has always looked good on me. 20 years ago it was light blue cashmere cardigans with tiny pearls, but of course I’m so over that now. Chambray is the one kind of light blue clothing that doesn’t feel too delicate to me these days. So I will never give it up! Just a little light blue collar sticking out under a sweater, cardigan, even under a (certain kind of) dress or flannel in fall, is all it takes, and I feel my best. Don’t give up on it. We have to stop giving up things just because they feel tired. Put them away for a season, by all means. But if an item once served you well, it will do so again, I believe. Just give it time. Thanks for keeping at it and always trying to find new ways to make old things work for you.
Liesbeth Verlinden says
I agree that it’s become tricky to style chambray now that it’s everywhere. But to me, my chambray shirt has become a classic staple. I rarely build an outfit around it anymore, but often when I’m lost for a casual comfy outfit that still looks intentional, the chambray shirt comes to the rescue. Worn open or buttoned, with sleeves up or down, as a topper or an underlayer, it works for every climate situation and pairs with any color or other neutral.
Emily Mahi'ai says
I had the opposite problem with my chambray shirt: I used it so frequently as a layering piece that I got bored of it, so I started wearing it as a stand-alone shirt all buttoned up and it helped me like it again! Crazy how much difference a teeny adjustment can make.
I like your look (I adore your palette of cognac/camel, blues, and black) and I agree that the flares update the chambray. However, I’m not as fond of flares on my body so I think I’ll store my chambray for a little while. I love the feeling when you pull a piece out of storage and it feels new again. :)