Chambray vs. Denim: What's the Difference?

Chambray vs. Denim: What's the Difference?

Although these materials look quite similar and even share some of the same characteristics, chambray and denim are two different things and it helps to know what distinguishes each. Once you know the difference between chambray and denim, you can become more skillful in incorporating the two into your wardrobe and wearing each fabric stylishly. In this post, we will take a look at the unique characteristics of these two classic materials and discuss ways to use them in your outfits.

The Basic Characteristics of Chambray vs. Denim

To begin, let’s start by providing some of the defining characteristics of these two materials and reviewing their basic descriptions. Denim tends to be made of a more rugged material, typically a bit heavier and thicker with a rougher texture. Denim clothing also has a very classic, iconic look to it since the material has been a fashion staple for decades. Chambray is different in that it is far more lightweight with a softer texture and a very distinct sheen.

Basically, if you find yourself wondering what’s a chambray shirt vs. a denim shirt, understand that denim is designed with a twill weave while chambray is designed with a plain weave and chambray is softer and less rugged, which is why it’s often made as a shirt, whereas denim is for bottoms like women’s jeans or jackets.

The Many Ways to Wear Denim

Now, as we mentioned above, chambray is most often seen in shirts, but there are also denim shirts for those who want that option. For instance, a denim button-up shirt is great for anyone who spends long hours working in the great outdoors and might need something for protection against certain weather elements like harsh winds and debris. Denim shirts or denim t-shirt dresses can also be worn casually in social settings, but if you want something more relaxed, a chambray shirt in lieu of a denim one may be the way to go.

Of course, denim is used to create several articles of clothing, most famously jeans. Chambray wouldn’t be used to make jeans, but denim offers many different fits, cuts, and styles for men, women, and children, and people of all ages. Finally, another classic piece of denim wear is the denim jacket, which is a great staple to have in your closet no matter what your personal style is.

Chambray Shirts

While denim jackets and a good quality denim shirt are great things to have in your wardrobe, a button-up chambray shirt is also something you might want to consider adding to your clothing collection. It’s a great unisex piece that can be worn nicely with denim jeans, khaki pants, or capris. It makes for a relaxed look that can be both casual or appropriate for a workplace setting. A chambray shirt is also a great wardrobe staple because it is so versatile and can be worn in so many different ways. It can be worn as a jacket when layered with a basic t-shirt or tank top, or it can be worn as a shirt itself when buttoned up and layered with a proper jacket. Not only do chambray shirts look great with denim jeans and khaki pants, but if you want something far more casual, you can wear them with cargo pants or joggers.

Layering Dresses With Chambray or Denim

If you are creating a relaxed outfit for a laidback spring or summer evening and want to add a second layer to a dress, both chambray shirts and denim jackets are great choices. The trick is to keep in mind the texture and fabric of the dress. Are you wearing a casual, simple material like cotton? A soft cotton dress would look best when layered and contrasted with a more rugged material, hence the denim jacket. If you are wearing a soft, thin tank top and a long maxi skirt, an unbuttoned chambray shirt would work well as a second layer. It just depends on the mood you are in and the distinct look you are trying to achieve.

Chambray and Beyond

Although chambray shirts are more common than chambray in any other article of clothing, there are still other options if you are a big fan of the fabric. For example, there are chambray pants ideal for women’s loungewear since they are made with a much more flexible, loose, and lightweight material and particularly more comfortable when combined with linen material. There are also different shirt styles to choose from for both men and women, from short sleeve to long sleeve with a button up front. The further you go down the chambray rabbit hole, the more clothing pieces you will find, like a cute chambray sundress and chambray tank tops.

Feel confident about your new knowledge regarding the differences between denim and chambray. Use this information to your advantage and start having fun mixing and matching denim and chambray together and with other materials.


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