It’s fun to watch styles filter down from prêt a porter collections to mainstream fashion. Remember how denim shirts started surfacing as fringe fashion 6 months ago?  Well, true to the resurgence of 90’s fashion, edgy denim shirts are popping up everywhere in all sorts of styles, weights, washes and price points. Sister to the denim shirt is the preppier, blue chambray shirt and that’s making a big comeback too.

This might not strike a chord with you immediately, but I’m making the denim shirt a “must have” for Spring. It’s versatile once you’ve got your head around how to wear the item both casually and with more dressy pieces. It also double duties as a great layering piece for Autumn.

It starts with selecting the right style for you. For some this means a regular shirt, and for others it means a tunic or empire cut style. It took me ages to find the right denim shirt because I was fussy about the details. It had to be soft and lightweight like a shirt and not feel heavy like a jacket. It also had to be in the right wash and fit just so. I didn’t fancy the more clean-cut chambray shirting styles either, feeling that they’re too preppy for my fashion persona – but again, this might be a nice option for you.

Chambray Western Shirt Denim  Shirt Chambray Boyfriend Shirt

Selvedge Chambray ShirtVintage Chambray Western ShirtDenim Chambray Dress

I eventually found the perfect denim shirt at the Gap (top left in the pictures above). It happens to be very similar to a Levi’s denim shirt that I wore to death in the early 90’s. I fell in love with my new shirt’s pearlized snap-buttons which, of course, are a great match with my unending assortment of pearl necklaces.

Once you’ve found the denim shirt that’s right for you, try wearing it in these easy ways:

  • With black bottoms or micro check pants: Matching a denim shirt with a casual bottom in a different colour or fabrication is a no-brainer. Black jeans, Ponte knit pants or woven cigarette pants are the easiest options. Create outfit interest with items like a belt, lacy camisole, scarves and a jacket. Julie showed us how to wear this look with sass and style a few months ago.
  • With white denim bottoms: For an effective fresh edge, substitute black bottoms for white jeans or a white denim skirt.
  • With a dressy skirt: Adding a dressy spin to a denim shirt is my favourite way of wearing the item. The J Crew outfit (bottom left above) is a fabulous example of this concept.
  • Over leggings: You’ll need a denim tunic like the Esprit style above for this look. Add boots or ballet flats and you’re set. So easy for gals on the go.

For years it’s been a fashion faux pas to wear denim on top of denim (for example, a blue denim shirt with jeans in a similar wash). Believe it or not, it’s this very faux pas that’s become all the trendy rage. (I love it when fashion reinvents itself to make old faux pas stylishly acceptable). I believe that denim on denim can work when the rest of the outfit variables are right. You’ll need to pick your denim items carefully and add in a good amount of additional textural interest to the outfit – a topic for another day. I’ll be sporting both mainstream and more daring denim shirt looks over the next few weeks so stay tuned for examples.