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All About Chambray

Posted: Jul 21 2016

Known as denim’s softer, laid-back cousin, chambray is basically the official fabric of an easy-breezy summer.

Image Courtesy of They All Hate Us

NRFB Version: 
Chambray Button-Up Shirt | Frayed Denim Shorts  | Taupe Fringe Booties 

Image Courtesy of See Want Shop 

NRFB Version: 
Chambray Button-Up Shirt | Blue Skinny Jeans  | Faux Leather Tote
Style Blogger Nichole Ciotti of Vanilla Extract in our Chambray Button-Up 

Chambray is a lighter alternative to denim jackets and shirts, especially in in the warmer months, and it makes for one foolproof outfit when paired with white jeans. Now, we aren’t the only ones that took notice of chambray’s airy quality… not even close.

Image Courtesy of Sincerely Jules  
NRFB Version:
Chambray Dress  | Blush Ankle Strap Sandals 

The roots of chambray stem from the mid-1500s in Early Modern France, from the area of Cambrai. The region produced a lightweight plain-weave fabric, then made of linen, called “cambric”. Sometime in the mid-1800s, cambric or chambray lost its association with linen and came to represent all shirts made of a plain-weave cloth.

Taking note from France, it quickly became an Americana staple – due to its rise in popularity for those working outdoors. A U.S Newspaper printed in 1831, states that chambray was best "for outdoor work in mild weather ... durable, firm enough to prevent sunburn, yet lightweight enough admit air and be fairly cool.” At the same time, it helped mask grease and dirt – which was highly valued at a time when doing laundry regularly was not as common (due to cost and labor involved).


Image Courtesy of Getty Images

In 1901, chambray became the official shirting material of the US Navy and remained so through World War II. Their uniforms consisted of dark-wash jeans and a chambray shirt (with sleeves typically worn rolled up) over a white tee. When the chambray shirts were freshly dyed, they had a darker hue, but as they were regularly exposed to spritzes of salty seawater, they lightened over time. The resulting medium-to-light indigo wash became the color for chambray and has inspired many of today’s fashions.


Image Courtesy of Getty Images

 The chambray shirt is a staple in the collective American conscious, and thanks to global street-style photographers, it seems like the rest of the world is following in suite. The chambray shirt is smart, casual and comfortable, yet sophisticated at the same time.

Image Courtesy of They All Hate Us
Image Courtesy of The August Diaries 
NRFB Version: 
Chambray Button-Up Shirt
Image Courtesy of Crystalin Marie 
NRFB Version: 
Cold-Shoulder Chambray Top | Black Skinny Distressed Jeans | Faux Leather Tote | Navy Bandana | Block Heels 
Shop the rest of our chambray picks HERE