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What Is Chambray?

Dress to Impress - ChambrayIf you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, you likely will very soon.  Anything made from this material is soft, easy to wear, easy to clean, and very versatile.  What am I talking about?  I’m talking about the one and only chambray!

What is Chambray?

By definition, chambray is a plain woven fabric made  from cotton or synthetic fibers, often produced in checkered or striped patterns. Usually made from blue and white yarns and used to make shirts, dresses and children’s clothing, the fabric originated in the town of Cambrai in northern France.

Also known as “cambric”, chambray uses a white weft and indigo warp to create a fabric that looks similar to denim, yet is much lighter. A heavy version of chambray is used for workmen’s shirts in the United States, and was what inspired the phrase “blue collar”.

Chambray vs. Denim

A common misconception about chambray is that it’s the same thing as denim.  Let’s be clear.  Chambray is not denim!  There are probably more similarities than differences between the two, but there are some differences.

Chambray and denim are types of cloth fabrics. Usually, they are both blue in color on the bolt, but color variations are available in both types. Both are coarse cloths, that is, the threads per inch in the cloths is lower than for finer, higher count fabrics such as percale. Both are made of cotton.

Chambray is the lighter of the two fabrics; sort of like muslin. It is also usually light blue in color. Denim is the heavier of the two fabrics; similar to a lightweight canvas. It is usually dark blue – darker than chambray. Chambray is usually used to make long and short sleeved work shirts, while denim is usually used to make work pants or jeans. Denim is also used to make overalls, skirts, jackets, purses, shorts, pillows, and sundry other useful items that require durability from the cloth. Chambray can be used where a lighter fabric is more appropriate.

Chambray Closet Must-Haves
  • Chambray Button-Up Shirt – This is a go to choice for summer as it pairs well with light denim, dark denim, and different prints and patterns.  It also can be dressed up or down easily depending upon the accessories you choose.
  • Chambray Baseball Cap – When you are having a bad hair day or just a low-key casual day, a chambray baseball cap is a stylish and feminine way to top off your look.
  • Chambray Short – For days when denim is just too heavy for the weather, try a pair of short made from this fabulous material!  Whether you like your shorts cuffed, knee-length, or shorty short, chambray can polish off your look.
  • Chambray Jumper – A simple look for an upbeat casual day, the chambray jumper will stay with you through many summers.  Just be sure to get a cut that’s flattering for your figure.
  • Chambray Maxi Skirt – A maxi skirt made out of this lovely material will be soft and have lots of movement.  Pair with a great plain white tee + a wide belt and you have a great bohemian inspired look for summer.


Shop My Picks of Chambray Wardrobe Staples!


So how do you feel about chambray?

Is it something you could see yourself wearing, or are you a die-hard denim lover?

Comment below!

2 Comments on What Is Chambray?

  1. Kaisha - ColorMeLimitlessly
    at 9:07 pm (3 years ago)

    Honestly, I did not know the difference until I did a Google search. I really thought that it was a denim button-down and then my sister told me that it is a chambray. SMH! Hey, but now I know.

      at 9:09 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi Kaisha,

      No worries!

      It’s an easy mistake to make:) Chambray is awesome for warmer weather and it’s so much easier to wear if you’re traveling.



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