How to Wear a Chambray: 20 Ways

If you haven’t received the memo, a chambray is one of the coolest must-haves for collegiettes. Wait, a cham-what? We’re talking about those fabulous denim button-ups worn by fashionistas like Ashley Greene and Alexa Chung.  Though it makes more of a statement than your average oxford shirt, a chambray is surprisingly versatile. “I feel like I can throw it on with no effort and it looks good,” says Jaime Morgen, a junior at Tufts University. But how are you supposed to wear a chambray? We’re glad you asked!

Whether you’ve never owned a chambray or shamelessly have a dozen in your closet (don’t worry, we’re not judging), every collegiette needs some pointers on this emerging trend. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite denim tops (plus 20 ways to wear them).

Are you a chambray virgin? If so, we suggest this Madewell shirt ($75). It may be simple, but it will quickly become a staple in your wardrobe. If you’re craving a chambray with a feminine touch , try Superdry’s romantic take on the chambray ($90)—the ruffles are to die for! In the event you’re already looking for a summery take on this sartorial phenomenon, try J.Crew’s beachy tunic ($70). For those who are absolutely obsessed with chambray shirts (guilty as charged), give your growing collection a funky twist with J.Crew’s polka-dotted denim top ($88). A versatile take on this must-have trend? We approve! With so many options, think of a chambray shirt as a potential boyfriend—there’s one out there that’s perfect for you!

1. Rock the Canadian Tuxedo

Some call it the “Canadian Tuxedo,” others call it the “Texas Tuxedo,” but we think of this ensemble as effortlessly edgy. But before you throw on your favorite pair of skinnies, make sure your jeans and chambray are two different shades. There’s a fine line between “effortlessly edgy” and “Britney Spears at the 2001 American Music Awards”. And trust us, you do not want to cross that line. For a finishing touch, add a red lip and toss your hair into a messy bun.

2. Keep it chic with black jeans

If the “Canadian Tuxedo” is a little too… out there for you, keep your ensemble polished with a simple pair of black jeans. “The contrast of the light blue and the black prevents a denim-on-denim disaster,” notes Kate Moriarty, a junior at Skidmore College and HC Contributing Writer. For a dash of pizzazz, add a statement necklace or a trendy pair of shoes.

3. Pair with printed pants

A favorite among most style trailblazers, this ensemble requires loads of confidence. The poppy print coupled with the attention-grabbing denim is courageous and stylish at the same time. Let’s not forget that it’ll instantly make you one of the best dressed collegiettes on campus. Since this duo commands enough attention for one outfit, finish this look with a simple pair of flats and dainty jewelry.

4. A jean-ious cover up

Since you’re probably too busy trying to score that impressive beach body or find the perfect bikini, allow us to help you find the perfect cover-up. Lucky for you, styling an oversized chambray with your adorable bathing suit is so beachy chic. Add some sunscreen and a pair of your coolest shades and you’re ready to hit the surf in style.

5. Add a pop of color

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: a chambray top plus colored jeans equals sartorial bliss. Since this outfit is packed with color, complete this look with basic ballet flats. Whether you opt for a pair of orange pants or bordeaux jeans, this outfit is collegiette-approved all year round.

6. Look polished with a short skirt

If Blair Waldorf were to sport a chambray shirt, we can only imagine that she would pair the trendy top with a flirty mini skirt. Of course we’re not talking about a super tight mini that you’d wear to frat row. Instead, keep it classy—an A-line skirt, for example, is ideal. We love this look because it’s tame enough for class and quirky enough for a coffee date with your girlfriends. Unleash your inner queen bee even more with a pair of funky tights. But hold off on that headband—it’s so Blair at Constance.

7. Boho chic with a maxi skirt

Take a fashion note from Mary Kate and Ashley’s boho era and style your trusty denim shirt with a maxi skirt. But won’t all that fabric make you look like you don’t have a figure? Accentuate your waist by knotting your chambray. In addition to looking like an Olsen twin—because, deep down, you’ve been dreaming of that since you watched Full House—you can actually wear this getup all year round as long as you wear a season-appropriate maxi: heavier fabrics are winter-worthy while cottons and silks tend to be more suitable for the summer. Don’t forget to add proper shoes for the season—boots for the winter and sandals for the summer.