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What is Chambray?

BY Buffalo Jackson Insight
BY Grit Media

Revised 9/24

Chambray is a soft, lightweight fabric often mistaken for denim. Although chambray can be similar in appearance to denim, it is not the same fabric and is distinctive in the way it’s woven.

Okay gentleman, get ready to expand your knowledge on chambray vs denim:

Chambray Characteristics

Chambray is a plain weave fabric and is woven with colored yarn in the warp (vertical thread) and white in the weft (horizontal thread). This results in a soft, smooth texture and a slightly mottled appearance.

Despite its soft texture and comfortable feel,chambraycan still be found in both heavy and lightweight shirt options. The heavier the piece, the more durable and rugged it will be, making it perfect for a chilly night out in the woods—with your leather travel bag on your side. Or, opt for a lighter chambray shirt for a casual office look, and pair it with a sleek leather briefcase

Denim Characteristics

Similar to chambray, denim is also woven with dyed yarn in the warp/vertical and white in the weft/horizontal, but denim is woven with a twill construction as opposed to a plain weave. This means the threads in the chambray fabric are woven one over the other, while the denim’s vertical threads go over two horizontal threads before going under one.

When we think about how denim differs fromchambray,we often picture super durable, thick pieces of denim like blue jeans or hefty jackets from days gone by. Since denim tends to be a bit bulkier thanchambray, it’s a great material for outdoor adventures—whether you’re trailblazing in the woods or spelunking in some caves—it’s is a great outer layer of protection. And, denim pairs very well with waxed canvas bags, achieving that minimalist, yet eye catching look. 

Still tracking with us?

Chambray vs Denim: The Underside 

Due to the difference in weaving techniques, the underside of chambray is very similar to the face side; meanwhile, you’ll notice the underside of denim is normally much lighter than the front side of the fabric.

So, what is chambray? It is not just lightweight denim. Although denim and chambray can resemble each other and can each be found in both lightweight and heavyweight styles, they are different fabrics altogether.

Be sure to check out our line of great men’s shirts—built with rugged, wearable fabric (chambray or otherwise). Or, browse our full suite of outerwear pieces for something that you can throw on top of a lightweight chambray shirt to provide a bit more warmth. Not sure if chambray or denim suit your style to a T? Shop our collection of men's flannel shirts designed with quality and time-honored heritage in mind. 


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