Chambray’s workwear roots belie the menswear world’s current obsession with this fabric.
Once a hardy staple worn by tough men in tough jobs, it’s now being used for everything from suits to the ubiquitous (and controversial) jogger pant.
The type of pant we’re talking about today is a lot more polished — and hopefully, less controversial.
Although chambray as a shirting fabric is well positioned for true four-season wear, as a trouser, it’s best left for the warmer months. And it’s a piece that can be highly versatile, in the same way as denim or chinos.
No matter how muscular or large you might be, the biggest thing the men’s style community has learned across the past decade or so is the importance of a slimmed-down silhouette. We’re not talking Russell Brand-skinny here, but the same idea holds true even with a slightly dressier fabric like chambray.
Although these are trousers, not jeans, a nicely tailored pair is going to make all the difference. At the very least, aim for a straight to slim-straight cut with a slight taper from the knee down. A narrower leg opening is going to look best with lots of these looks — no puddles of fabric down by your shoes here.
This pair from Joe Fresh has an exceptionally tailored look and a pretty large range of sizes. These J. Crew chambray pants have a slightly more relaxed (but still tailored) fit in a cooler grey color and more sizes.
Since a chambray pant is going to be pretty versatile and ideally worn a few different ways (at least five!), they’re likely going to need some TLC. These will need to be washed at least fairly frequently and require more attention than a classic pair of blue jeans, too.
The best idea would probably be to machine-wash these pants if they’ve seen heavy wear — but do so on a light cycle with similar colors. Otherwise, spot cleaning with soap and water could also work. Ideally, these should then be hung to dry and ironed for a crisp finish.
Once you’ve got a couple browser tabs open for some shopping, here are some ideas on how to style this pair of pants.
1. Down to Business
- Grey cotton blazer
- Chambray trousers
- White OCBD
- Tan suede Oxfords
- Brown leather belt
- Steel mesh watch
- Red linen pocket square
While shades of blue and grey can sometimes get a little close on the color wheel, the pants and jacket in this look jive well enough (although you could go for a khaki blazer if you feel they’re too close in color).
The patch pockets keep the blazer super-casual, but a white Oxford adds some strength to the look’s top half. The red linen pocket square mixes in a great jolt of color — but in a nice washed-out shade ideal for spring and summer.
A simple pair of oxfords in tan suede (yes, sockless) places this outfit firmly in warm-weather territory.
The steel mesh watch could perhaps be the most conversation-worthy piece in the outfit though. Watches in this style are gaining slightly more visibility in the men’s fashion community, and the design of this timepiece keeps things super clean and simple, with just the slightest touch of contrasting blue.
2. Continental Cool
This look harnesses something most of our continental brethren do very well — the art of laid back, yet polished, dressing. The key here is the polo — the pindot print is subtle from far away, but visually interesting up close.
Again, going sockless — the right way, mind you – is another functional move for spring and summer that works particularly well with loafers. The ribbed cotton belt comes in an olive green shade that at first glance might not go with the blue in either the pants or the shirt — but navy and olive is a classic neutral color pairing.
A watch with some detailing brings a rugged edge to this ensemble, but if you wanted to keep things super clean, the steel mesh watch in option #1 could also be a solid option on your wrist.
3. Throwback Rugged
- Short-sleeve white henley
- Grey suede desert boots
- Patterned socks
- Braided leather belt
- Silver dive watch
The idea of pairing another workwear-type essential —a henley — with something now seen as slightly dressier — like these chambray trousers — is part of a wave of high-low combinations that has really picked up steam in recent years.
The key here is to keep both pieces slim — particularly the trousers — lest it look like these are misplaced suit pants.
While brown leather loafers could also be worn with this look for an even more easygoing vibe, grey suede desert boots provide nice texture, along with that braided waxed cotton and leather belt.
The rugged-tailored mash-up is all tied together by a sturdy dive watch. If the numerals on the dial stand out too much, you could also reach for this stainless steel watch instead for about $40 or so less.
4. Weekend Wear
As has been the theme of this post, if you’re wearing trousers in the heat, you’re going to want to keep things cool around your ankles — so we’re going sockless again, but this time with some sharp white sneakers.
Wearing white on the top and bottom necessitates some color to break things up, hence the patterned watch strap from The Knottery, who really do an excellent job when it comes to accessories like this.
The white popover keeps things loose and breezy, but the collar and polo-type cut make this fit for a weekend brunch or even a more laidback dinner out.
5. Clean-cut Chambray
- Silver knit tie
- White dress shirt
- Brown linen sportcoat
- Linen dotted pocket square
- Chambray trousers
- Olive oxford shoes
- Brown leather dress watch
For the final look on this list, the chambray trousers from the looks above act as a perfect stand-in for “regular” dress trousers.
This is the perfect look to pair with a lightweight blazer with a subtle pattern. The light color and fabric of the jacket, combined with a thinner chambray pant, makes this look office-friendly yet cool enough for drinks after work at a nice bar.
The real standouts here are the textured knit tie and the pindot pocket square – both deviations from a more typical silk tie and plain white pocket square. A navy knit could also bring out the subtle dots on the pocket square.
The blue pants really ground this look on the bottom half, and the olive oxford shoes, with their closed lacing and subtle medallion toe, are a beautiful addition in an unexpected color (though brown dress shoes could also work here just as well).
To finish things off, the above watch is super simple, crisp and well-designed — the perfect complement to a razor-sharp outfit.
Let’s Hear It
Have we convinced you to ditch those jeans and chinos (at least once in a while) for a pair of chambray pants?
Which one is your favorite look?
Tell us below, and if you have questions, leave them there as well.
Learn a few shortcuts to dressing well
Enter your first name and email, and I'll send you a free eGuide with quick and easy tips you can use today.