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.

The Fit

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.

Care

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

Thanks, Beau!

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.

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17 Responses

  1. Andy Budnik on

    I love these five ways to wear series. Really gives great options and has helped greatly when looking at what colors and fabrics go together as I build up a versatile wardrobe and find some go to looks. The only thing I don’t usually agree with are the watches. I’m big on watches and feel that in a lot of cases, just as shoes do, they really tie an outfit together. I’m more akin to Citizen, Bulova, Seiko. Love gold with browns and blues and then silver with anything.

      • Andy Budnik on

        Good to know. Thanks! Any chance you could do a post on what to wear with some of the more difficult colors? I’m a big fan of purple, but finding out if brown/black/grey goes with which shade has proven troublesome.

    • Bo on

      Thank you for the kind words on the series! Agreed that watches tie an outfit together too! Just looking for versatile pieces at a slightly lower price point (although those three you listed are certainly affordable, too!) — a silver dive watch, for example, goes with anything I think! 🙂

  2. anon on

    What is the quality like with Joe Fresh? Ive never heard of it. Plus, do you think the J Crew pair is not slim enough for casual wear? I have a pair of Bowery pants in cotton and the cuff is pretty wide. That may look off with sneakers?

    • Anon on

      Great lack of response, author. We got a “Boom. Love it” on a post which was not a question but a blatent ignore on my *actual* question.

      • Bo on

        Hey there — thanks for reading! Joe Fresh’s quality isn’t as high as J. Crew but certainly isn’t as low as, say, H&M. So it’s about the Uniqlo/Gap range, I feel. Personally I think if you’ve got the Bowery Slim pants, that might work in a pinch — to me though, something like the J. Crew 484 cut is probably going to look best with these looks.

  3. MJ on

    Great post. These kinds of things would benefit SO Much from having the photos as you do have them laid out, but ALSO with a picture of someone actually wearing all of them together.

    • Bo on

      Hey MJ — thanks for the feedback and the kind words on the article! That’s in the works for the next post in this series 🙂

    • a t on

      that would be great but it also limits the outfits to things they can actually get their hands on as opposed to anything on the internet they want to recommend

  4. a t on

    i love these 5 ways articles. this one is less useful to me because i dont see myself ever buying those pants in the near future, nor do i have all of those blazers, shoes, shirts, etc, but i still love the series.

  5. Joshua on

    Barron: will you please shed some light on your experience (if any) with Twillory shirts? How’s their fit? Texture? Customer service?

  6. Len Geiger on

    Thanks for the great article!
    Chambray is a great material. Chambray shirts have been a favorite for years. I recently found a pair of Slim Bedford pants on sale at the J Crew Factory store in St Augustine.
    I realize now I should have picked up two pairs. These are getting a LOT of wear!