Style Diary: The Diet Denim That Isn't Denim
Chambray made it’s way into America in the early 19th century and quickly became one of the staple fabrics of the workforce. The lightweight weave, used for it’s sturdiness and durability, became so widely accepted that the term “blue collar” was coined.
Most individuals (including myself) use 'chambray' and 'denim' interchangeably but the fabrics are quite different. In fact, when researching for this post, I found that the only similarity between the two fabrics is the fact that both are cotton fabrics and made by weaving white yarn through indigo dyed yarn.
Chambray originated in Cambrai, France in 1595 where it was used to used primarily to make sunbonnets. It made first appearance in America in the 1800s and, today, there are chambray shirts, skirts, dresses, shorts, pants, ties, pocket squares, and jackets. Denim comes from a fabric that was made in Nimes, France in the 1500s ('denim' is an abbreviated form of 'de Nîmes' which is French for "from Nîmes") which was popularized in America when Levi Strauss, a German immigrant, used it for creating work pants during the California gold rush of the 1870s.
Chambray is a the lighter of the two fabrics and usually light blue in color with less durability. Denim is a twilled cloth (weaved using an iconic diagonal pattern which produces an overall tougher material) and chambray is woven with crossed threads (weaved in the fundamental plain weave: the filling yarns pass over and under the warp yarns).
Chambray and denim shirts are most definitely a year round favorite for me. I usually wear my chambrays in warmer weather and denims in cooler weather. They are, by far, the most versatile pieces I've ever owned, as I am able to dress them up and dress them down for nearly any occasion.
Best. Wardrobe. Staple. Ever.