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The Journal

What Is Chambray?

If you’re a dedicated fashionista or someone looking for some new styles to add to your closet, chambray may be the subject of some of your research. Not a lot of people have heard of chambray, but it is an extremely versatile, comfortable fabric that should be incorporated into everyone’s wardrobe. Below, you’ll find valuable information on what chambray is, how it can be worn, and some key answers to common questions about chambray. Keep reading to learn more!

What Is Chambray?

Chambray is a fine, yet dense, material that is typically made out of cotton. It has a gentle texture and is quite thin when compared to other fabrics. Chambray has a light blue coloration with white interwoven throughout. The blue yarn is threaded through the warp in the fabric and the white yarn is woven through the weft. The result is a soft blue and white pattern with a plain weave style. Most people are familiar with chambray as the typical blue dress shirt - in the United States throughout the early 1900s, laborers would often wear denim jeans with chambray shirts, coining the term “blue collar” workers.

Chambray vs Denim

Chambray is often confused with denim because of the blue and white hue of the fabric itself. However, there are several differences between the two. Chambray’s tone is much lighter than denim, and has a much thinner texture. On a more detailed level, denim is crafted with a twill weave, while chambray is made with a plain weave. While denim offers a sturdy, restrictive feel, chambray is wispy and light, which makes it the perfect material for spring and summer clothing. Denim material is ideal for making jackets and jeans, but chambray can be used to make shirts, dresses, pants, shorts, shoes, light jackets, and more.

How Is Chambray Made?

Chambray is made through a multi-step process that begins by harvesting cotton either by hand or with a cotton gin. Since cotton fibers are stuck to seeds at the base of the plant, the two elements need to be separated to continue the process. The fibers are pulled away from the seeds and pressed into bales. After the bales of cotton have been processed, they are placed in production warehouses and sorted into various mixing machines. Once the bales have been mixed, they are introduced to a step called carding. When they are carded, they are being transformed from bales into long strands to make the upcoming weaving stage easier. You can’t skip to the weaving just yet, though. After carding, the cotton strands are combed to make sure that any debris is removed from the cotton so that the strands are ready for the final steps. Once combed, they are placed into spools and spun into yarn. As soon as this is complete, the yarn is ready to be woven into chambray fabric. Here’s a breakdown of the steps:

  1. Cotton Fibers Are Harvested
  2. Cotton Fibers Are Separated From Their Seeds
  3. Cotton is Baled and Opened
  4. Carding (The process of turning bales of cotton into long strands)
  5. Combing (The process of removing debris from the cotton strands)
  6. Finishing (The process of transforming the strands into yarn)
  7. Weaving (The process of making the yarn into fabric)

Different Types of Chambray

There are several terms to describe Chambray fabric, and some terms describe slightly different types of the material. The three most common types of chambray are the original chambray fabric, cambric, and batiste. Chambray is the material that has been described above, and is the classic fabric that makes up a majority of the chambray market.

Cambric is a slightly different material, although it is very closely related. Cambric has a similar weave to chambray, but is much lighter in texture. It has a very close construction and a smooth surface. Cambric was originally made with linen, but transferred over to cotton over time. Batiste is a term derived from the surname “Baptiste,” which is the fabled name of the weaver who created chambray fabric in the early 14th century. Don’t let the fancy name fool you, though - batiste fabric is identical to cambric.

How Is Chambray Worn?

There are many ways to wear chambray, as it is an extremely versatile fabric. Chambray can fit any occasion, any style, and anybody. Here are a few ways you can introduce chambray into your wardrobe:

  • Let Loose! Don’t be shy about opening up a few buttons, untucking your shirt, and embracing the breeze flowing through that airy chambray fabric. If you’re going on a picnic, hitting the beach, or taking a brisk stroll through your neighborhood, you can always throw on a chambray top and get a little casual.
  • Suit-up! Need a great way to stay comfy at work? Chambray has you covered. Whether you’re dressing up for an important Zoom meeting or staying stylish to get that big promotion, you can pair chambray with any sort of suit or sport it as a cutting-edge dress. There’s plenty of space for chambray in the boardroom.
  • Meet The Parents! If you’re searching for a happy medium between dressed-up and staying casual, chambray is a great way to go. You can match chambray with khakis, jeans, slacks, and a plethora of other options to stay comfortable and impress your significant other’s parents at the same time.
  • Get Shorty! Summertime heat got you down? Chambray shorts are the answer. Toss on a pair of these comfy, stylish shorts and get ready to take on the steamy weather. You can team chambray shorts up with virtually any top, making them a crucial part of your summer ensemble.

Is Chambray Eco-Friendly?

When you’re shopping for new clothes, staying environmentally conscious is very important. While there is a good deal of pollution caused by mass production of cotton, there are plenty of eco-friendly companies to choose from. Smaller local brands are often the answer to environmental issues, but that’s not to say that bigger names are always negligent about their environmental impact; several large corporations use non-toxic chemicals when making chambray products. In addition, cotton is a resource that is able to be produced sustainably, and when produced ethically and organically, has no negative impact on the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to some commonly asked questions about chambray:


What does chambray feel like?

As opposed to a material like denim that is sturdy and coarse, chambray has a light, airy feel that is gentle on skin and soft to the touch.

Does chambray drape well?

While chambray may not drape as well as other types of cotton materials, its light construction makes it capable of draping when needed.

Is chambray always blue?

Yes! Chambray is made with a signature blue and white weave that creates a light, summertime fit.


If you’re on the fence about getting some chambray clothing, just go for it! It’s always important to expand your wardrobe and consistently try new things. Chambray is so versatile and stylish that it can suit anybody - it’s all about the individual. Everyone is different, so start exploring to find the perfect chambray fit for you.