When bikinis and bare feet aren’t appropriate, we dig through our closets for summer weather outfits that won’t make us feel like dwindling ice cream in waffle cones, melting in the heat. And the material that seems to repeat in the carefully selected ensembles? Chambray, a plain-weave and lightweight cloth fabric (not to be confused with denim, which is weaved in a diagonal pattern, thus producing a heavier, tougher feel).
Come to think of it, she was around during fall and winter months too, in the form of an oversized, collared shirt and layered under thick cable-knit sweaters and wool peacoats. She even showed up quite a bit during spring as well, routinely thrown over dresses when the sun still hid shyly behind menacing clouds.
OK, maybe chambray is actually a year-round staple. But this summer? We think these are the months in which chambray can truly shine. Following are our favorite summer ways to style the breezy fabric:
In its Classic Form
If chambray already reigns in your closet, chances are at least one of those items is a collared-shirt. The neckband and button-up fastening result in a pull-together look—without seeming too prim and proper—fantastic for a relaxed weekend outing or Casual Friday at the office. Add a fun punch to the basics via citrus hues and fun sandals.
image via Girlcrush/Style Me Pretty
To Balance Out a Look-at-Me Skirt
Tuck that same beloved chambray shirt into a vivid midi-skirt for a blissful union of classic meets trendy.
image via Pink Peonies
As a Just-in-Case Adornment
For a hands-free accessory that can conveniently prevent goose bumps when the sun goes down, tie the chambray shirt around your waist. With its thinner nature, a chambray shirt is the ideal long-sleeved piece to pull off the effortless, 90s throwback trend, minus any bulkiness.
image via Cupcakes and Cashmere
As an Excuse to Prints-cercise
Quite frankly, we’re a little print-happy here at The Everygirl. But the more, the merrier, and choosing a chambray with a pattern updates the classic feel for the better—particularly when matched with a bright floral print.
image via The Adored Life
As a Dressed-Up Romper
Sure, a chambray romper is considered a youthful piece, but it doesn’t need to be restricted for sandboxes and music festivals. Acknowledge the romper’s quirkiness with supplemental stripes and a fruit print, but ramp up the glam factor with pointed heels and gold jewelry.
image via City Tonic
To Go All Out with the Whimsy
But, maybe you’d rather fully embrace the chambray romper for its playful core. If that’s the case, we would recommend adding polka-dots to the mix, plus a top knot, cheeky heart-shaped sunglasses and a bold red lip.
image via It’s Not Her, It’s Me
As a Refined Jumpsuit
Also shown at the top, elongate the girlish chambray romper into something more grown-up: a modern chambray jumpsuit. Though the fabric keeps the outfit summer-friendly, the sleek silhouette is appropriate for day or night — especially when accompanied by the right accessories.
image via Prosecco and Plaid
As a Casual Cool Dress
Black slip-on sneaks and a messy up-do are the perfect parallels to a utilitarian chambray shirtdress, but a shorter hemline and a gold chain retain enough femininity.
image via Could I Have That?
To Lounge in a Pair of Pants
We’re not sure why society deems a strictly pizza diet and wearing pajama pants every day as unacceptable; however, we must not falter in the face of adversity. To protest the madness, pull on a pair of just-as-comfortable chambray pants and keep the ensemble sufficiently polished with heeled sandals and a tied-up top.
image via Honey & Silk
As a Jaunty Pair of Shorts
The same goes for chambray shorts! If less fabric (i.e., shorts) doesn’t provide sufficient relief against the heat, it’s wise to pick a fabric, such as chambray, that still lets air in. A white top, delicate gold jewelry, and a large leather bag are no-brainer components of the fuss-free look.
image via Kendi Everyday
As a Flirtatious Pinafore
We’ll let it slip that this item is part-chambray, part-denim. Overalls are popping up everywhere this season, but the inclusion of an attached chambray skirt keeps things unexpectedly fresh.
image via Bambis Amoire
To Rock an Almost-Canadian Tuxedo
Denim Dan goes surprisingly chic with a loose, unbuttoned chambray over denim cut-offs, instead of going all-out denim on denim. We think three is actually very good company when another worn-in classic—a soft, striped tee—joins the trio of soulful blues.
image via Happily Grey