Style and Styling

5 Ways to Style a Denim Shirt for Spring

Try Chambray for Work or Play!

Happy day, dear reader!

It is finally starting to feel like spring in our neck of the woods! It’s funny, but when I ask people their favorite season to dress for, they often answer fall or spring. There is something about those “shoulder seasons” that speak to many of us. I have to admit, fall is my favorite, but that’s because I love cozy layers (Not that Augusta, Georgia requires much cozy!). Growing up in Wisconsin, shedding the heavy winter layers for lighter spring layers and a windbreaker always felt like coming out of a cocoon.

Weather be darned. Whether I am spring-ing, or fall-ing, a denim or chambray shirt is always in my wardrobe. The chambray gets put away for winter, and the denim for summer, but together they cover my year. For some more fall-y ways to style the same shirt, check out this 5 Ways post. I know that not everyone likes a denim or chambray shirt. They skew too casual for some, or too heavy, or not stretchy enough. I shouldn’t like them because I generally avoid collared shirts, but for some reason the more casual vibe of denim and chambray avoids the uptight feeling a classic collared shirt gives me.

Think of your denim or chambray shirt as so much more than a shirt. It’s a lightweight denim jacket, it’s an overshirt, AND it’s a shirt. Mine is slim and fitted (with some stretch) but if your is looser and lightweight, you might want to tie it at the waist, or go for a half tuck. Since spring weather is so variable, I’ve included everything from boots to shorts today. So let’s get styling!

I’ve got a bit of iconoclast in me… Let’s start with denim for work. In many of today’s more relaxed workplaces, there’s nothing wrong with some denim. I’m good with that! (Years ago I wore my denim jacket over a black and white lace dress to an Air Force Ball. My date was not surprised, but quite a few others were!)

Work It: Denim Shirt + Dress Pants

If jeans don’t work at your work, a denim or chambray shirt might! Especially when you team it with metallic pumps and pearls as on the left. It’s even more likely to be welcomed with pumps and a blazer as illustrated on the right.

Remove the jacket from the look on the right above, pop on some ballet flats, and be after-work versatile. I call it Dawn to Dusk Dressing!

Play It: Denim Shirt + Sheath Dress

Want to get more wear out of that work sheath? Let’s give it a more casual vibe by throwing a denim shirt over it as a lightweight jacket. Compare the expected work look on the left with what happens with a change of the outer layer, and changing the pumps for boots.

Leave the boots in the car, pop the denim shirt into your tote with the jewelry in the pockets, and you are ready to go from office to relaxed. I love this kind of change from work to after. Just because you have carpool and bleacher time on the schedule doesn’t mean you need to stress out about getting home and changing. Keep it simple. Life is complicated enough!

Play It: Denim Shirt + (Colored) Skirt

When did we get the attitude that a skirt equals dressy? There is nothing inherently dressy about a skirt. Especially if you pair it with a denim shirt, loafers, and a pile of stone bracelets. You might choose to wear a cute pair of sneakers (plimsols) with this too, if that’s what your little heart desired.

Play It: Denim Shirt + White Jeans

If Denim on Denim is problematic, here’s a previous article about ways to wear double denim well. If those don’t work for you, denim on white denim will be more likely to make you happy! Yes, that is a bandanna style scarf tied around the wrist as a bracelet… And up in the hair if the weather gets warm.

Play It: Denim Shirt + Tank + Colored Shorts

A denim shirt with shorts? Of course! It makes a perfect lightweight layer over shorts and a tank. I wear my chambray shirt with shorts all summer long because I like my arms covered in the air conditioning. Swap the ballet flats for sneakers if you want more relaxed, or sandals when the weather warms up. It’s all about keeping those piggies comfortable!

How about you? Does a denim shirt live in your wardrobe? Is it a must-have for you? Or a mustn’t-ever? If it’s a never, why is that? Is it the idea, or the shirt itself? I have to admit that after wearing a chambray shirt with my name stenciled above the pocket for work, it took some time to come back and see the same kind of shirt with style eyes!

Are any of the looks above already in your rotation? Did you see one you might add? Let me know in the comments below… I do love to hear from you!

Stylishly yours,


  • Leslie Susan Clingan

    Pinned this, my friend. Otherwise, I will forget all of these great suggestions. Love the idea of using chambray with the shorts as a kind of light jacket. Looking for a denim midi-length skirt. Or a midi-length denim skirt, yeah, that sounds better. Suggestions?

    • closetplayadmin

      Thank you for the visit, AND the Pin, Leslie! Glad you found some inspiration here! That’s part of my purpose. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for that midi-length denim skirt… What silhouette do you prefer? More pencil/straight, or flowy? Being altitudinally challenged, I find midi’s awkward… Knee length is more versatile for me.

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