This little nugget of information for men will solve any argument between what is a denim fabric and what is chambray. To the common man in fact these might both be the same thing, pigeon holed simply as denim. But understanding the difference will ensure you get the right item for the right occasion.
Although similar to one another the difference lies in their construction. Chambray is a plain weave fabric woven using a coloured and a white yarn. Denim uses both a coloured and white yarn but is woven diagonally in a twill construction. The chambray will deliver a softer material, which is why it is most commonly found in men’s shirts.
With chambray, the white and coloured threads will alternate one over the other. With denim the threads will go over two threads before going under one. Turn the fabrics over and the chambray underside will be very similar in colour to the top. Whereas with the denim fabric the underside will be much lighter. You can test this perfectly by looking into the inside of a pair of selvedge denim jeans to see the stark contrast the denim provides.
Hopefully this has cleared things up for you and ended any pub-debate over the difference between the two fabrics.
Sam Brady is a menswear expert, having worked in or around the field for the past 14 years. He has built up a keen eye for detail when it comes to the production of clothing, and is happy showcasing the craftsmanship of Savile Row and Jermyn St. But he understands the need for an interchangeable modern man’s wardrobe that mixes high street and luxury clothing.