We say denim shirt and you say what? Blue jeans workwear? Spaghetti westerns? Texan tuxedos? Whatever springs to mind, we’d wager that you don’t associate these pearl-poppered, shoulder-panelled pieces of western workwear with smart, sharp dressing. But we’re here to tell you that you rootin’ tootin’ should do.
Denim gets a bad rap in the eveningwear game. Seen as rough, ready and rugged, no-one thinks to pair denim or chambray shirts with even simple suiting — let alone black tie. But, in a world where dress codes are increasingly blurred, brands have been working hard to bring denim into the formal mainstream. And believe us, a denim shirt can be more refined than you think…
With neat pleats, a denim dress shirt is your new black tie must-have
That’s right; denim dress shirts. Some have pleats, others have cutaway collars — but all look the part. Although occasions to dust off your dinner jacket may currently be few and far between, denim introduces a little individuality to your traditional tux, with the blue hue bringing head-turning interest that white will not.
From Turnbull & Asser, this dark blue denim-cashmere shirt is the perfect blend of laid-back and luxury. Richard James has paired things back with its classic chambray — complete with the western pearl buttons as a nice nod to denim’s utilitarian beginnings. And Eton has a reliably chic take on the idea, with soft lightweight denim available in two fits.
Turnbull & Asser Dark Blue Denim Dress Shirt
Richard James Chambray Dress Shirt
Eton Lightweight Denim Shirt
These customisable, office-ready button-ups will bring denim to your desk
And then there’s the office. Whether you’re working-from-home or not, companies across the world have relaxed their own dress codes in the last few years. Thankfully, the humble denim shirt can add a frisson of formality to your officewear — whilst still keeping things casual. It’s an easy way to add more texture to the duds you wear behind your desk, and the colour really pops on a conference call…
Emma Willis is the gold standard here. Hand cut and finished in its Gloucester factory using single-needle stitching, you can choose a fit and collar size that complements your existing workwear. Brunello Cucinelli offers a similar level of quality, all rendered in 100 per cent pure cotton denim. And denim kings Ralph Lauren will ensure you stay sharp throughout the year with this subtly branded, button-collar option.
Emma Willis Denim Blue Brushed Cotton
Brunello Cucinelli Washed-Denim Shirt
Polo Ralph Lauren Slim-Fit Denim Shirt
Up the formal factor a little with these smart casual denim shirts
Of course, there’s no need to dress up every day. If you feel most comfortable keeping your denim shirts for the weekends — but still want to add some style to their pure practicality — we’ve found some smart casual options that refine the fabric without sacrificing its multiple benefits.
Loro Piana, for example, has tailored this shirt to a high summer standard — and serves as a way to introduce denim into your warm weather summer wardrobe. Orlebar Brown’s denim shirt maintains a refined fit and contrast buttons, but has a neatly curved hem if you want to wear it untucked. And A.P.C have overhauled the overshirt; giving the practical garment a chic spin in indigo-blue lightweight denim.
Loro Piana Camp-Collar Denim Shirt
Orlebar Brown Giles Washed-Denim Shirt
A.P.C Kerlouan Denim Overshirt
Looking for more ways to smarten up your everyday outfits? These are the best Savile Row tailored face masks for men…
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