Your first denim shirt is a lot like your first love. You never forget it, and later versions (even if they’re better) never live up to the memory of the first one in your mind.
I got my first denim shirt years ago, from TJ Maxx for something like $35. After a few years, this piece of Calvin Klein overstock started displaying shades from all over the Pantone spectrum. The older it got, the softer the cotton got, and the grey threads started cropping through to create unifying waves of spruce and midnight denim, indigo, lapis and slate, to an almost ocean green saturation around the buttons. The Mother of Pearl snap buttons were well made. One of my favorite things about snap buttons was the ability to “rip” the shirt off when, well, you know…you’re overheated.
Like many of my favorite clothes, my denim shirt somehow got lost in the mix, lo those many years ago. It could’ve been a casualty of the black hole of socks in the dryer. Whatever the case, I wish I had it today as the cotton would be that much softer, the colors would be that much more intricate, but I also wouldn’t have to shell out for a new one. So I recently set out to find a new love…one of the most versatile items of clothing there is, in part because of it’s year round wearability.
After ruling most out by way of the Goldilocks principle, I landed on Diesel’s D-Rooke. The fit, darkish hue, and lack of yoke (while keeping the front pockets) was just what I was looking for. Collection wise, it’s also good to see that denim shirts are getting some love from designers at F/W collection shows this season. Todd Snyder, Visvim and DSquared2 all had modern takes on this closet staple.
In my pre-layering past, I wasn’t exactly up on all of the ways to wear a denim shirt. My favorite way is still sans undershirt, paired with some pants that aren’t jeans, preferably of a color that makes the blue stand out even more (I’ll leave the denim on denim look to the pros like Tom Ford and Lenny Kravitz). That said, I learned there’s more than one way to skin this cat.
Here are a few great ways to wear a denim shirt that will have people looking twice.
With a V-neck T-shirt
What I like about wearing it with a V-neck is the flexibility the shirt gives you. You can wear it buttoned and tucked to give your outfit depth, or open, so the shirt functions more like a jacket.
With a sport coat
Pairing a denim shirt with a sport coat or blazer is a refreshing way to wake up a timeworn look. Though I’d prefer a different color jacket for contrast, you could get away with a navy blazer in this arrangement too. Bonus points if you work in the pocket square.
With a Henley
Nothing takes the comfortable feel of a denim shirt to 100 more than layering a nice Henley underneath it. Similar to a V-neck, a Henley gives you options for how you wear your shirt, including with sleeves rolled up.
With a cardigan
Mixing a cardigan with a denim shirt is like blending Folk and Rock & Roll. And similar to the likes of Dylan and Buffalo Springfield, the mix can yield impressive and memorable results. Bonus points if you’re daring enough to don a sport coat on top of it all for those chilly, not yet summer, nights.
As mentioned above, my favorite way to rock this shirt is by itself (to be clear, that includes pants). There’s something rakish about the feeling of a denim shirt, opened up to the third button. The chill you get when the metal buttons brush your skin reminds you of the statement you’re making. Paired with some sunglasses it’s about as cool as it gets.
Denim is so ubiquitous now jeans are being worn to the office every day, and are supplied by some excellent purveyors of the fabric. Incorporate new ways of getting your fix by rocking a versatile denim shirt.