Denim shirt – how to find the right one?

Posted by Atte Rytkönen on 11.3.2015 in General

Are you looking for a versatile shirt to combine with your sport coats? Or something to wear under your suit on a casual Friday. If you are, a high-quality denim shirt is an option worth to consider.

Put This On recently published an inspiring article about denim shirts. After that I realized that I actually have almost as many denim shirts in my closet than I have usable white button-up shirts. That is a clear sign of my relationship with denim shirts. I do like them a lot. But what makes a denim shirt my favorite?

Denim shirt with blue suit
From last summer at Pitti Uomo – wearing monochrome blue look, featuring a dark blue denim shirt. Pic by Neil Watson for TSBmen.com

Denim shirt – a versatile option

One of the reasons I like denim shirts is the versatility. They are a good choice in case looking for an option to dress down a sport coat. Or even to wear with a bit more casual suit. Denim might not be the choice you first think when it comes to dress shirts. But it can still look really good when you combine it with the right sport or a suit jacket. And in comparison to some other a bit more casual fabric choices such as linen for example denim shirts are appropriate to wear year-around. Just remember that it’s not the choice you want to combine with a business suit for a board meeting. And I know that some people don’t in general like the idea wearing a denim shirt with a tie.

Blogger blue blazer with denim shirt
Denim shirt with cotton trousers

Combining is the key

I personally think it’s just a question what kind of tie you wear and how you combine the whole outfit. Plain denim shirts work well even in a bit more dressed up combinations when you have a jacket that features some kind of a texture and pattern.

And as seen in the pics below – a denim shirt is easy to dress up by just adding a sport coat and tie – after that you are ready to go for a dinner for example. On the other hand it can be worn just by on its own to create this kind of casual and chic summer look.

Denim shirt and white trousers
Massimo Dutti denim shirt

Garment washed denim shirts – smart casual choice

In general there are many different types of denim shirts – of course. But finding the right kind of look ain’t that easy.

One of most important things in terms of denim shirts is the way the fabric is washed and treated. To get the right kind of casual look – that can still be worn a dress shirt – the fabric need to go through a special enzyme wash. And when the enzyme washing is done after the shirts are sewn they will create a unique, authentic fading around the seams. This will also give the shirt a kind of personal “patina” as well as more relaxed & casual appearance.

As this kind of garment washing is not cheap and as it usually requires large volume most custom shirt makers are not  able to offer shirts with these washes and usually one can only find these as ready-to-wear options.

If you have a choice, go for soft and durable denim fabric. For example 60s two-ply denim is light enough to wear under a sport coat, but also heavy enough for casual wear. With this kind of fabrics the denim starts off raw, but will then be put through one or two washes.

Cotton suit with denim shirt and shantung tie