The power of the denim shirt has to be in its supreme flexibility. Can you wear them during the week and over the weekend? Yes. With other jeans? Sure. With chinos? You bet. You can even dress one up with a blazer, cardigan and maybe a tie. Sure, there may be a few dos and don’ts, but the part to remember is that the option is always on the table.
All you have to do is find the right one for your style – which is where our guide comes in. From slim fit to oversized, long sleeves to short and black to light blue, we’ll cover the most prominent style choices you have to make. We’ll then share our top picks for denim dress shirts, Western shirts, work shirts and more from the best brands in the business such as Levi’s, Nudie Jeans and Lyle & Scott.
While many denim shirts can be very similar, we’ve tried to put together a buying guide that offers practical and style-based advice. Hopefully, this information will make you feel more comfortable buying and wearing your new garment, ensuring that you get value for money and possibly a boost of confidence!
The first factor you need to think about is the colour wash. While we’re all for the Canadian tuxedo (a denim shirt or jacket paired with jeans of the same wash), it isn't a look everyone wants to rock, so you’ll want to think about how you’re going to combine your top and bottom pieces.
There are two ways to do this – either opt for a lighter upper if you want to wear darker jeans and vice versa for lighter pairs. Got plenty of trouser options and don't want to buy two different shirts? Opt for a medium wash, as this will be both darker than light and lighter than dark, giving your garment more versatility.
Of course, you could also go for a brighter colour like green or a classic neutral such as grey or black if you feel more at home working with these. That being said, the traditional denim blue is certainly a large part of a shirt's appeal, as it gives it that working, everyman sort of vibe.
Once you’ve decided on the type of wash you wish to go for, it’s time to consider the fit, which is something a lot of us overlook. Thankfully, when it comes to denim shirts, there isn’t too much to think about – they're usually either regular or oversized.
The regular fit can be slimmer but is designed to fall straight, rather than getting narrower the closer it gets to the waistline. This fit is a safe bet for almost every bloke as it works well with a range of different body shapes, and you won't have to do too much styling. This is also the most versatile and can work for casual or smart-casual occasions.
Or, for a relaxed look that's infinitely more casual than proper, consider an oversized shirt. If you’re looking to purchase something that won’t be worn to any evening events and, instead, want something that keeps you comfy and can work as a layer, oversized denim could be just the thing.
Another factor that determines the versatility and formality of a denim shirt is its sleeve length. Longer-sleeved shirts do tend to be more of an all-rounder as they work for various dress codes and events, as well as during more weather conditions. Plus, if you do get warm, you can always roll your sleeves up or unbutton them a bit.
If you already have a long-sleeved denim shirt or you have a specific look in mind, why not try out short sleeves? While these aren't as common and are generally better suited to holidays and brief British summers, the laid-back connotations of denim mixed with their sharper look can be a winning smart-casual combo. Or, layer over a classic white t-shirt and leave it open.
While on your search, you may have noticed that whatever their cut and sleeve length, most denim shirts come with at least one breast pocket. But, aside from being handy for storing sunglasses, keys or pens, they also influence the style of the shirt.
For instance, a single breast pocket makes the piece look more like a regular, everyday shirt, whereas two breast pockets deliver more of a workwear vibe, or if they're shaped a certain way, a Western edge.
Usually, if a denim shirt doesn't have any pockets, it's because you’re opting for a brand that has chosen to put its logo in place of it. This will diminish the traditional style somewhat, but can instead result in a cleaner, more minimalist look.
Now that you’ve had the chance to think about the differences in the colour washes, fits and more, let’s get to the fun stuff – the shopping. In our ranking, we have ten top-quality options from some of the best denim brands on the planet.
Lyle & Scott
Hebbe Denim Shirt
Jackson Denim Worker Shirt
Organic Cotton Denim Overshirt
Short Sleeved Denim Shirt
90s Oversized Organic Denim Shirt
Western Denim Shirt
Oversized Short Sleeve Shirt
A Cut Above the Rest for the Modern Man
Based on Workwear, but Comfier
Hilfiger Denim Showing Their Street Side
Vintage Style With a Modern Edge
The Ultimate Throw-On Appeal
Striped Denim to Keep It Fresh
An Affordable Multi-Season Staple in Black
Classic Western Meets Contemporary Wash
A Minimalist and Modern Take
A Laid-Back Blend of Two Unusual Denim Looks
|Wash||Medium blue||Dark blue||Light blue||Dark blue||Medium blue||Light (striped)||Dark grey||Medium grey||Medium blue||Light blue|
Looking for something warmer, cooler, smarter or more casual? Whatever your style and whatever the season, we've got plenty more shirt recommendations for year-round wear in the articles below. You don't even have to leave your laptop to buy them!
We hope after you've finished reading this, you've found a denim shirt that's caught your eye. Remember to find a piece that's constructed from a comfortable, robust fabric and to experiment with different fits to change your style up. By keeping all that in mind, you'll be rocking the denim in no time!
Author: Lewis Clark
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