Q And Answer: The Chamois Shirt

September 9, 2010

Q and Answer: The Chamois Shirt

Kyle asks: How can you make a chamois shirt work in your fall wardrobe?

It’s easy!  Just wear it!

If you don’t already know, chamois shirts aren’t actually made from the same materially as the chamois you might use to buff your car – soft suede.  Instead, they’re made of thick, soft flannel which has a suede-like finish.  It’s a classic product of mildly outdoorsy classic clothing outfitters like say Lands’ End.

It took me a while to find my favorite chamois shirt.  I’d been looking for a year or two when I stumbled upon it.  It’s an LL Bean, probably ten or fifteen years old but looking pretty good.  I almost didn’t try it on, because it’s a medium, and I’m 6’3" and a bit over 200 pounds.  I haven’t worn a medium since I was 12.  Luckily, Bean’s sizing is so generous that it fits comfortably.  It’s burgundy, which is a very easy to wear color, and flatters my complexion.  I paid $12 for it, as I recall, which is a lot for a shirt at the thrift store, but I’m glad I did.

It’s perfect as a light, casual cover up.  I find that it gets me comfortably through an evening dog walk here in Southern California – temperatures in the 60s or so.  Do wear it on top of another shirt, like a light jacket, not as a base layer, unless it’s really, really cold out and your confident in your ability to pull off the “Beefy Mainer” look.  As a shirt, it can make you look heavy; as a jacket, it’s almost slimming.  I wear it over an oxford-cloth button down with jeans or khakis.