There are certain iconic items that every man should have in his wardrobe: A perfect white T-shirt, crisp khaki trousers, an awesome pair of boots, and white canvas sneakers are at the top of the list. The reason they are archetypal is that each is available in a world of variations so any guy can bend them to his own personal style. Is the T-shirt billowy or long-sleeved? Do the khakis have pleats or patches? Cowboy, desert, or work boots? Classic Chucks or Vans? The same goes for another must-have item, the denim shirt. From reliably masculine Western styles to workwear-inspired silhouettes and limited-edition designer versions, the denim shirt inspires a certain cocky confidence in just about anybody who wears one. Here are just a few of our favorites to round out your wardrobe for 2022.
- The Ultimate OG Denim Shirt: Polo Ralph Lauren
- The Authentic Denim Shirt: Wrangler Cowboy Cut
- The Retro Futurist Denim Shirt: Diesel D-Milly-SP
- The Happy Hippy: Mai-Tai Dye Cord Long-Sleeve Woven Shirt
- The Green Denim Shirt: Goodlife Overdyed Denim Snap Shirt
- The Tan Denim Shirt: Hudson Long Sleeve Denim Shirt
- The Ombre Denim Shirt: Ksubi Snakebite Regular Fit Dip Dye Denim Button-Up Shirt
Classic, meet classic. The man that made the all-American design even more all-American, Ralph Lauren, combines the prep world with the Western frontier in this faded denim button-down. It’s non-stretch denim, with a button-down collar and the signature Polo pony embroidered logo. Get it a size larger and layer over white crewneck T-shirts with khakis and loafers.
Whether you’re actually riding down to inspect the back forty or just want to look like you are, grab this denim shirt from Wrangler, a brand that real cowboys wear. The yoked shoulder and snap closures give true Western detailing, while the stonewashed denim softens up the look for everyday. Pair it with trim black jeans and work boots for a look that doesn’t holler “yippee ki-yay.”
To see the future, we go to the past. This Diesel shirt presents a hard-edged version of the classic that’s more 1984 than 2001. The stone-washed denim and matte snap closures still give a nod to workwear, but its clean lines and asymmetrical chest pocket detailing lend an air of minimalism that seems more apropos to a desk job than a factory position. Pair this with a pair of minimalistic black trousers with a bit of sheen.
We’re pushing the envelope here: Made from corduroy, this shirt isn’t technically one of our best denim shirts, but we like the effect of the indigo tie-dye so much that we think it merits an honorary inclusion. The relaxed silhouette, cotton fabric, top-stitched details, and metal buttons make for a shirt that will make you feel good any time you wear it. A great pair of trim-fit shorts are great with these, or stick with classic denim jeans.
If you’re more of a colorful personality, there’s no reason that denim has to be limited to indigo or black. Here, Goodlife presents a relaxed shirt with subtle details in a season-spanning sage hue for a fresh take on the classic style. Diagonal flap pockets and snap closures stay true to the shirt’s Western roots. It’ll look great with dark denim, but we’d love to see this shirt paired with ivory or white wide-wale corduroys.
A solid denim shirt can also be a great stand-in for a jacket when layered over a T-shirt or tank top on those first cool autumn days. We like this tan version from Hudson in a sandy Gold Dust color that looks like it stepped out of a sepia-toned photograph from the old West. The soft-washed cotton denim will be great on its own, too, as the mercury drops further. Throw it on over a simple graphic T-shirt with rust or red-toned trousers.
Ksubi elevates the denim shirt to a fashion statement with a dip-dyed finish, covered placket, and graphic detailing on the shirt’s tail. The silhouette maintains workwear roots, while the dye techniques create an artistic statement. Keep it simple with black or gray stone-washed jeans or crisp white denim.
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