Etymology is interesting, especially when two seemingly unrelated and contrasting ideas come together. Consider the moniker Blue Collar. How did it work it’s way into our every day lexicon? As a term coined to describe a manual laborer, the idea that a simple fabric, Chambray, branded a hearty demographic makes it all the more interesting. Dating back to the 16th century, Chambray was first woven in the region of Cambrai, France, where it became a popular fabric among agricultural workers. It was the fabric of choice due it’s exceptional ability to breathe and it’s long life span in the field.
Weaving the fabric was rather simple too, a colored weft thread was used, while the warp is unanimously white. In the field worker’s case, the color was most often a darker blue, as it tended to not show the dirt as much. Soon, the blue chambray became the ad hoc uniform for the laborer as they eventually became known as “blue collar workers.”
The Chambray shirt has found it’s way into the wardrobe ever since. While it’s great in the field, it’s perfectly appropriate for the office too. Versions of French blues, pinks, violets and whites are frequently seen. It can be worn with a tie or with the collar open. However it’s worn, it’s always perfect for a hard days work.