How to Wear: The Denim Shirt.
The denim shirt is a classic, staple piece that every girl and guy should own in their wardrobe, but how do we keep it chic without looking like we’re going to some tacky, denim-on-denim rodeo? Fourth-year economics major, Michelle “Melles” Tran, shows MUSE how she rocks a denim top for the spring season for a clean and simple, yet finished and sophisticated look.
First off, ask yourself where you’re going. A denim top is appropriate for both a fun night out with friends and for a professional environment like the office depending on how you coordinate your outfit that day.
For the guys, pairing your denim or chambray top with a clean pair of fitted chinos rolled at the hem and desert boots or boat shoes is an easy way to create a fashion-forward, yet relaxed and comfortable look. Feeling dressy? Throw on a blazer, and yes, you are allowed to do that; however, your blazer MUST have texture. If you have any sort of glossy sheen-like quality to the jacket, it is way too awkward and formal to pair with a denim material. If you’re aiming for an edgier, streetwear-inspired look, pair your denim button-up with a black leather biker jacket or combat boots or even ripped denim jeans for the bottom, just as long as they’re of different washes. You can go lighter on the top and opt for a darker wash on the bottom, but NEVER wear the same wash for both or you’ll be looking like you came straight from the 90s, and not in the good way.
Now for the girls, you have OPTIONS! For spring, think outside of the box and pair a denim shirt of a lighter wash with, for example, white lace shorts or a long flowy pastel maxi dress. Crop tops were a huge trend on the spring/summer 2014 runway, so if you’re feeling bold, pair a denim shirt with a black crop top and maxi skirt or floral leggings or Boho harem pants. If you’re going for a more polished and sophisticated look, match your denim shirt with a fitted blazer, slacks and heels and you’re good to go. Some of my favorite trends this season were the structured pastel separates in the Alexander Wang for Balenciaga collection and the accordion-pleated maxi skirt with metallic detailing in the Proenza Schouler ready-to-wear runway show. Obviously, most of us can’t afford these pieces, but I can already see these trends trickling down to stores like ZARA, H&M, and Forever 21 for a more affordable price that work just as well with a denim shirt than an unimaginative white V-neck or khaki pant.
James’ Notes: Personally, I suggest investing in a high-quality denim shirt as it is, in fact, a classic and will never grow out of style as long as you live. Get creative with your outfits and try different ways in incorporating other trends of the season into your wardrobe and pairing them with your denim shirt and see what you can come up with. Casual or formal, relaxed or polished — the possibilities are endless. Cheers!
Interview with Michelle “Melles” Tran:
1. If you could describe your personal style in three words, what would they be?
Layers, androgynous, practical.
2. Who or what is your style icon?
I get inspired by blogs that involve anything with menswear, sneaker culture, streetwear, workwear, queer fashion or androgynous looking people in the fashion industry. I grew up being really interested into sneakers which lead me to streetwear and photography. Since I’m graduating soon, I look into how I could dress business casual and business professional that would suit me.
To name a few, I get inspired by urban, men’s lifestyle fashion bloggers, like Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs, the faces of Street Etiquette, for their thrift store and tailored looks, their usage of ethnic prints, and their ability to combine menswear, streetwear and sneaker culture into their blog. Asian womyn fashion directors Janie Cai, Esther Quek and Jeeyong Kang are womyn who incorporate menswear suits and styles and tailor them to their body with a feminine touch. Often times, they use bright colors and accessorize with matching earrings and bags.
I find myself on Tumblr a lot, relating to queer and/or androgynous looking womyn with their styles as far as hair and how they dress everyday.
3. What are your three must-have items in your wardrobe?
Button-ups, shoes, and chinos.
Button-ups are my go-to. I love dressing in layers and I like to mix and match my button-ups. They’re also versatile because they are pieces you can wear all year-round and depending on the print/material they can be worn for various occasions.
I think shoes make or break an outfit. Two of my favorite everyday shoes are my Nike Multi Flyknit Trainers and my Allen Edmonds McAllisters. My Flyknit Trainers are bright so they pop out amongst my darker tones in my outfit and they are also really lightweight and comfortable. My McAllisters are dress shoes that I bought off Ebay and I love the quality of Allen Edmond’s leather. I appreciate how I can wear them casually but also in business attire.
Chinos are really versatile and once you find the perfect fitting pair, you just get addicted. I find myself really attached to Uniqlo’s chinos and have pairs in various colors to wear casually and in professional settings.
4. What is your favorite accessory and why?
I’m not much into accessories. The only accessories I wear everyday are watches. I enjoy Casio’s retro looking watches. I am currently sporting a Casio Calculator watch and I like how it’s very practical and looks vintage. Yes, I’ll calculate tax, tips, and sales for you. I did my Nutrition 10 midterm using my watch once since I left my calculator at home.
5. Where do you love to shop and why?
I’m a frugal shopper. I try to find deals online from the FrugalMaleFashion, a sub Reddit. There are really cheap online deals that this community discovers and shares. Everytime I’m in my hometown, San Jose, I do a whole day of visiting thrift shops near my area. I also recently discovered the Alameda Antique Fair where it’s similar to a Flea Market but with more unique, vintage and higher quality items. I love the thrill of the search and finding something that I not only appreciate the texture, quality, print and cut of but also the fact that it’s in my size. I’d like to think thrifting and deal hunting is like digging for treasure.
6. What is your most treasured item in your wardrobe?
Speaking about treasures, some of my most expensive and rarest items are my sneakers. My all-time “grails” are my Jordan Royal 1s and my Jordan Black Cement 3s. Jordans get retroed and released every handful of years. These two are the 2001 release and are rare and sought out for now because of it’s quality, age and details. Something I appreciate about sneakers is that you may have the money to buy something, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find it and in your size. As a female sneakerhead, it is difficult to find particular sneakers due to my small shoe size; however, it’s all that much more rewarding when you find your grails in your size and for a price you would want to pay for.
7. How has your style changed since high school?
My style has definitely matured and refined since high school. I was always a bargain shopper but now I’m more aware of quality basics and brand names whenever I thrift. I still incorporate sneakers into my everyday wear but my taste on sneakers has changed for example. Back then I wore bulkier shoes such as Nike Dunk SB, part of Nike’s skateboard sneaker and clothing line. Today, I wear slimming and lighter sneakers like the Nike Roshe or the Nike Janoski.
8. What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is a way of representing my hobbies, gender expression and daily life.
9. What items would you recommend our readers to incorporate into their wardrobes for the upcoming spring season?
I’m trying to find myself a pair of leather sandals for spring. That’s what’s up.
10. What final tips can you give to our fashion-forward readers?
Be aware of your body and know yourself.