My New Favorite Shirt is One I’ve Had for 7 Years · Primer – Jarastyle Teen’s

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And makes for the perfect spring layer.

When it comes to building your personal style, there’s one secret I’ve leaned into over the years: invest in pieces that stand the test of time. And for me, there’s no better illustration of this than my worn and faded denim western shirt.

“A denim shirt? That’s your big style lesson?” I hear you, it’s certainly not a daily wear or even a basic. But, this shirt has had a continuous ebb and flow in my wardrobe for seven years, and it’s taught me more about personal style than any trendy piece ever could.

andrew wearing a denim shirtandrew wearing a denim shirt

The denim western shirt has a rich history in American culture, with roots that run deep in both workwear and fashion. From its early days as a practical garment for cowboys and ranch hands, to its iconic appearances in film, this shirt has become a symbol of rugged individualism and effortless cool. Whether it’s old school actors like Steve McQueen or any contemporary character that needs a rugged edge like Pedro Pascal’s Joel in The Last of Us, the denim shirt has endured decades of trend transition. Heck, even elderly men look great in the western shirt.

A denim shirt draped over a car door

A denim shirt draped over a car door

When I first bought this shirt from Gap on sale for $30 back in 2017, I had no idea how much wear I’d get out of it. I wore it slowly, at first, afraid it may be too costume-y for frequent use. The perfect mix of rugged and refined, but memorable. But as time went on, I found the denim shirt to be really easy to wear, with its substantial drape, light blue hue that pairs well with many pants colors and top layers, and the unique decorative elements like pearl snaps and triangular chest pockets that add a casual, retro touch, contrasting the shirt style from the typical button-ups I had.

andrew wearing a denim shirt in 2016 and nowandrew wearing a denim shirt in 2016 and nowThen (2017) and now

But as time passed and my style evolved, I found myself reaching for it less and less. It wasn’t a conscious decision – just a natural shifting of my tastes. It still got worn, just not often. That is, until recently.

Over the past year, I’ve rediscovered my love for this denim western shirt. I’ve worn it more in the last six months than I have in the previous two years combined. But here’s the kicker: I’m utilizing it in a different way than before.

Instead of buttoning it up like I usually did, I’ve been wearing it open, like a lightweight shirt jacket. It’s the perfect layer for those warm weather shoulder seasons, when a coat is too much, but a summer shirt isn’t enough. And the best part? It adds an effortless edge to any outfit, whether I’m dressing up or keeping it casual.

denim shirt with shorts

denim shirt with shortsThe denim shirt is the perfect warm weather light layer. Seen here from my 2021 video, “Melted Ice Cream.”

The denim western shirt is a true chameleon, adapting to different styles and eras. It’s as much a nod to the rugged cowboys of the Old West as it is to the laid-back, bohemian vibe of the 1970s. Or the action heroes of the last decade. This versatility is what has made it such an enduring and essential piece in my closet.

denim shirt with dress pants outfitdenim shirt with dress pants outfit

The combination of the denim shirt worn open and a well-worn tee creates a look that’s equal parts retro, southwestern, and modern rakish. It’s a style that feels particularly at home here in Southern California, where the laid-back vibe and unpredictable weather make lightweight layering this time of year a must.

Just like your favorite pair of jeans, a denim western shirt only gets better with age. The wear and fading add character and tell a story, making the shirt feel like a true extension of your personal style. And if you do happen to wear some holes in it, don’t be afraid to patch it up and keep on rocking it – those repairs will only add to its rugged charm.

And the best part? You don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on one. While there are certainly premium options out there from brands like Todd Snyder, Taylor Stitch, and Flint & Tinder, you can also find great denim shirts with virtually the same design from more affordable, everyday brands like Levis, or Amazon Essentials.

That’s the beauty of this iconic garment – it’s accessible to everyone, regardless of budget or fashion expertise. It’s a true everyman’s shirt, a piece that can be dressed up or down, worn by anyone from a ranch hand to a city slicker.

This is the lesson I’ve learned from my own aging denim western shirt from Gap: when you invest in well-constructed, enduring pieces that you truly love wearing, you’re not just buying clothes. You’re building a wardrobe that will grow with you, adapting to your changing tastes and needs over time.

two photos of a man wearing the same gray tshirt and charcoal jeans, one with a denim western shirt and the other with a suede trucker jackettwo photos of a man wearing the same gray tshirt and charcoal jeans, one with a denim western shirt and the other with a suede trucker jacketThe denim shirt makes for a great warmer weather jacket alternative: The same base but worn with the denim shirt and my olive suede trucker jacket in my High/Low piece.

So, if you’re looking to build a wardrobe that lasts, start with the classics. Look for pieces that feel authentic to your personal style, pieces that you can imagine wearing in a variety of ways over the years. And don’t be afraid to spend a little more on quality if you know you’re going to get a lot of use out of it.

Here’s to those budget-friendly finds that last, and to the unexpected style heroes that teach us valuable lessons along the way. May we all find our own version of the perfect denim western shirt – and wear it into the ground for years to come.


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