Building a stylish wardrobe means outfitting your closet with timeless staples that outlast trends. Enter the denim shirt—a timeless classic that can be worn year round. Denim shirts are versatile and can be worn with jeans, leggings, even joggers depending on the occasion and desired look. Plus, denim is a quality fabric with a reputation for quality and comfort. “Denim shirts are versatile and can be worn almost every season, depending on the cut and fit,” style coach Leena Alsulaiman tells Byrdie. “You need to select the right design and fabric for the aesthetic you're aiming to achieve and keep in mind what will work best for your wardrobe.”
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Our best overall pick is the L.L. Bean Heritage Washed Denim Shirt, which is pre-washed for added comfort and tailored with a curved shirttail hem. For a more affordable pick, consider the Universal Thread Long Sleeve Classic Fit Button-Down Shirt, made from a cotton blend that includes spandex for added stretch. We love that this comes in plus sizes as well, providing a tailored look for curvy figures.
We conducted hours of research on the best denim shirts for women, consulting with two stylists to help inform our recommendations. After considering dozens of brands, evaluating each style on design aesthetic, quality, material, and fit, we landed on these selections. We also considered a range of sizes and body types when sourcing for our roundup.
Ahead, find the best denim shirts for women to wear year round.
Best Overall: L.L. Bean Heritage Washed Denim Shirt
This denim shirt provides a relaxed fit while offering comfort with its pre-washed construction. With a curved shirttail hem, this denim shirt can be worn tucked into a pair of pants or in full depending on the look. The button flap pockets can hold important cards while on the go and its cuffed sleeves can be rolled up for styling purposes whether layered or on its own.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XS - 3X
Best Budget: Universal Thread Long Sleeve Classic Fit Button-Down Shirt
Denim can be expensive, but this classic button down denim shirt stops right at $25. With a collared neckline and button up design, this denim shirt offers a preppy and polished look for everyday wear and even a trip to the office. The best part? Its cotton blend provides a bit of stretch for additional comfort and movement.
Material: 78% Cotton, 21% Lyocell, 1% Spandex | Size Range: XS-4X
Best Designer: Michael Kors Plus Size Off-Shoulder Denim Ruffle Top
Even designer brands like Michael Kors are in on the denim shirt trend. This off the shoulder top makes a fashion statement while also providing a flattering flowy fit. Style this ruffle top with a pair of white jeans and a statement necklace to add some personality to the look without going overboard.
Material: Cotton/lyocell | Size Range: 1X - 3X
Best on Amazon: Riders by Lee Indigo Denim Jacket
Amazon is a treasure trove for basic fashion selects, and the denim shirt is no exception. We love this classic top-rated and bestselling denim jacket; its stretchy polyester blend makes it form-fitting enough for it to work as a button up. The jacket features a button closure so it can be worn open or closed depending on preference. The hem hits at the hips, and the tailoring is pretty impeccable. Available in 10 colors from cherry red to aqua.
Material: 62% Cotton, 24% Polyester, 13% Rayon, 1% Spandex | Size Range: XS - XL
Best Cropped: Zara Cropped Denim Shirt
For the warmer weather, opt for a cropped denim shirt. With a front button closure, this denim crop top is ideal for those trips to the beach or Sunday brunches. This selection features a lapel collar and short sleeves which add a stylistic flare.
Material: 76% cotton · 24% linen | Size Range: XS - XXL
Best Short Sleeve: J.Crew Signature Fit Denim Shirt
Whether you want to show some skin or enjoy a breeze, snag a short sleeve denim shirt. The buttons at the cuffs can be used to roll up the sleeves and be taken down when a long sleeve shirt is desired. Additionally, find a front chest pocket which can hold credit cards or loose change while on the go.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XXS - 3X
Best Shacket: Good American Boyfriend Denim Button-Up Shirt
Can’t decide between a shirt and a jacket? There’s no need to with this versatile shacket. This oversized option features long sleeves, a pointed collar, and a button down closure. Undo the buttons for a fashion-forward yet laid-back look that’s ideal for layering. Also nice: the denim at Good American is made from recyclable materials for a more sustainable choice.
Material: 60% Sus Cotton 40% Tencel | Size Range: XS - 5X
Best Dress: Madewell Denim Puff Sleeve Mini Dress
A denim dress is an easy wardrobe staple that can be worn styled many ways. With puff sleeves, this denim option offers a princess-style silhouette for a more dressed up look. The seams contour every curve for a flattering fit and the square neckline accentuates the collarbone. There’s even pockets to help keep you organized.
Material: 100% cotton denim | Size Range: 00-14
Best for Summer: American Eagle Oversized Denim Button-Up Shirt
There’s no better time to wear oversized clothing than during the summer. Not only can they help beat the heat, but also are super comfortable. This button up denim shirt is the perfect loungewear and outerwear when styled accordingly. Wear it with a pair of sweats for a trip to the grocery store or a pair of jeans for a more formal denim on denim look.
Material: 100% Cotton | Size Range: XXS - XL
Best Size Range: Rebdolls Simply Put Denim Jacket
We love the size options available with this brand. Even better, the spandex and polyester blend is form-fitting for a tailored look and also moves with you for a comfortable fit. Chest and side pockets add function, while a button-up closure allows for versatility.
Material: 98% Cotton, 2% Spandex | Size Range: S - 5X
Best Classic: Levi's Essential Western Denim Shirt
If you need to add one denim shirt to your wardrobe, opt for this classic denim shirt from Levi’s. With pointed pockets and yolk detailing, this denim shirt is great for daily wear and can be dressed up or down depending on your look. While there isn’t much stretch to this shirt, it’s still comfortable with its flowy construction and curved shirttail hem.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XS - XXL
Best Sustainable: Warp + Weft ROM Denim Jacket
If sustainable practices are important to you, consider this label, which uses planet-friendly materials, energy saving technology, and minimal amounts of water when creating their garments. With a hem that stops right at the hip, this jacket can be worn with a favorite pair of jeans or leggings for a casual day look.
Material: 98.5% Cotton, 1.5% Elastane | Size Range: XS - XL
Best Puff Sleeve: Frame Puff Sleeve Denim Shirt
For a whimsical and retro look, opt for a denim shirt with puff sleeves. Not only do these add a hint of sophistication, but they also elevate any outfit. With its spread collar and elbow length sleeves, this denim shirt is a wardrobe must. Pros recommend styling it with a pair of dark washed jeans.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XS - XL
Best Sleeveless: J.Crew Factory Chambray Button Up Shirt
Ideal for warmer weather, this button-up is an elevated tank that can be worn on its own or layered. We love the quality stitching and lightweight chambray material that makes this pick an investment piece. Consider styling it with a tennis skirt and flats, or layering on top of a ribbed long-sleeve when the temperatures dip.
Material: Cotton | Size Range: XXS - 3X
Best Plus Size: Minibee Women's Casual Cotton Linen Blouse
We love this cotton-linen blend in denim blue for its tailored aesthetic.Created for curvier figures, this blouse has a flowy silhouette without being boxy or tent-like. Reviewers note the cotton-linen blend adds breathability and some sweat absorption, though it does wrinkle easily. Washing with softener can help manage some of the wrinkling, while adding softness to the linen blend.
Material: 45% cotton, 55% linen | Size Range: S - XXL
Meet the Expert
What to Look for in Denim Shirts
Full Button Closure
When shopping for the best denim shirt, make sure you find one that has a full button closure. This will provide the piece with more versatility and opportunities for styling. Whether you want to wear it open or closed, the full button closure will provide that flexibility. Additionally, Desiree Miranda, New York City-based stylist and personal shopper, recommends denim shirts with buttons at the cuffs. “Look for one with buttons or snaps at the cuffs, this way you can roll the sleeves up on warmer days and for more versatility in outfit options.”
You’ll also want to make sure your denim shirt is high-quality so it’ll last you a long time. “It's essential to check the seams to ensure that they don't come apart when you pull a bit,” Alsulaiman says. Especially if you plan to wear your denim shirt as you run daily errands or out on the town, you’ll want to make sure the seams are strong and durable. The last thing you want is for your shirt to undergo wear and tear after only a few uses.
To underscore the importance of high quality denim shirts, Miranda recommends choosing one that is 100% cotton if you can. “Cotton is more durable and will control moisture and insulate better than most synthetic fabrics.
How can you wear a denim shirt?
There are so many ways to wear a denim shirt whether it’s for an everyday look or a more sophisticated occasion. “My personal favorite is to pair a white tank tucked into your pants, or shorts and wear it open almost as a jacket which gives it a more casual feel,” Miranda says.
Miranda continues to share that the Canadian Tuxedo is back in style and with that comes a full denim on denim look. “You can wear your denim shirt tucked right into your favorite jeans, throw on a pair of western boots, some chunky jewelry and you’re styled and ready to go from day to night.”
How do you dress up a denim shirt?
Similar to most closet staples, a denim shirt can be dressed up with the right accessories and style choices. “To dress a denim shirt up, you will look at accessories and what you pair it with,” Alsulaiman says. “For example, if you pair it with pants, you will want them more tailored and fitted, and if you pair it with a skirt, look for a more elevated fabric, design, or color.”
Miranda suggests adding a belt for a more dressed-up look. “I love a brown leather belt with a chunky western style buckle. You could also do a thick white belt and pair back to white shoes to tie it all together.”
How do you soften a denim shirt?
The most tried and tested way to soften a denim shirt is to soak it in white vinegar. “White vinegar is a natural fabric softener that will help break down the fibers in the denim and make them softer,” Alsulaiman says. “You can soak the shirt in vinegar and water solution for about an hour, then wash it as usual.”
Aside from white vinegar, she adds that another way to soften a denim shirt is with fabric softener.
Don’t want to wash your new denish shirt just yet? “Try putting it in the dryer with a damp towel,” Alsulaiman says. “The towel will help to absorb some of the stiffness out of the fabric, and the heat will also help to soften the material.”
Put your shirt in the dryer on low heat for about 15 minutes, then check to see if it's as soft as you want it to be. If not, you can put it in for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Why Trust Byrdie
Casey Clark is a Byrdie contributor and has written about fashion for other publications like StyleCaster, Reviewed, and Buzzfeed. She aims to make industry knowledge more digestible and easier to understand for every reader. For this story, she considered dozens of denim shirts for women and consulted with two stylists before landing on her picks.
Jill Di Donato is Byrdie’s senior commerce editor. As a former fashion editor, her work has appeared in NYLON, the Los Angeles Times, HuffPost and more. She’s also taught classes on fashion as a lens for culture at Barnard College and the Fashion Institute of Technology.