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The Complete Guide To The Workwear Trend

CEO Tinh Phung
In the realm of men's fashion, the enduring clothes are those that offer more than just style - they offer functionality. This is why workwear has become a timeless trend. Originally designed for carpenters, dockhands,...

In the realm of men's fashion, the enduring clothes are those that offer more than just style - they offer functionality. This is why workwear has become a timeless trend. Originally designed for carpenters, dockhands, fishermen, and laborers, workwear is comfortable, layered, and perfect for the autumn season. What sets workwear apart is that it was never designed for a particular era or movement, making it relevant in today's fashion landscape.

According to Chris Gove, founder and creative director of British menswear brand Percival, "The appeal of workwear is that it doesn't date... the purpose and appeal of workwear remains relevant, transcending trends." Workwear items like Red Wing boots, Dickies trousers, and Barbour jackets have been fashion statements since the late 1990s. Fast-fashion brands have also caught on, offering capsule collections of blue-collar staples such as chore jackets and selvedge denim jeans.

Carhartt's Work in Progress line takes workwear to a more fashionable level and is favored by fashion industry insiders. The nostalgia and romanticism associated with workwear, which represents a simpler time of craftsmanship and a slower pace of living, make it even more relevant today.

Workwear offers desk-bound men a taste of the romanticism of semi-skilled labor without getting their hands dirty. The surface textures of workwear, like heavy cotton drill, thick wool, deep indigo denim, butter-soft flannel, chambray, slub linen, and waxed cotton, are predominantly matte. These fabrics exude a quiet handsomeness that ages beautifully with use and wear. The lack of gloss and "newness" sets workwear apart from the luxury emporiums and the shiny world of the internet.

The New Rules Of Workwear

Relax When It Comes To Fit

One of the appeals of workwear is its functionality. Even if you're not using it for manual labor, it simply works. The key to achieving the workwear look is a loose and easy fit. Robust workwear trousers, such as carpenter's pants or raw denim jeans, should ideally be worn in a relaxed cut. Enzo Cilenti, a designer for British workwear brand Carrier, advises, "Just make sure what you're wearing is fit for purpose... make sure it's practical."

the best relaxed fit trousers for men The best relaxed fit trousers for men

Mix It Up

Unless you're a dockhand or lumberjack, it's best to avoid going all out with the workwear look from head to toe. Chris Gove suggests pairing workwear with cleaner, tailored pieces to avoid looking like a caricature. The contrast between a lived-in piece of vintage workwear and something sharp and polished creates a modern and stylish look. For example, a washed denim or blue chambray shirt looks fantastic when paired with a tailored jacket or blazer. On the other hand, the right pair of jeans can provide a solid foundation for a more suited look.

zara Zara

Toughen Your Accessories Up

To fully embrace workwear's ruggedly masculine aesthetic, clever accessorizing is key. Fisherman beanies may be considered hipster, but they are practical and will keep you warm. A solid pair of work boots not only adds to the overall look but also ensures your feet stay dry. Commuters, regardless of their occupation, should consider outdoor brands for day-to-day bags that can withstand bad weather and the trials of public transport while keeping personal belongings safe.

gap Gap

Use Colour (Carefully)

Workwear often favors neutral shades such as navy, khaki, sand, green, and brown. While tonal looks work well with these colors, workwear's thicker and boxier cuts can benefit from pops of color. Chris Gove recommends using bright colors to break up the workwear palette. For example, pairing a red fisherman jumper with a blue chore jacket and deep indigo jeans creates a distinctive and stylish look without going overboard. Workwear thrives on cool understatement.

house of fraser House of Fraser

Key Workwear Pieces

Flannel Overshirt

The red and black check flannel overshirt is the most recognizable workwear piece. It was a favorite among woodsmen and jazz modernists alike. Pair it with raw denim jeans or cotton khaki pants. To soften the look, steer clear of work boots and opt for brown or burgundy loafers or chukka boots instead.

matalan Matalan

Cargo Trousers

Cargo trousers made a surprising comeback in recent seasons. Made from robust cotton, these loose-fitting trousers can be hemmed up slightly and worn with classic sneakers for a laid-back all-American look.

how to wear workwear How to wear workwear

Chore Jacket

The chore jacket, worn by legendary New York Times street style photographer Bill Cunningham, is a tough menswear staple. Its slightly boxy cut and large front pockets allow it to bridge the gap between formal and dressed-down. Layer it under a wool coat in winter or over a T-shirt or sweatshirt in summer for a solid smart-casual piece that can be worn year-round.

brooks brothers Brooks Brothers

Work Boots

Work boots are the ideal choice for the winter months. Rain and snow won't do your loafers or white sneakers any favors, so lace up a sturdy pair of work boots to keep you on solid footing. These boots pair well with work pants or raw denim jeans and a thick heavy coat. For a more polished look, consider wearing slightly more refined work boots with a suit, saving your Derbies for another day.

j.crew J.Crew

Padded Gilet

The padded gilet, despite spending some time out of the fashion spotlight, has made a comeback. It's a favorite among Italian men, even though workwear is not usually associated with Italy. Overseas, it's commonly used as a layering piece under a tailored coat or jacket. Alternatively, it can be worn on its own over a cable knit jumper or flannel shirt for an added layer of insulation.

faconnable Faconnable

Denim Shirts

Denim is a fabric with real workwear pedigree. The indigo material has been favored by blue-collar workers, US ranchers, and railroad workers since the 1800s because of its tough construction and durability. Pair a denim shirt with chinos and chukka boots for a classic look. If you're feeling more daring, embrace the double denim look, but make sure to choose contrasting shades to avoid looking like you're wearing a pair of men's overalls.

selected homme Selected Homme


Beanies are an essential part of the workwear uniform, especially during the winter months. These woollen head warmers keep you protected and comfortable during a day of manual labor. Explore different styles, from simple cuffed beanies to smaller fisherman-style beanies for a workman-at-sea vibe.

the best workwear accessories for men The best workwear accessories for men

Workwear is more than just a trend; it's a practical and stylish way to incorporate functionality into your wardrobe. Whether you're opting for relaxed fits, mixing workwear pieces with tailored items, toughening up your accessories, or adding pops of color, you'll be sure to create a distinctive and fashionable look. Explore the key workwear pieces mentioned above to curate your own workwear-inspired outfits.