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Why workwear looks good on any man

Why workwear looks good on any man

Workwear is one of those style categories that lives up to its name: it’s as hardworking as it gets, and you don’t have to be shrouded in sawdust to pull it off. It has become a staple for the everyman thanks to its cool, flattering shapes and styles, and is something of an off-duty uniform for celebrities including Ryan Reynolds and Daniel Day-Lewis. Originally favoured by mid-century workers, workwear pieces can easily be incorporated into different looks if you don’t want to go all out. 

Utility brands like Carhartt and Dickies have paved the way, catering to the style conscious with their ranges of workwear jackets, trousers, and shirts. “The modern take on workwear is about balancing traditional items with a more contemporary edge,” says stylist Luke McDonald. “You want to pick the classic styles, but remember that you live in 2020 and aren’t an extra on Peaky Blinders – however much you might want to be.”

But even as it’s become its own style statement, workwear hasn’t lost its functionality and practicality, making it a versatile choice for everyday wear. “Workwear clothing tends to come in flattering cuts that suit most body shapes and are great for easy layering without looking too bulky,” Luke says. “It’s something of an antidote to tailored items, which need to be perfectly cut.”Here are the foundational workwear essentials you should have in your day-to-day wardrobe.

Outerwear

Field and utility jackets are an outerwear essential, and the structured shape lends itself to slightly smarter dressing. Cord and denim jackets, on the other hand, are timeless casual favourites that are an effortless nod to the workwear trend. 

“The heavier fabrics of workwear are harder wearing, which is key to the look. Pieces that feel flimsy or lightweight doesn’t have the same effect so it’s always worth investing in quality,” Luke says.

Tops

A check shirt is a classic workwear piece that has become integrated into mainstream dressing. The versatility of check shirts mean they’re a timeless favourite that can be worn open as an overshirt, done up and worn alone, or layered under knitwear for a more formal take. 

“If patterns aren’t your thing, a chambray or thin cord shirt add a point of interest that’s easy to pull off and livens up a casual t-shirt and jeans,” Luke says.

Trousers

Originally a staple for 19th-century gold miners, jeans and denim are now universal workwear since being picked up by heartthrobs like James Dean in the 50s. They might not feel like an obviously trend-aligned item, but if you opt for selvedge pieces – which are often better quality and harder-wearing than regular jeans – you’ll have the workwear look on point. 

Shoes

Workwear is a very specific look to wear head to toe all the time, so keep it subtle. If you want to incorporate workwear-style boots, Timberlands and Red Wing are classics. Hiking-style leather lace-ups can bring a more refined finish without going for fully smart brogue boots.


Words: Ella White
Photography: Lola & Pani
Styling: Luke McDonald