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Style Advice

The essential workwear staples for autumn

The essential workwear staples for autumn

There’s a quiet revolution going on in menswear. We’ve already reported on the near extinction of the office suit in favour of ‘smart casual’ dress codes, and now it’s gone a step further. Utility clothing – a category of items originally designed for what a plumber or mechanic might wear on duty – is fast becoming the new uniform of the city-dwelling man too. And this can largely be chalked up to a culture shift in how we work, where flexibility and thus comfortable, practical clothing is an acceptable alternative to traditional formal attire. Or it could just be that we’ve all taken our lockdown DIY hobby a bit too far and now we need a wardrobe to match.

Whatever the reason may be, this new utilitarian way of dressing is here to stay, and that’s good news for more reasons than one. It’s functional, it can feel smart and casual all at once, and it’s easy to style – when you have our style experts on hand, that is. Here, they show us how to assemble key pieces of this look firmly into your wardrobe (without a spanner or screwdriver in sight).

Key piece: cotton trousers

“Hard-wearing cotton trousers with a relaxed cut make this aesthetic appropriate for day-to-day dressing, without looking like you’re going to work on the railroads in the 1930s,” says stylist Toby Standing.


How to style them 

“Take cues from the modern interpretations of this look you might see in downtown New York, East London coffee shops, or even skateparks, and pair them with laidback styles like a sweatshirt and chore jacket. Finish with gum-sole trainers to further nod to its hard-working quality.

Key piece: chore jacket

“A blue chore jacket is a must for nailing this look,” Toby says. Originally designed to endure the tough conditions of rail work and farming in the late 19th century, this trusty jacket encapsulates the authentic utilitarian appeal of this trend.

How to style it

“This look [pictured] nods to modern Japanese influences, giving the chore jacket a neater, more dressy feel.

Strike the perfect balance of smart and casual by mixing it with dress-down heavy hitters like selvedge denim – another golden child of this aesthetic. A simple palette (basically two colours) is also key – pairing different shades of blue together is a classic workwear move. You don’t have to get lost in a sea of indigo either, as more and more brands are embracing all kinds of denim washes.”

Key piece: hard-wearing boots 

“Sturdy boots – the kind you could imagine yourself hiking to your log cabin in – nod to the ‘lumberjack chic’ side of the workwear aesthetic. Plus, these Red Wing boots, or a similar pair, will likely last you longer than any other shoe, so they’re a key investment for now, and forever.”

How to style them 

“Lean into the lumberjack vibe of this look by teaming your boots with hardy fabrics like flannel or twill, and classic patterns such as checks. Layering them together will add more dimension to the look – try a flannel overshirt over a henley top and finish with a gilet.”

Words: Ashlie Brombley
Photography: Jack Batchelor
Styling: Millie Rich
Styling assistant: Toby Standing