Once regarded as the mere preserve of manual workers, the chore jacket has evolved over the years to garner a reputation as a fully fledged menswear staple. And it's not hard to see why. With its sturdy construction, pared-back aesthetic and high comfort value, it strikes the ultimate smart-casual balance and is ideal for teaming with just about any outfit. Eager to find the chore jacket of your dreams? Read our guide to men's chore jackets for everything you need to know about this fail-safe wardrobe saviour, including its history, how to wear it and the best men's chore jackets to buy in 2021.

A brief history of chore jackets

The origins of the chore jacket can be traced back to late 19th century France, when it was first developed as a utilitarian garment for railway labourers and engineers. Known as the 'bleu de travail' which translates to 'blue work', its purpose was purely practical, designed to endure the demands of physical labour.

The first chore jackets were traditionally made from hardwearing materials like cotton drill or moleskin – often dyed indigo or dark blue – with a simple collar, button-down front, cuffed sleeves and two or three patch pockets to store any tools required for the job at hand. A loose, slightly boxy fit was chosen for ease of movement and layering potential.

Fast forward to the present day and the chore jacket is more popular than ever, having evolved from its workwear roots to earn a well-deserved place in the mainstream style sphere. Available in all manner of materials, colours and cuts, it's a wardrobe essential that you simply can't go wrong with. Which brings us to...

How to wear a chore jacket

As we've touched upon, the beauty of the chore jacket is its inherent versatility. This is a garment that can be easily dressed up or down, making it the perfect go-to for those tricky occasions that call for smart-casual attire. Lean into its workwear roots and team it with a pair of selvedge denim jeans and chunky boots, or take it up a notch with a button-up shirt and tailored trousers. For a more laidback streetwear-inspired look, throw a chore jacket on over your favourite hoodie and team with sweatpants (the luxe kind, not that threadbare pair from your high school sporting days) and leather sneakers.

The best men's chore jackets to buy in 2021

Drake's Japanese Linen Five-Pocket Chore Jacket

Meticulously crafted from a lightweight yet durable Japanese linen, this chore jacket from renowned London-based menswear maestros Drake's will inject just the right amount of elegance into your summer wardrobe. Choose from four bold statement-making hues – Forest Green, Bright Pink, Tangerine and Powder Blue.

Oliver Spencer Kingsley Cord Buffalo Jacket

Drawing inspiration from the iconic American trucker jacket, Oliver Spencer's take on the chore jacket gives off serious old-school workwear vibes. Team it with indigo jeans and a sturdy pair of boots for an effortless transeasonal look.

Unrecorded Dusty Blue Worker Jacket

With its dusty blue hue and classic cut, Unrecorded's signature worker jacket pays homage to the original bleu de travail. Unlike the originals however, this version is crafted from planet-friendly organic cotton, with corozo buttons made from tagua nuts.

Flax London Pistachio Railway Jacket

Flax London is renowned for its masterful use of linen, which is showcased by this beautifully crafted heavyweight Irish linen chore jacket. It's sturdy but designed to soften with every wear, developing a look and feel that's unique to you. Wear it buttoned up as a shirt in winter and unbuttoned over a tee in the warmer months.

Wax London Whiting Overshirt

Wax London's chore jackets are among its bestsellers, with the Whiting Overshirt having proven particularly popular. Made from 100% recycled cotton from a sustainable French mill, it's available in an array of colours and patterns. Our pick for summer is this ecru and pale blue combination.

Closed Two Pocket Jacket

This 100% cotton chore jacket from German denim label Closed offers a contemporary twist on the classic. Its buttoned chest pockets and two-way zipper will inject your outfit with just the right amount of character.

ISTO. Work Jacket

Cut from a premium heavyweight organic cotton fabric that's softened for extra comfort and a lived-in look, ISTO.'s Work Jacket is guaranteed to be a year-round go-to. Team it with cargo trousers and high top trainers for an effortless workwear-inspired look.

ASKET Overshirt

With its combination of military grade organic cotton fabric and careful tailoring, ASKET's sturdy overshirt is a wardrobe staple that you'll rely on for years to come. We love the fact that ASKET is fully transparent about its production, revealing the full breakdown of costs and the impact of its manufacturing on the environment.

SIRPLUS Beige Cotton Chore Jacket

Made from 100% British organic cotton, SIRPLUS' version of the classic chore jacket is a surefire summer staple that's lightweight yet sturdy. Wear it with a linen shirt and lightweight chinos for an elegant take on warm weather dressing.

Now, get the full low-down on overshirts.

Shop all men's chore jackets at OPUMO.