As is the case with certain items of clothing such as the sweatshirt and denim jeans, the worker jacket’s roots lie firmly in the functional. Originally created for those with manual jobs the likes of labourers, factory workers and farmers, worker jackets (also known as chore coats or utility jackets) took years of abuse before they became a menswear staple.
Designed with a multitude of pockets and usually made out of durable fabrics like cotton drill or moleskin, the chore coat is an ideal layering piece and a staple in any transitional wardrobe. It works just as well on its own as it does worn under a heavier piece of outerwear. In warmer months, wear it over a T-shirt as a summer jacket.
What is a worker jacket?
A worker jacket is defined by its shape and pockets. It’s traditionally cut with a boxy fit (to allow its wearers ease of movement while operating machinery), and comes with three exterior patch pockets for storing tools and the like.
Worker jackets tend to have a slightly longer length than regular shirts, finishing below the waistline, and are made from hard-wearing fabrics befitting of their heritage. First worn by railway labourers and engineers in France in the late 1800s, chore coats are known as bleu de travail in their native land, thanks to the bright blue colour they were dyed in there.
As such, you can find plenty of blue French worker jackets on the vintage market, but many contemporary brands have reinterpreted the style in their own shades, cuts and finishes. The worker jacket is one of the most popular styles of outerwear today, and for good reason.
Best worker jackets
Percival does workwear with a twist, often injecting its own personality and charm into staple pieces. The brand’s chore jacket has been given a spin, with a slightly slimmer fit than usual and unique slanted pockets in place of the traditional patch pockets.
Far Afield keeps things classic with its take on the worker jacket. Crafted from mid-weight, 100% organic cotton, it's ideal for year-round wear as an overshirt or jacket, teamed with selvedge denim jeans and boots for a workwear-inspired look. The easy-to-wear brown colour enhances its versatility.
Native North isn’t shy when it comes to putting its touch on tried and tested designs, but it's kept things simple with this khaki utility jacket. Made from a herringbone cotton, with a boxy fit and three large external patch pockets, it’s about as classic as it gets. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Ideal as a layering piece, Flax London’s heavyweight Railway jacket is designed to be as versatile as possible – wear it over a T-shirt, a jumper, or under a heavier jacket for added warmth. Made in London from 15oz linen, its unstructured cut and hand-finished detailing ensure it’ll be a staple piece in your wardrobe for decades to come.
Made in Portugal, ISTO’s chore coat is cut from heavyweight 380gsm cotton, and does away with the chest pocket for a more minimal, structured take on the classic style. In this subtle shade of green it’s surprisingly versatile, and will pair well with jeans, penny loafers and a striped T-shirt.
Made in England from 100% cotton twill, SIRPLUS' navy chore jacket makes for the perfect summer jacket, but is just as ideal as an extra layer under your coat in winter. The classic cut and versatile navy colour mean you'll reach for it time and again.
If any brand excels at workwear, it's Carhartt. Epitomising its expertise, the brand's iconic Detroit Jacket in water resistant canvas is as sturdy as they come. The plain black colour lends it ultimate versatility while a corduroy collar and striped lining add a touch of character.
The classic field jacket gets a contemporary makeover, in the form of this unique asymmetrical style jacket from Garbstore. Crafted from pure wool, it's perfect for winter. The roomy pockets are ideal for digging your hands into when they get chilly.
Drawing inspiration from the iconic style of renowned painter David Hockney, this corduroy shirt-jacket from Oliver Spencer makes for an instant autumn wardrobe staple that will stand the test of time. Team it with navy chinos and leather sneakers for an effortless weekend look.
Shon Mott are experts at the art of minimalist menswear. Their take on the worker's jacket is classic yet contemporary, destined to become a year-round wardrobe staple. Wear it with everything from jeans and sneakers to tailored trousers and loafers.
A contemporary workwear aesthetic underpins Wax London's premium menswear offering, and the label's classic overshirt jacket, named in honour of jazz legend Chet Baker, is no different. It's sustainably made from partly recycled cotton twill with eco-friendly Corozo nut buttons, so you can feel good about your purchase.
For more on men's workwear, check out our guide to the best overshirts for men.