As is the case with certain items of clothing such as the classic sweatshirt and trusty 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 roughing up 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.

It's a durable, versatile piece of clothing that works with a range of personal styles, so whether you're into your workwear or prefer a more minimalist take on dressing, it could be for you.

Best worker jackets

Percival

Percival does workwear with a twist, often injecting its own personality and charm into staple pieces. The brand’s classic chore jacket has been updated in a spring-ready ecru colour, with slanted pockets in place of the traditional patch pockets. 

Unrecorded

Unrecorded has kept things classic with its take on the worker jacket. Crafted from heavy cotton twill and cut for a straight fit, 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 classic dusty blue colour pays tribute to the classic French bleu de travail work jackets.

Native North

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 utility jacket. Made from a lightweight blend of cotton and nylon, with a boxy fit and three large external patch pockets, it’s guaranteed to become a failsafe staple.

Flax London

Ideal as a layering piece, Flax London’s mid-weight 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 canvas linen, its unstructured cut and hand-finished detailing ensure it’ll be a staple piece in your wardrobe for decades to come.  

ISTO.

Made in Portugal, ISTO.’s work coat is cut from heavyweight 380gsm cotton, and does away with the chest pocket for a more minimalist, structured take on the classic style. In this subtle shade of khaki, it’s utterly versatile, and will pair perfectly with jeans, penny loafers and a striped T-shirt

SIRPLUS

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.

Carhartt

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.

Oliver Spencer

Drawing inspiration from the iconic style of renowned painter David Hockney, this linen shirt-jacket from Oliver Spencer makes for an instant spring and summer staple that will stand the test of time. Team it with lightweight trousers and leather sneakers for an effortless weekend look.

Shon Mott

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. We're particular fans of the oversized pockets, which are as stylish as they are practical.

Wax London

A contemporary workwear aesthetic underpins Wax London's premium menswear offering, and the label's classic Zappa jacket is no different. It's sturdy and hard-wearing, crafted from heavy duty British waxed cotton twill with an inverted pleat in the back for comfort and extra movement.

Form&Thread

British menswear label Form&Thread is renowned for its season-less staples that are designed to look as great now as in a decade. Case in point: this versatile graphite utility overshirt that doubles as a lightweight jacket. Crafted in Portugal from super soft mid-weight cotton, it's as sturdy as it is stylish.

For more men's workwear, check out our guide to the best overshirts for men.