While its primary purpose is to offer protection and comfort to the people wearing it, recently, workwear has recently received an additional one. The new purpose – being a staple of street style wardrobes. Strangely enough, the attire of carpenters, fishermen, construction workers and plumbers has somehow transitioned from being only worn out of necessity to being a personal choice.
Just pay attention, and you’ll start noticing street style enthusiasts wearing everything related to the traditional blue-collar look from DHL hats to Carhartt clothing, Dr Martens boots and Wrangler jeans. Seeing an opportunity, Carhartt even created a line that offers a more fashionable twist on the blue-collar look, and as such is a firm favourite of street-style aficionados. In fact, Carhartt and many other workwear brands have become so popular that you don’t need to look for a workwear business as they are now readily available at most retail stores dedicated to street style. But how did that happen?
In someway, wearing work clothes for fashion purposes totally makes sense. After all, compared to fast fashion’s throwaway pieces, work clothes are specifically designed for quality, comfort and durability. They are often made of sturdy fabrics such as denim, corduroy, flannel, linen and waxed cotton which do not shine or draw attention to themselves but instead have a more serious character.
Workwear also has an oversized fit that allows for breathability, freedom of movement and overall comfort. This makes it perfect for when you’re riding your bike to work, or taking the bus. So, while standard casual fashion may be dominated by skinny jeans, street style outfits should ideally incorporate jeans and overalls with a more relaxed cut.
In addition, Wrangler, Dickies and Carhartt clothing ranges include pieces in mostly neutral colours such as khaki, sand, brown, dark green, navy blue, grey, black and white. As a result, these pieces are incredibly easy to style and can be matched with other street-style staples which are much bolder, such as bulky, colourful sneakers, neon caps, statement badges and more.
Another great aspect of the blue-collar style is the fact that it doesn’t easily date. Functional pieces such as Dr Martens boots have been popular fashion statements since the 1990s. And the favourite fabric of street-style enthusiasts, denim, was created when American tailor Jacob W. Davis was asked to design trousers that can sustain the harshest conditions, thus starting the company that would eventually become Levi’s.
While all of this may explain the popularity of workwear, another reason why people are so drawn to it may be the fact that it tickles our nostalgia. Through workwear, the increasingly desk-bound population can get a tiny taste of a time where people valued hard physical labour and had simpler and slower, although perhaps more fulfilling lives.