What is a work jacket called?

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Written By Dominic Howard

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A work jacket, also known as a chore coat or utility jacket, is a versatile type of jacket worn for manual labor, workwear, and casual everyday use. Work jackets are commonly made of durable fabrics like cotton, canvas, denim, or twill and feature multiple large pockets for carrying tools and other work-related items.

What is a Work Jacket Called?

Work jackets emerged in the late 1800s as functional outdoor gear for tradesmen, farmers, and laborers. Early work jackets were made of hardy materials like denim, canvas, and twill, with shirt-style collars and multiple large pockets for carrying tools.

Throughout the 20th century, work jackets evolved distinct American and European styles. The archetypal American chore coat often features zip or snap front and side adjustment tabs. European versions have more tailored details like notched collars and flap pockets.

The Origins and History of Work Jackets

Work jackets emerged in the late 1800s as functional garments for laborers, farmers, ranchers, and tradesmen who needed rugged, protective outerwear that allowed freedom of movement. One of the earliest examples of a work jacket was the chore coat issued to the French military in the 1870s. This loose-fitting cotton jacket had a shirt-style collar, patch pockets, and metal button closures.

In the early 20th century, work jackets evolved distinct American and European styles. The American work jacket exemplified by the denim chore coat was simplified with a snap or zip front closure. European work jackets retained a more tailored look with notched collars, shaped waistlines, and flap pockets.

Workwear brands like Carhartt, Dickies, and Filson helped popularize chore coats and jackets in the 1920s-1940s among working-class men. During the 1950s, work jackets were adopted by Greasers and rockabilly subcultures as a symbol of rebellion and blue-collar pride. The 1970s brought a workwear renaissance thanks to vintage clothing trends. Iconic chore coats were introduced by companies like L.L. Bean and Gap.

Today work jackets are still valued for their practicality while also serving as a versatile fashion staple. Contemporary designers put modern spins on classic workwear silhouettes and fabrics while retaining the core functionality of original chore coats.

Key Features and Attributes

  • Durable, thick fabrics – Cotton, denim, corduroy, canvas, and twill are commonly used. These rugged often brushed or broken-in fabrics can withstand workwear demands and frequent laundering.
  • Multiple large pockets – Most work jackets have at least two spacious breast pockets, two front hand pockets, and interior pockets for maximum utility. Some also have sleeve or back pockets.
  • Straight or slightly fitted cut – The looser fit allows for ease of movement and layering over other clothes. Contemporary fits add more shaping through the shoulders, chest, and waist.
  • Front closures – Zip or snap front closures enable easy on/off. Hidden placket closures add a streamlined look.
  • Collars – Pointed or rounded shirt-style collars are most common. Notched and stand collars provide a sleeker appearance.
  • Sleeves – Full-length or rolled-up sleeves allow versatility for warmer weather. Articulated elbows improve mobility.
  • Hems and cuffs – Adjustable waist hem tabs help modify fit and length. Ribbed collars, cuffs, and hems increase durability.
  • Reinforced stress points – Bars tacks, double stitching, and rivets at the pockets, placket, and other areas withstand repeated wear and strain.

Popular Work Jacket Styles

Chore Coat/Jacket

The quintessential work jacket, the chore coat is made of cotton, linen, or a light canvas like a duck. It usually has a shirt-style collar, multiple large flap pockets, and side adjustment tabs. Originating as military and factory worker attire, today’s chore coats have a slim, modern fit. Carhartt’s Traditional Chore Coat is a classic example.

Denim Jacket

Rugged denim jackets lined with insulation or sherpa are ideal for yard work, outdoor jobs, and farm work. Stiff heavyweight denim provides durability. The Levi’s Sherpa Lined Denim Jacket is a trendy wintertime work jacket.

Barn Coat

Inspired by traditional coats worn by farmers, stable hands, and equestrians, barn coats repel water and stains. They are longer in length with large front pockets and a split back vent for riding. The Barbour Ashby Barn Coat is a sophisticated barn coat crafted from waxed cotton.

Field Jacket

Originally designed for soldiers and hunters, field jackets are lightweight, wind-resistant, and outfitted with large cargo pockets. Military-style details like shoulder epaulets, drawcord waists, and camo prints are common. Filson’s Shelter Cloth Field Jacket offers versatility for work or everyday wear.

Work Shirt Jacket

These jacket/overshirt hybrids combine the ease of a shirt with the warmth and durability of a jacket. Flannel and chambray are popular fabrics that retain their casual work shirt look. With its buffalo check flannel fabric and cinched waist, the Patagonia Fjord Flannel Overshirt epitomizes this workwear style.

Packable Puffer

For workwear that can handle cold weather and easily stash into a bag or truck, choose a lightweight packable puffer jacket. Made with synthetic down insulation and outer shell fabrics like ripstop nylon, these compress down for compact storage. The Magellan Outdoors 100 Gram Packable Down Puffer is perfect for frigid worksites.

Work Vest

Channel utility vibes while keeping your core warm by layering with an insulated work vest. These sleeveless jackets have mesh back panels and pockets galore for holding small tools and supplies. The Carhartt Rugged Flex Insulated Vest offers maximum mobility and storage for workers and outdoorsmen.

Choosing the Right Work Jacket – Key Considerations

When selecting a work jacket, think about the following criteria:

  • Intended use – Construction, farming, landscaping, maintenance, and outdoor work each have specific demands. Prioritize durability, weather resistance, storage, and mobility.
  • Season – Colder months may call for insulated, fleece-lined, or hooded styles. Lighter jackets work for warmer weather.
  • Layering – Make sure there’s enough room to layer over a flannel, sweatshirt, or light jacket underneath.
  • Pockets – If you’ll be carrying items, look for deep secure pockets with closures. Inner pockets keep valuables safe.
  • Fabric – Denim, duck canvas, and twill resist abrasions, tears, and dirt on the job. Consider repellant treatments for moisture-wicking performance.
  • Comfort and fit – Seek a good range of motion through the shoulders, arms, and torso. Straight or athletic cuts suit most body types.
  • Care – Clean fabrics like cotton and canvas and launder well. Stains can be spot-treated. Some materials only require occasional spraying to refresh.

Popular Brands of Work Jackets


Founded in 1889, family-owned Carhartt is known for its durable, affordable workwear. Their chore coats, arctic and sandstone jackets, vests, parkas, and bibs equip workers to take on any job. Known for quality and longevity, most styles hold up for years of steady use.


Texas-based Dickies has designed quality workwear since 1922. Dickies’ Eisenhower jackets, fleece-lined and flannel-lined jackets, duck chore coats, and multi-season vests combine comfort, performance and value. Their enhanced fits allow a flexible range of motion.


Since 1897 Filson’s goal has been to craft indestructible outerwear for outdoor work and recreation. Filson uses rugged fabrics like oil-finished tin cloth along with smart utilitarian details in their Seattle fit cruiser jackets, hooded work vests, field coats, and lined jackets.

Duluth Trading Co.

Duluth Trading Co. features innovative workwear for tradespeople, DIYers, and homesteaders. Their chore coats, barn coats, insulated flannel jackets, and fire hose jackets seal out cold and wetness through unique features like armpit gussets and extra-long tails.


Patagonia produces outdoor workwear and chore coats with the environment in mind. They engineer recycled, organic, and responsibly sourced materials into durable, versatile designs engineered for mobility. Core styles include their Quandary pants, Torrentshell jacket, and Insulated Fjord Flannel.

Pointer Brand

Family-owned since 1913, Pointer manufactures its chore coats, jackets, overalls, and jeans in the USA. Their vintage-inspired silhouettes and fabrics celebrate the heritage of workwear using materials like brown duck, hickory stripe, and blue chambray.

They craft each piece with precision to pass it down for generations.

How to Style a Work Jacket

The best part about work jackets is their versatility from workday to weekend. Here are some ideas for casual outfit combinations:

For Work

  • Flannel, chambray, or oxford shirt + jeans or work pants + leather boots
  • Thermal or waffle henley + canvas work pants + work boots
  • T-shirt + insulated overalls or coveralls + beanie

Weekend Wear

  • Oversized sweater + leggings + slip-on sneakers or mules
  • Turtleneck + midi skirt + ankle boots or loafers
  • Maxi dress + denim jacket + white leather sneakers
  • Graphic tee + jeans + high top Converse

Date Night

  • Silky camisole + fitted trousers + strappy heels
  • Slip silk dress + heeled booties
  • Sequined or satin cami + leather mini skirt + block heel sandals

Elevated Office Looks

  • Silk blouse + cigarette pants + ballet flats
  • Sheath dress + blazer + kitten heels or oxfords
  • Cropped wide-leg trousers + button-up + smoking slippers

The Humble Work Jacket – From Workwear to Wardrobe Staple

The work jacket has cemented itself as a versatile wardrobe essential thanks to its durability, practicality, and style. This humble garment continues to work overtime both on and off the job site. With the right fabrics and modern tailored fits, today’s work jackets easily make the transition from weekday to weekend wear for any activity. While staying true to their functional roots through reinforced stress points and multiple pockets, contemporary versions allow you to work hard and look good doing it.

So whether you are a tradesperson who depends on their gear daily or simply appreciates well-made staples, the work jacket deserves a spot in your closet. Just add your favorite outfit items like tees, flannels, sweaters, and denim for a foolproof look with an infusion of classic workwear vibes.

Frequently Asked Question

1: What is a work jacket called?

People often refer to a work jacket by various names, depending on its specific design and purpose. Some common names include utility jackets, workwear jackets, chore coats, or simply work coats.

2: Is there a difference between a work jacket and a regular jacket?

Yes, there can be differences between a work jacket and a regular jacket. Typically, designers create work jackets for durability and functionality, intending them to withstand the rigors of various work environments. They often have features like reinforced stitching, extra pockets, and rugged materials, which may not be present in a regular fashion jacket.

3: What are some popular types of work jackets?

Popular types of work jackets include denim jackets, canvas chore coats, bomber jackets, parkas, and insulated jackets. Designers have created each type for specific work conditions, providing varying levels of protection and functionality.

4: Are work jackets only used for manual labor jobs?

Work jackets, although commonly associated with manual labor jobs, have a wide range of applications across various professions and activities. Outdoor enthusiasts, DIY enthusiasts, and individuals seeking a durable and functional outer layer also wear them.

5: Can work jackets be stylish as well as functional?

A5: Yes, many work jackets are designed to be both stylish and functional. Some brands and designers have incorporated fashion elements into workwear, making it suitable for everyday wear while retaining its practical features.

6: Are there specific work jacket styles for women?

Indeed, work jacket styles exist that cater specifically to women. Designers tailor these jackets to suit the female body shape, and they frequently offer a range of colors and designs to accommodate various preferences.

7: What are some well-known brands that make quality work jackets?

Several reputable brands are known for producing high-quality work jackets. Some of these include Carhartt, Dickies, Timberland PRO, Wrangler, and Filson, among others.

8: How do I choose the right work jacket for my needs?

To choose the right work jacket, consider factors such as the type of work you do, the climate you work in, the level of durability required, and any specific features you need, such as extra pockets or insulation. Trying on different styles and consulting product reviews can also be helpful.

9: Is it possible to customize work jackets with company logos or names?

Yes, many workwear companies offer customization options, allowing you to add your company’s logo or employee names to work jackets. This can help create a cohesive and professional look for your team.

10: Are work jackets suitable for cold weather?

Work jackets designed for cold weather conditions exist.. Look for insulated work jackets with features like thermal linings and wind-resistant materials to stay warm and comfortable in colder environments.


In conclusion, people can refer to a work jacket using various names, such as a utility jacket, workwear jacket, chore coat, or simply a work coat. Regardless of the name, designers have created these jackets to offer durability, functionality, and protection in a range of work environments. Whether you’re a manual laborer, outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a versatile and practical outer layer, there’s a work jacket suitable for your needs. With styles that blend fashion and function, work jackets have evolved to meet the demands of both work and everyday wear, making them a versatile addition to any wardrobe.

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