While workwear is great for tough jobs, it can be cumbersome in everyday situations. Most shirts and jackets provide little insulation and are made of stiff, uncomfortable fabrics. Plus, the baggy cuts don’t fit in anywhere save the job site. But that’s changing. Now companies are making workwear infused with the latest tech to keep you comfortable, warm, and looking sharp.
1620 Workwear Stretch NYCO Shirt Jacket ($198)
Best For: Layering
Think of this shacket as a bombproof shell: you wear it like a shield to protect the layers underneath from getting worked by the elements. The designers at 1620 Workwear used a thick 14-ounce cut of the brand’s signature Stretch NYCO fabric and blended it with burly Cordura. The company claims the combination is ten times more abrasion resistant than cotton—and I believe them. It withstood flames, bike grease, water from leaky pipes, and a barrage of wood splinters. And while it isn’t fully waterproof, it still sheds liquids and resists staining, thanks to the DWR finish.
Carhartt Rugged Flex Rigby Shirt Jac ($70)
Best For: Unrestricted movement
Often the thick fabrics in workwear don’t stretch well—a hindrance if the task you’re doing requires a bunch of pulling and reaching. And breathable they are not. Enter Carhartt’s fleece-lined Flex Rigby shirt. It’s made of a stretchy cotton-spandex blend that kept me warm and loose while splitting wood. It also vented heat surprisingly well when worn over a thin base layer. After a long Saturday of chores, I didn’t take it off when it was time to relax.
Hill City Sherpa Lined Workwear Jacket ($168)
Best For: Doing it all
For the times when I needed a warm, durable layer to throw on at a moment’s notice, this was the one I picked. The wax-coated outer shell and PrimaLoft insulation is a winning pair. And much like the compartments on an apron, the top-entry zippered pockets made it easy to stow and grab tools at my belly without worrying about them falling out the sides.
Best Made Co. Down CPO Overshirt ($328)
Best For: Blending function and style
When I wanted a cleaner look, I threw on the CPO overshirt. It has serious warmth (packed with 850-fill goose down) and the chops to handle dirty jobs (the outer is a cotton-poly blend with a DWR finish) yet is tailored with modern style, like sleek cuff-to-elbow patches. It performed just as well out gathering firewood as it did on chilly walks around town.