Workwear’s New Meaning: Mens Style Guide

28 April 2021

The very essence of workwear is no longer what it used to be, as now there are a handful of brands that are making workwear-inspired clothing that can be worn in the office. Offering durability and functionality, it’s modern menswear at its finest and it’s here to stay.

The very nature of workwear clothing has changed significantly over the last few years. Once-upon-a-time, it was for proper work – the kind needed for laying down railway tracks and chopping down trees – and not the sort that affords you with the luxuries of an inner-city commute wearing Alden loafers. Now, workwear is office-wear, and we’re all for it.

At Trunk, we try not to conform to today’s fashions and instead preach the virtues of smart casual menswear. However, when clothes that are so deeply-rooted in history – and in many ways are the foundations of our society – become fashionable it’s hard to ignore. Workwear garments are designed and made with integrity; they’re purposefully durable, hardwearing and offer utility. Furthermore, they’re the type of garments that help one keep up with the demands of today’s multifaceted lifestyle.

With that said, we’ve produced a trio of ‘modern workwear’ looks using the versatile merits of three casual jackets. We feel that they will give you all the necessary tools to complete a day’s work with no requirement of getting your hands dirty – at least not literally.

Hailing from Milan, Doppiaa is one of the most exciting and refreshing contemporary brands out there, with each garment being impressively designed and made in Italy with the modern man in mind. Its Aasti Cotton Linen Chore Jacket in Navy (there’s also a version in tan), is in many ways the finest example of this shift in menswear dress codes, as it’s most certainly office-appropriate despite its laborious roots that stretch back to the late 19th century. Chore jackets were originally worn by French railway workers – colloquially known as ‘bleu de travail’, which translates as work blues – and were and made from an indigo-dyed cotton canvas. They were cheap to weave and manufacture, and were reliable and incredibly durable.

Doppiaa’s homage to this classic is made using a deep navy cotton/linen blend canvas. It’s clean with a slim fit, and the conservative tone gives it a sense of formality akin to a navy blazer, especially when paired with Finamore’s white Gaeta Classic Cotton Leonardo Button Down Sport Shirt and Barena’s navy Bragola Parbon Drawstring Trousers. Finished with a pen and pair of Ayame sunglasses tucked away in the breast pocket, it’s a look that says I’m comfortable and I mean business.

For some tailored action, the Italian label Manifattura Ceccarelli has a couple of workwear-inspired, single-breasted sports jackets this season that offer the best of both worlds. What gives these workwear details include a high break on the narrow lapels, closed quarters and a single vent on the back. Then, there are the patch pockets and unique fabric that’s a slubby cotton/linen blend. While those give the jacket a casual demeanour, it’s still a piece of tailoring – modern and refreshing, but still with traditional connotations that can be worn when running around town.

Worn with a pair of Resolute 710 Denim Jeans, which have a slightly tapered fit, and a richly-toned A Kind of Guise Brahma Band Collar Shirt, both of which stem from workwear clothing, it’s an all-rounder look that has formal and rugged elements that’s in keeping with the modern wardrobe of today.

The final look of this demonstration of workwear‘s new look uses De Bonne Facture’s Wool Linen Painters Shirt in a Taupe Check. As the name suggests, the style takes its name from painter’s clothes. However, this style of overshirt was originally worn by Cuban farmers back in the early 20th century. They required loose-fitting linen shirts and a camp-collar to keep them cool in the heat, plus pockets to keep their tools in place. Short sleeve versions later became fashionable in post-war America for leisure, before later becoming a staple of the art scene to store priceless paintbrushes.

DBF’s take on the style is cut from a wool and linen blend fabric, which is of course great for the warmer months, with a charming windowpane check that makes it act like a sports jacket. The three pockets give it purpose while the fit allows you to wear a more formal shirt beneath, such as our own Seymour Chambray Shirt in Light Blue. The look is finished with our Duke Corduroy Trousers in Olive, and Sealup Parachute Raincoat in Tan.

We imagine that many of our readers and customers would have had their go-to work clothing stored away for some months now. While those pieces of tailoring still have a purpose, and of course can be worn in many interesting and casual ways, it’s worth bearing in mind that the parameters have changed. When worn correctly, those traditional working clothes can be just as sleek and formal, whilst at the same time being able to better assist the lifestyle that you now lead, whether that’s at home, in the office, or travelling between.

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