Guide to the Workwear Trend

Dickies’ Guide to the Workwear Trend

PRODUCTS| 01.02.2022

Workwear has proved to be an enduring trend over the last 30 odd years in one form or the other. Why? Because function will always be fashionable.

If you've come this far, you probably want to know a bit more about the trend! Don't get worked up about workwear. Read on for our guide, which covers our deep history in workwear, key turning points of the trend and how to nail the workwear look for yourself.

What is the workwear trend?

The workwear trend is rooted in utility. Garments are carefully designed to provide function over style. If you work a trade like carpentry or construction, your safety and comfort at work are paramount. 

The irony is that workwear has bled over into the world of fashion to become a desirable aesthetic. It is comfortable and practical, ready for a hard day's work (or play).

What do we know about workwear and the workwear trend?

You'd be better off asking us what we don't know! We've been at it for a century!

When we started out, it wasn't to become ingrained in the worlds of fashion and style. We just wanted to make hardwearing and functional garments for the workers of the 1920s. 

Our first ever product was a bib overall, a stalwart of contemporary workwear style with a rich history. Our Bib overall is still one of our best sellers to this day. 

From bibs, we expanded our offering in line with the changing needs of the worker. The 20th century gave birth to a number of our popular workwear icons like our famous 874 Work Pants and Eisenhower jacket

It's fair to say that the 874 exceeded our expectations, I mean, we knew it was a great pant, but we didn't realize quite how much of an impact it would have. The trouser was originally made for America's workforce, designed to be smart, comfortable and durable whilst standing up to the strains of working life. 

Over the last 50 years, the 874 has become synonymous with the workwear trend, appropriated by taste and culture drivers like skaters, punks, rappers, and celebrities.

It's a similar story with our iconic Eisenhower jacket. Named after General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the jacket was designed to give workers a versatile and chic look. Fast forward a few decades, and it's the epitome of understated cool.

Unsurprisingly as the workwear trend has grown, so has the fashion industries interest in it. We've had numerous brands like Sussy, OBEY and Wacko Maria tapping us up, each of them wanting an authentic workwear brand to collaborate with. 

Who would've thought that our work uniform would be appropriated in a manner that's not uniform at all but quite the opposite, a personal expression of creative freedom! 

Turning points of the workwear trend 

It's hard to imagine how workwear has transcended its blue-collar beginnings to become the enduring trend that it is today.

The first key turning point came in the 80s, Latin American's in Southern California adopted elements of workwear as a defining fit. Think baggy white t-shirts and Double Knee Work shorts, worn with pulled up white socks.  

Towards the end of the 80s and early 90s, the skate community got on board with workwear, driven by the likes of Julian Stranger and the Anti-Hero skate team. Our 874 pants were precisely what the skaters of the time were looking for: affordable, baggy and hardwearing. 

It would be remiss not to stress how vital 90s hip-hop was for driving the trend. It acted as a catalyst to push workwear to the masses, helped by the rise of MTV. Tupac was a significant influence. He often wore a customized pair of Dickies' Denim Bib Overalls, embroidered with his famous slogan "THUG LIFE".

Fashion is cyclical. The current yearning for the 90s aesthetic has in part reignited the workwear trend as it was such a definitive look during the period. 

High fashion is infamous for its appropriation of subcultures, taking inspiration from skate culture, hip-hop and workwear. It's no surprise then that we've seen workwear featuring heavily on the runway in recent years.

Think Balenciaga's Reversible Logo-Print Parka, which, without wanting to do it a disservice, looks like a high-vis safety jacket. Similarly, Heron Preston has a strong uniform influence, like in his collaboration with The New York City Department of Sanitation. 

Kayne West's interpretation of the 2019 Met Gala's camp theme was a massive moment for the workwear trend. His look consisted of an all-black workwear ensemble featuring our Einshower jacket. Kanye's outfit became one of the most talked-about moments of the event despite being the most conservative. 

Kanye's not the only celebrity style icon to embrace Dickies and the workwear trend. The list is endless and includes the likes of David Beckham, ASAP Rocky, Sophie Turner, Justin Bieber and Daniel Day-Lewis.

How to nail the workwear look 

When weighing up how to pull off the workwear aesthetic, an excellent place to start is looking at your potential outfit and asking yourself, is it functional? Does it serve a purpose? If it doesn't and is purely aesthetic, it's out, I'm afraid!



At its core roots, workwear is a uniform. Take inspiration from that by creating a matching top and bottom look. A great example of a strong men's workwear outfit is pairing our Eisenhower Jacket with our 874 work pants. Or, for a women's workwear fit, try our Kiester Jacket with our Elizaville Work Pants, always in matching colors for a neat and functional fit.


Relax your fit 

Leave the tight or skinny cut pieces in the wardrobe. They have no place here! You want a more practical, relaxed fit that won't impede movement. Our Double Knee Work Pants provide a loose fit and straight leg. 


Practical detailing 

Look for the finer workwear details in your products that serve a purpose. I'm talking about additional storage pockets, reinforced seams, stretch fabric, stain release or wrinkle resistance. Again our Double Knee Work Pants are a great example of this. They include multiuse side pockets, stain release, wrinkle resistance and have extra material at the knee, which provides protection for those that kneel whilst working. 


Color palette 

Keep your colours muted and avoid color clashes. Khaki, olive, navy, black and red are all on the cards. For the adventurous, the odd bit of neon safety orange or yellow also has a place if you want to mix it up and go for a more modern performance workwear aesthetic.



When it comes to accessorizing, think practical, the beanie is the ideal way to round off your look and keeps your head warm on a cold day. Take our Woodworth Beanie. Available is a selection of muted colors.

Key Products

Duck Canvas Chore Coat - Our Duck Canvas Chore Coat is an essential Dickies overcoat. This durable jacket is made from hard-wearing duck canvas to last.

Lined Eisenhower Jacket - Our iconic lined zip-up jacket. It’s water-resistant with adjustable tabs on the waistband to secure the fit.

Kiester Jacket - The Kiester jacket is an authentic Dickies women's style. A cropped fit zippered jacket crafted from a durable polycotton blend, it has a comfy quilted lining and adjustable buttons on the waistband.

Duck Canvas Vest - The Duck Canvas Vest is a classic workwear gilet. Stay warm on cooler days with a soft sherpa lining and ribbed collar. Made from durable duck canvas, this hardwearing zippered jacket is built to last.

Elizaville Work Pant - Clean-cut women's trousers that feature a classic straight leg and mid-waist for a simple, smart aesthetic.

Double Knee Work Pant - A loose fit and straight leg with extra material at the knee area, perfect for those who frequently kneel for work. 

874 Work Pant - Our original fit, straight leg work pant that sits at the waist.  


The workwear trend has a long and rich history and doesn't look like it's going anywhere anytime soon, which is handy because workwear products are built to last. Embracing it will keep you smart, comfortable and ready for a hard days graft.


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