The Evolution of Women’s Workwear

Journal/Stories/The Evolution of Women’s Workwear

The Evolution of Women’s Workwear

The story of women's workwear is a fascinating journey. Decade by decade, its evolution has mirrored the fight for gender equality and the breaking down of barriers. In this article, we’ll look at the way women’s workwear has changed in every era. We’ll also explore the Dickies clothing defining women’s workwear today.

01-Early 20th century

02-The 1910s-1920s

03-The 1930s-1940s

04-The 1950s-1960s

05-The 1970s-1980s

06-The 1990s-present

07-Dickies Women’s Workwear

08-Women’s workwear for every job


Early 20th century

In the 1900s, women's workwear was straightforward. Many women were employed in factories, farms or as domestic workers. Their clothes were typically made from durable fabrics like cotton and wool, with long skirts and blouses being common.

Comfort and practicality weren’t yet widely prioritised. Rather, women’s work clothing was designed to be modest yet hard-wearing.


The 1910s-1920s

With the First World War came a turning point in women's workwear. With men away at war, women stepped into roles they had never filled before. That meant their clothing had to change, and fast. Skirts became shorter for safety, and women began wearing trousers for the first time – a radical shift.

This era also saw clothing for working women become far more practical. From women's workwear trousers to jackets, better mobility and comfort became a priority.


The 1930s-1940s

During the interwar period and the Second World War, women's roles in the workforce continued to grow and change. That meant the need for a far wider range of workwear.

The 1940s, in particular, gave rise to an iconic women's workwear look: Rosie the Riveter's bandana and denim ensemble. Trousers and jackets became staples for factory jobs, signaling a permanent shift in what women routinely wore to work.


The 1950s-1960s

In the 1950s there was a shift back to traditional gender roles. However, it was not enough to completely reverse the progress made in women's workwear. Indeed, the 1950s saw the rise of women in professional settings and a new type of clothing: women's smart casual workwear.

Workwear for women in this era included skirts and dresses that were more form-fitting. Clothing was made from newer, more comfortable fabrics like polyester and nylon thanks to advancements in textile production.


The 1970s-1980s

The 1970s and 1980s saw major progress in women's rights. The jobs women routinely held also began to expand, with women filling positions from executives to engineers. As a result, the 70s and 80s were a period that demanded far more choices in workwear – everything from traditional office wear to uniforms for new roles in fields previously dominated by men.

Women's smart casual workwear also became more popular. The introduction of the pantsuit stood out in particular as a symbol of professionalism and equality.


The 1990s-present

Most recently, women’s workwear has become more and more about personalisation and comfort. Business casual dress codes have allowed women to express their individuality and today, women's workwear is incredibly diverse.

From tailored women's workwear trousers to stylish jackets to smart casual outfits that can transition from office to evening, there is a huge variety. Fabrics are also more varied than ever, focusing on comfort and performance.


Dickies Women’s Workwear

At Dickies, we believe great workwear is for everyone. Our design approach is all about garments that can be worn by all. Simplicity, iconic styles, classic aesthetics and unisex appeal are part of every item we make. So you can choose what you feel best in on the job.

When it comes to women’s workwear, we’re especially well known for our relaxed and loose-fit pieces. The mid-waist fit of many items such as trousers and jeans adds to the pieces’ overall comfort – while still offering a stylish fit.

In fact, workwear has evolved from simply being clothes for the workplace into far more everyday lifestyle and fashion choices. In more recent years classic Dickies pieces have become key elements of workwear-inspired fashion.

Carpenter styles

Our carpenter style is all about versatility and durability. Equipped with pockets and loops for tools, yet cut to flatter, it’s the perfect choice if you’re looking for comfort and functionality in one.

Hardworking denim

Similarly, Dickies' denim range of women’s workwear is all about durable clothing that keeps going as long as you do. Thick, quality denim and stylish cuts bring the best of both worlds to these classic pieces.

In short, whether it's for the job site, the workshop, or a casual office setting, Dickies women's workwear trousers, jackets, and denim are designed to meet the demands of any day’s work.

Empowering working women

Dickies is also proud to support Smart Works, a UK charity dedicated to empowering women entering the workforce. Our donations to the Smart Works pop-up shop, open for the whole month of March, celebrate International Women’s Day and every woman’s right to work with confidence.


Women’s workwear for every job

The evolution of women's workwear is not just a story about changing fashion. It's a tale of social progress, the breakdown of gender barriers and women’s changing roles in society.

From the practical, protective clothing of the early 20th century to the stylish and versatile options available today, women's workwear reflects the strides towards equality in the workplace and beyond.

At Dickies, we pride ourselves on creating durable, stylish women’s workwear. So whether you’re looking for smart-casual workwear, jackets, trousers or dungarees & overalls, discover more content in our Journal, or check out our new arrivals.

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