How the right sweatshirt can help you pull off the workwear look

PRODUCTS  | 14.01.2021

The workwear look is always cool, but really comes into itself from autumn through spring. It delivers no-nonsense functionality but with a silhouette that shows you’re not compromising style – those muted tones ensure you fit in through the working day, night out or weekend chill.

It’s not a complicated look, based around a simple sweatshirt and functional pants and footwear. You might not know when you’ve got it right or, more importantly, when something wouldn’t quite fulfil the brief. Workwear street style is about as Dickies as Dickies gets, so here are some pointers to staying clocked in.

What is the workwear look?

The workwear look is a street style based on blue-collar clothing. Garments are functional, smart, durable and comfortable but stand out because they’re pitched unlike any other mainstream fashion. It’s a look that’s popular among skaters, but it’s versatile enough to cross into various cultures.

So many of the items of clothing that we wear today, from jeans to jackets, can trace their roots back to a utilitarian past. We’ve already written about the many types of everyday coats and jackets that started out on the shop floor, and even the battlefield – have a read if you’re interested in how purely functional clothing can make the leap to casual dress.

The workwear look is an extension of that concept and is especially true for the subcultures that are active, like skaters. The same ruggedness and flexibility that makes workwear perfect for the factory and lumber yard also makes it ideal for pulling stunts and sliding along concrete floors.

The style can be achieved quite literally by looking at suppliers of workwear. But many of the items such manufacturers and vendors supply can be quite technical and over-engineered for general streetwear. For street fashion, you can’t go wrong with Dickies Life, offering an extensive range for both men and women. It’s smart casual without being generic – just what you need for your workwear wardrobe.


What isn’t the workwear look?

Fashion being fashion, you can interpret the look however you want, but when people refer to workwear style, they don’t tend to mean suits or steel toe boots. It’s a casual street look derived from manual labour, but shouldn’t be taken too literally.

Ideally, the workwear look treads the path between formal and informal. Most workwear, even factory or outdoor work, has a certain smartness to it, but it’s designed in hard-wearing fabrics with a comfortable fit.

The look is distinguished by its lack of fuss and toned down details. To narrow it down, the look is strongly influenced by workwear from the post-war period to 1970s. It’s the time when the idea of the modern worker was being born. Although that’s not set in stone, think sweatshirts with a logo like our Mount Sherman Sweatshirt, and you’re halfway there.


What do you wear with a sweatshirt?

Sweatshirts are always casual, so keep your pants, footwear and jacket laid back and your sweatshirt will look the part. Avoid formal shoes and suit trousers and jackets, but anything else goes. Jeans, work trousers, cargo pants, trainers, and a chore coat or parka work a treat.


For maximum authenticity in your workwear look, pull on a pair of 874 Original Work Pants. The colour should complement the sweatshirt but stick to grey or black and you’ll be able to wear any sweatshirt, be it plain or with a logo. A pair of trainers gives the street edge you’re looking for, but boots elevate the look to be suitable for a night in the bars or going to work.


Which sweatshirts work best for workwear?

To get that workwear vibe, it’s best to stick to relatively plain sweatshirts, although a small logo or name badge won’t overpower the look. Grey, white, maroon, blue or brown work well. Just avoid large, colourful, graphic images and stylised text, as you’re leaning towards an understated blue-collar look.

You’ll easily pull off the casual work wear look in a Bardwell sweatshirt, worn with contrasting work pants and your favourite pair of sneakers. It’s slightly oversize, so there’s room to move. For a little more colour, try our crew neck Pittsburgh Sweatshirt in pink berry, perfect with blue or black pants and some chunky work boots or comfy trainers. Topped off with a Lined Eisenhower Jacket, it’s a done deal.

The workwear style can easily work for women too, If you’re looking for a more preppy look, pair your sweatshirt with a complementing tennis skirt:


Every day’s a workwear day

You don’t have to be clocking in at the factory gate to get the workwear look – it’s a functional classic that has a strong streetwear feel. Keep tones muted and flourishes to a minimum and you’ll easily crack it.

Not quite formal, not quite casual – sometimes the middle ground ends up being pretty radical. And that’s the workwear look in a nutshell.

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