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Pulling off the right workwear vintage look just got easy!

June 3, 2019

With many more entrants now joining the ranks of workwear fashion, working men now have more options for creating the ideal workwear vintage look than ever before.


A decade or more ago, there were just a handful of manufacturers of workwear pieces for the working male. Levi Strauss & Co, Dickie’s and Carhartt were probably the “go to” names for working men. Since then though, with other labels creating vintage and retro-inspired clothing for the workforce, it’s become much easier for men at work to create the perfect vintage workwear look!

The Mackinaw cold weather jacket

The Mackinaw cold weather jacket

Buckling the Trend

When it comes to creating a wardrobe for work, men tend to struggle at getting it right. It’s easier for guys to assemble a party look or a sporty look at the drop of a hat. But when it’s time to put some practical workwear vintage pieces together, they get, umm… all worked up!


For the longest of contemporary times, work clothes were confined to dress shirts and straight-cut dress trousers. A cargo pant or a blazer could also be seen behind the desk, or a pair of jeans out in the field. But today, there’s much more choice available, and men are buckling the trend to gravitate to create their unique workwear vintage look everywhere.

Blue17 vintage French work jacket

Blue17 vintage French work jacket


Where once you’d see men in tailored-fit blazers over blended woolen waistcoats, today, it’s not uncommon to see working men wearing the omnipresent French work jacket – the Bleu de travail. And at outdoor worksites, the trend used to be for men in drab overalls or coveralls. But today, workwear pieces like the plaid vintage Pendleton wool shirt – complete with elbow patches and chest pockets – are a common sight.


For working men in the outdoors, the trend often was to wear one-size-fits all work garments, usually made from cotton twill or other heavy-duty materials. Today, however, there are a full range of classic outdoor wear, like the vintage French army “foreign legion” chinos, that allow for the perfect workwear vintage look. While buckling the usual trend for work wardrobes isn’t just simple and easy to accomplish today, it can also be done with stylish vintage clothes that are easy to source and simple to integrate with other contemporary workwear pieces.

Men's suits in the 1940s

Men’s suits in the 1940s

Workwear Vintage Look Ideas

One of the central themes of contemporary work wardrobes is the idea of fusion – where working men tend to blend today’s clothing with workwear from yesteryear. For instance, we see many men on buses, in the tube and on the streets, heading to work wearing a vintage era military jacket over a modern-day cut dress shirt.


Other vintage era workwear pieces may also be seen inter-woven with contemporary work dress-wear. For instance, a perfectly acceptable workwear vintage look can easily be pulled off by pairing a washed denim cowboy shirt with a darker blue tailored-fit blazer, or even a charcoal grey jacket, with a cuffed-up pair of khaki cargos. The contrasting colours make the ensemble easy on the eye, yet they make working men look distinctively “current” – in a vintagey kind of way!


Or, consider wearing a pair of dark blue 1950’s Levi’s jeans for work. If this is a work wardrobe for the outdoors, you could easily pull off a great workwear vintage look by pairing those jeans with a modern-cut plaid Dickie’s work shirt.  Finish that look with a pair of Red Wing Irish Setter vintage brown work boots, and you’re all set for a day’s work outside. On a particularly cold day, you could layer your getup with appropriate workwear pieces, such as a vintage 70s Lee leather Bomber Jacket.

Chuck D, from Public Enemy, performing live at Bilbao

Chuck D, from Public Enemy, performing live at Bilbao

Sportswear ideas

For working men who are sports fans, and heading off to work, a 90s Adidas Black & White German football shell jacket might be the perfect outerwear to blend workwear with fashion. A pair of straight-cut Carhartt hard wearing trousers could work well to compliment your workwear vintage look. And if it’s a more informal workday, substitute those Carhartt’s for a pair of “less dressy” workwear pieces, like a US Marine Corps wool trousers.


Whether it’s for a particularly windy day, or whether it’s just to add to the ambience of your workwear wardrobe, a decent head-wear piece could go a long way to accessorizing your workwear vintage look. A Barbour tweed stalker hat, or a Camel felt wool fedora can blend in with almost anything that you wear to work – whether it’s one of the ensemble’s discussed above, or even something contemporary – like a tailored fit suit and tie.

Hipster fashion, t-shirt and jeans

Hipster fashion, t-shirt and jeans


Other workwear pieces, like an original, vibrant coloured Tootal vintage scarf, would be a great way for working men to accessories their work wardrobes during late fall or early winter.


These are just some ideas to get you started for creating that perfect workwear vintage look. However, whatever you do, and however you decide to mix and match contemporary and vintage era workwear pieces, just remember one simple rule above all: Working men shouldn’t sacrifice style for comfort. Because, if you don’t feel at ease in the workwear you’ve chosen, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be your best at work wearing it!


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