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Dressed-Up Workwear feat. Alex Crawford

November 26th, 2012

Practicality and durability are foundations of mens lives, and therefore, menswear design.

In fact, many of today’s “classics” originated as workwear garments or military-issued apparel. Denim jeans, flannel shirts, lace-up boots, fatigue jackets, etc. The efficiency of these garments made them popular in the US during the economic crisis of the 1930’s and, of course, the rationing periods of WWI and WWII.

In mid-century America, a good suit was the cornerstone of every man’s wardrobe, but for many in the lower and middle class, breaking it out for every special occasion wasn’t practical. Instead, men figured out ways to look presentable in their casual clothing and workwear – similar to the dressy/casual trend that is very popular today.

Growing up on a ranch in Texas, Alex‘s style has always been rooted in classic workwear. After working at Articles of Style for a couple years, he’s figured out how to use the staples in his wardrobe (many of which he’s owned long before moving to NYC) and style them for a non-workwear context.

Here’s three examples of “Dressed-Up Workwear”.

    1. The Site Manager

    This worker’s jacket is the perfect example of a cross between workwear and dress.

    Navy blue like a classic blazer, but cut from a heavy-duty cotton. Multiple machine-stitched pockets for reliable storage. No shoulder padding or internal canvas, for ultimate flexibility and range of motion. The collar and high button-stance also create pseudo-lapels while allowing for maximum body coverage and protection from the elements.

    In my opinion, this is a great outfit for a construction site manager or factory foreman who needs to be protected, but also have an air of formality or authority to his dress.

    If your job at the site calls for a trouser rather than a jean, go with a thick and durable cloth like corduroy, moleskin, flannel, tweed, etc.

    Like the jacket, these wingtip boots are a classic combination of utility and style. While these aren’t construction grade, there are plenty of good looking boots that offer full toe and heel protection, and thus are more suitable for a work site.

     2. Rugged Dandy

    Mixing elements that are casual/rugged/worn with ones that are formal/dressy/pristine is a great way to create a visually interesting look that is all your own.

    Alex really gets this.

    Here he’s combining a vintage flannel jacket, beat-up denim shirt and leather mocs with a cardigan vest, slim bowtie and family heirloom Rolex (as previously featured here).

    As we’ve written hundreds of times, vintage pieces are a great way to ad character to your look.

    Take this plaid jacket novelty bowtie, for example. The wear spots and subtle tears in the fabric actually make the look more interesting, in our opinion.

    Sometimes a pieces flaws are their most unique and interesting characteristics.

    • Red plaid workshirt/jacket vintage
    • Denim western shirt by Levi’s
    • Brown Herringbone Button Sweater Vest by Ralph Lauren
    • Vintage Yellow Patterned Bowtie
    • Watch by Rolex
    • Mustard Corduroy Pants by Uniqlo
    • Vintage Brown Crocodile Belt
    • Red Socks
    • Navy Camp Mocs by Bass

    3. Storage Units

    As an on-the-go photographer, it’s important to be protected from the elements and have plenty of storage space.

    Sometimes I’ll throw a tough waterproof jacket, like this Barbour, over a lighter fatigue to take advantage of it’s multitude of pockets. The beauty of workwear pieces is the practicality of their design, helping the wearer keep secure and organized while working.

    The wide brimmed hat is one of the oldest “workwear” pieces. It protects from heat, rain, snow, and keeps the sun out of your eyes. Crushable felt hats like this have been a staple for outdoorsmen for centuries.

    I’ve been wearing these jeans for so long that my Iphone left it’s mark. This is one of the reasons we often suggest storing your cellphone in your jacket pocket, but I kind of like it!

    With these boots I get all the function of a tried and true desert boot, but with the single monk strap, add a touch of formality.

    • Brown Felt Packable Hat by Orvis
    • Green Waxed Cotton Barbour Beaufort Jacket
    • Khaki Cotton Safari Jacket by J. Crew
    • Navy Windowpane Shirt by Gap
    • Grey wool donegal tie
    • Brown leather vintage belt
    • Blue jeans by JCrew
    • Olive Green Single Monk Boots by CAT Workwear

    Thanks, as always, for reading.

    Yours in style,

    Articles of Style


    Photography by Alex Crawford

    • fergal

      hi there,

      in Look 2 he is wearing a vintage plaid jacket. I have always assumed these originate in the 1950’s?

      or am i wrong?

    • Kien

      Awesome post guys. Been incorporating workwear into my wardrobe for years. Got some Carhartt chore coats and a few Barbour coats. What I like is the beat up and worn they become, the better they look…they really develop individual character.

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        Exactly. Thanks Kien!

    • Manifold

      I like this site, but these are all looks that would never be worn doing any real work with your hands. Trying a little too hard IMO.

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        Of course not. That is not at all what we meant by this.

    • Mrjbeee

      Nice post! Definitely digging the first 2 looks. That club collar is so fresh. I like the old school look to the second outfit. Keep it up!

    • @Vidal_nTheVille

      Love, love, love the first look! My pops had a jacket very similar to the blue one shown there in an olive green that I used to borrow often when I lived at home. It was very versatile, warm and comfy! I meant to pilfer it when I moved out. I really should pay my folks a visit soon…

      Peace & blessings,

    • TimL

      Ha,ha… I bet you get alot of ” dude is that a cell phone in your pocket are you just glad to see me?” in look 3.

      • http://tsbmen.com Alex Crawford

        Haha, you have no idea.

    • TimL

      Great look… I bought the same Stafford boots in look 1 last month. I also bought 4 other dress shoes by the same Stafford. Very comfortable and stylish.

    • Jess

      What a stud.

    • Josef

      I had no idea CAT made such killer boots. Very nice!

    • Don Pierre

      The last look is brilliant, functional yet classy. The brown felt hat is very sharp.