What Are Work Clothes?

For those of us who’ve work in manual and physically demanding jobs, it may be fair to say that we’d be able to conjure up a similar image when pressed to describe the features and appearance of ‘work clothes’. Attire we wouldn’t wear to a formal occasion. We might wear it for an evening after work but not at a weekend, unless we’re actively doing something work-related. Splashes of paint, worn logos, the occasional hole or tear and de-elastication. These garments are unlikely to be brand new.

I’d like to question the psychological effects of dressing in such a way.

Above you can see what was, until recently, one of my favourite ‘work jumpers’. In contrast to some items, it would still fit me quite well (I estimate that I bought it in 2005) and it’s fairly lightweight, to the point where I could wear it in all but the height of summer, when working indoors.

Upon closer inspection, you’ll see holes just about the waist area. Most of these are quite recent, as in in the last two or three years. Unwashable glue stains have also multiplied in number. Each time I’ve worn this, I’ve been ready for work… But stepping in to a supermarket or collecting a parcel from the Post Office afterwards… I can equally feel like a tramp.

These were my most-prized work trousers. Reasonably priced at £20 for the pair, perhaps no more than three-years old. A short-term working experience towards the end of 2017 led to them being covered in polyurethane glue. When someone tells you not to get it on your hands, this is why… It does not wash off easily! Since then, the quality elsewhere has degraded, with a hole forming on the front of my right-hand pocket (admittedly, I also keep my keys in there).

Wearing these trousers with the jumper above, I might feel less comfortable.

When you turn up for work each day looking like crap, I believe it can have an effect on your mood and your performance. I since binned these items, along with a few worn T-shirts and I feel much better about starting fresh in my latest role with a fresh company. If I was in the position of regular attending customer’s homes for work purposes, I know I would feel very uncomfortable turning up in rags. For another thing, they may also think less of me and, if I was providing an estimate or quote, they may even choose to look elsewhere, with a fear that I might treat their home as poorly as my own belongings.

If you turn up for work frequently covered in plaster, paint or come home trailing sawdust like me… Perhaps you may like to consider the effects this may or may not have on you.

Thanks for reading.

5 thoughts on “What Are Work Clothes?

  1. I have had to have a big clear out of work clothes. When I worked in people’s houses I tried to look semi smart. I’d opt for black trousers or shorts and a grey polo shirt black jumper.
    Most of these have worn out now and have holes in the armpits and just look terrible but I’m workshop based now.
    Still Something I really need to invest in really. I have some dickies shirts that have lasted 5 years but, saving money, the Matalan ones I purchased have lasted half the time.
    My workshop gets so hot at the moment I don’t even wear a shirt!
    One thing I hated on site was anyone wearing tracksuit bottoms. Its like they’d given up!

    1. Interesting to hear that you’ve had a clear out of your own clothes. We spend so much on tools and materials it can be easy to overlook other things. Interesting to hear that your Matalan shirts have lasted quite well – I hadn’t thought of shopping there.

      I recently left a factory environment where 90% of people working there wore tracksuit bottoms… They’re not practical for anything, in my opinion!! Always falling down, getting caught on things, inferior pockets, surely not breathable…

      1. No the Matalan ones last half the time, they seem to shrink upwards. Unless that’s my stomach going outwards! I like to have clothes that are for work rather than ones that are too rough for normal use. Aldi work shorts and trousers are pretty good as well if you’re on a budget.

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