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Designed for the working man, these hard-wearing and perpetually stylish garments, including five-pocket jeans, chore coats, and work boots, are girded and braced for the tasks at hand.

WORKWEAR

FIVE-POCKET JEANS

The true cornerstone of rebel style, the five-pocket jean has played either a starring or a supporting role in style revolutions and subcultures of every stripe for the better part of a century.

The 501 remains the quintessential classic, and Levi’s Vintage Clothing still does a good version of their standard bearer (though it’s no longer made in America).

The world’s best jeansmakers are almost all operating in Japan. The list is a long one, but you can start your search with Iron Heart, Full Count, Samurai, Oni, TCB, and Warehouse.

For (much) more guidance, find your next pair with our Selvedge Masterlist.

Illustration by Florian Bayer
Illustration by Florian Bayer
WORKWEAR

FIVE-POCKET JEANS

The true cornerstone of rebel style, the five-pocket jean has played either a starring or a supporting role in style revolutions and subcultures of every stripe for the better part of a century.

The 501 remains the quintessential classic, and Levi’s Vintage Clothing still does a good version of their standard bearer (though it’s no longer made in America).

The world’s best jeansmakers are almost all operating in Japan. The list is a long one, but you can start your search with Iron Heart, Full Count, Samurai, Oni, TCB, and Warehouse.

For (much) more guidance, find your next pair with our Selvedge Masterlist.

Illustration by Florian Bayer

THE T-SHIRT

As essential as they come, the plain tee is the natural companion for well-made selvedge. While the pioneering makers, Hanes and Jockey, still do tees fairly well (and cheaply), heritage makers surpass the original by a wide margin. Those who want to recapture the vintage style should try Mister Freedom’s Stanley tee.

Other makers of perfectly cut and sewn tees made the authentic way (i.e., loopwheeled) include The Rite Stuff, Merz b. Schwanen, Warehouse, Samurai, The Strike Gold, and Utilitees.

White's Semi Dress boots

THE WORK BOOT

Boots make the man (and, for the well-dressed rebel, make or break the look). For classic moc-toes and six-inch boots, Red Wing remains the most popular option for good reason. For seriously well-made hardware, look to the Pacific Northwest, particularly to makers like Wesco, White’s, or Nick’s.

For the truly uncompromising boot lover, look even further west to Japan, where you’ll find Moto, White Kloud, and Clinch. For the best made-in-America boots, join the long waiting list for Role Club or Kreosote boots (they’re worth the wait).

PLAID FLANNELS

A woodsy classic with roots in the northern logging camps, the flannel found its way to the Californian coast, where it become an essential for surfers who wanted to stay warm after sunset. 

Thanks to seemingly endless colourways and patterns, it changes with the seasons, but in solid red and black, it’s as timeless as they come.

Woolrich and Pendleton make the original, but the very best (and heaviest) flannels have Iron Heart, UES, Samurai, Freenote, or Flat Head on the label.

UES heavy flannel
UES heavy flannel

PLAID FLANNELS

A woodsy classic with roots in the northern logging camps, the flannel found its way to the Californian coast, where it become an essential for surfers who wanted to stay warm after sunset. 

Thanks to seemingly endless colourways and patterns, it changes with the seasons, but in solid red and black, it’s as timeless as they come.

Woolrich and Pendleton make the original, but the very best (and heaviest) flannels have Iron Heart, UES, Samurai, Freenote, or Flat Head on the label.

The Rite Stuff Heracles chambray

THE CHAMBRAY SHIRT

The shirt that put the blue in blue-collar, the chambray is warp-and-weft workwear, but it has transitioned effortlessly into nearly all styles that accommodate button-up shirts. Equally at home with a pair of overalls and with a preppy blazer, it’s the most chameleon-like of the workwear fabrics.

The Rite Stuff make a stitch-perfect reproduction of the archetypal chambray, but chances are your favorite (quality) maker has a chambray as well. Some of our favorites: Full Count, Benzak, and Iron Heart.

The Rite Stuff Heracles chambray

THE CHAMBRAY SHIRT

The shirt that put the blue in blue-collar, the chambray is warp-and-weft workwear, but it has transitioned effortlessly into nearly all styles that accommodate button-up shirts. Equally at home with a pair of overalls and with a preppy blazer, it’s the most chameleon-like of the workwear fabrics.

The Rite Stuff make a stitch-perfect reproduction of the archetypal chambray, but chances are your favorite (quality) maker has a chambray as well. Some of our favorites: Full Count, Benzak, and Iron Heart.

Benzak BWS-02 utility shirt

THE RAILROAD WORK SHIRT

When the steam-powered locomotives held a virtual monopoly on long-distance travel, those who worked on the railroad did so in distinctive striped patterns. Wabash, first produced by J.L. Stifel & Sons in the 1830s, became the fabric of choice for many, but Union Pacific broke from the pack by opting for hickory.

Freewheelers have licensed the Stifel name, so their wabash is the most authentic of the bunch. Iron Heart, Railcar, and Benzak have excellent wabash shirts, and Gitman Vintage and Iron Heart do hickory well.

THE OVERALLS

Overalls slide in and out of fashion once every decade or so without ever overstaying their welcome. At the same time, they never seem able to really put their feet up and make themselves comfortable in everyday wardrobes.

For vintage workwear purists, it doesn’t get much more authentic than bib overalls combined with chambray shirts, but as authentic as the look is, it can be difficult to pull off. Wear them confidently and purposefully and you’ll never get upstaged.

Naked & Famous make a great version, and Carhartt is as reliable as ever. If you’re looking for the best, though, start with Japanese workwear brands like TCB and Iron Heart.

The classic chore coat

THE CHORE COAT

Essential, elegant, and blue, the bleu de travail became iconic on the backs of hard-working French labourers. It’s got a museum-worthy simplistic design that just works, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more hard-wearing and practical coat.

American and English brands have some great versions, but for the creme de la creme, look to the coat’s birthplace in France, where makers like Vetra, Le Laboureur, Le Mont Saint Michel, and Arpenteur are all carrying on the coat’s glorious and gritty tradition.

THE FLAT CAP

For the true-blue vintage lover, the flat cap is the finishing touch that truly completes the look. It pulls us back in time, perhaps back to the days when newsboys plied their trade on street corners, or perhaps even further back, to a simpler, rustic past.

A true character piece, those who adopt the flat cap can count on turning heads. London’s Bates Hats do an exceptionally fine version, as do Tokyo’s H.W. Dog & Co and London’s Lock & Co., and, of course, there’s always Stetson.

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Illustrations from The Rebel’s Wardrobe, gestalten 2022.

Rebel Essentials » Workwear