Like big trucks and cold beers, the best work jackets for men have long been sewn into the fabric of blue-collar American life. But in recent years, the burly outerwear has been party to one of the greatest crossover events in men’s style history, making its way from OSHA-approved jobsite attire to the everyday wardrobes of fellas whose only calluses come from holding an iPhone too long.
You don’t have to guess at why the work jacket made the leap from workwear to menswear: it’s easy to wear, unpretentious, and features a very of-the-moment boxy, forgiving fit. Originals from the likes of Dickies and Carhartt don’t cost much new, and it’s not uncommon to find an entire rack in your town’s best-sourced secondhand shop dedicated to not-so-gently used versions, made all the cooler for a couple decades’ worth of fades, rips, and stains.
The Best Work Jackets Shopping Guide
Which points to the real reason why the work jacket has broken out: It’s decidedly brawny, built to get up with the rooster’s crow and put in a hard 12 hours without missing a beat. In all likelihood, that’s not something you need—but who doesn’t want to pull on a bit of ready-for-anything armor as they set out the door, even if that’s just to the neighborhood café for a latte and free WiFi? Especially if that armor’s got a toasty quilted or blanket linings to keep you warm on your morning commute.
Not surprisingly, now that the work jacket’s become a closet cornerstone for even the most corporate among us, they’ve been given the full fashion treatment. You can scoop up a designer-made work jacket that looks like it’s been beat on for years, or a version that sacrifices practicality for a slimmer fit and exotically-sourced upscale materials. Whether your idea of “getting shit done” means laying brick or laying out a Powerpoint, you’ll find just the right option in the 15 best work jackets for men we pulled together here.
The Only Work Jacket You Really Need
Carhartt’s 70-year-old Detroit jacket is the OG and the platonic ideal of a work jacket, sitting alongside jean jackets and and cowboy boots on the Mount Rushmore of true-blue American style icons. The recipe hasn’t changed much over seven decades: there’s a stiff, hefty canvas with a blanket lining, perfectly-placed slanted pockets, and a contrasting corduroy collar to turn up when the wind’s whistling. And as the red-hot vintage market for Detroits proves, this is a closet staple that truly looks better the more you beat it up.
The Just-As-Legendary Sleeper Hit
If any workwear label matches Carhartt’s cred, it’s Dickies—yet the Texas-born brand’s Eisenhower jacket remains an under-the-radar alternative to the hyperpopular Detroit. Inspired by the wool WWII-era style preferred by its presidential namesake (though no longer reflective of the source material), this cotton-constructed zip-up remains one of the simplest, wear-with-literally-anything jackets ever conceived. It’s a true symbol of classic workwear’s timeless appeal that’ll look good today and 20 years from now.
The Workwear 3.0 Pick
Most workwear brands are defined by decades of history, but Randy’s Garments is proof that a new label can come along and make premium, hard-wearing gear with a fresh point of view. Case-in-point: The brand’s logo-free, denim take on the work jacket. The denim itself is a sturdy 12oz fabric that’s been rinsed once to soften it just a smidge, but still retains its deep indigo hue so you can expect sweet, well-earned fades down the line. It’s also a work jacket that stands out among eagle-eyed menswear enthusiasts, its modest, logo-less design bound to earn you some “ID on that?” DMs when you show up on the ‘gram.
The “This Fashion Stuff Is Hard Work” Pick
The Swedish geniuses at Our Legacy are masters at freaking workwear classics (see: their digitally-printed distressed denim), and this work jacket is no exception. It gets a little across-the-pond countryside flavor in the form of a subtle tartan pattern, and stays ready for rainy, windy strolls thanks to its waxed cotton construction. The minimal silhouette makes it surprisingly versatile: dress it up over a turtleneck en route to dinner or throw it on over a sweatshirt wen you shuffle down the block for your Sunday cup of joe.
The Pre-Broken-In Pick
Most work jackets start off stiff—the price you pay for denim or canvas that can survive a couple decades—and for some folks, the process of softening up a box-fresh work jacket is part of the fun. For anyone who’d rather not walk around for a few weeks looking like they’ve zipped on a cardboard box, this work jacket from Taylor Stitch is the shortcut to worn-in goodness. The brown canvas is double-dyed and stone-washed for off-the rack comfort, but not overdone to the point of blue collar stolen valor.