Every few years, menswear cognoscenti have a collective epiphany about a certain garment, realizing it’s a must for every man’s closet. We’ve seen it with sneakers, turtlenecks, rugby shirts. These aren’t trends so much as inductions into the hall of menswear’s greatest. Trends come and go, these are new classics. The latest inductee? Meet the chore coat, the jacket you need to know now.
The chore coat comes from humble origins, beginning as a uniform for French factory workers in the 19th century. It was designed for utility: a boxy silhouette for ease of movement, traditionally in hardy materials like canvas, with plenty of patch pockets for handy storage of tools. We’ve come a long way from those original bleu de travail (though those OG models are a coveted get among the vintage collector set) but today’s chore coats retain their antecedent’s clean lines and rugged swagger. Rendered in everything from suiting wools to selvedge denim, the latest generation of chore coats can be a brilliant alternative to blazers for business-casual attire or a rakish layer atop off-duty looks.
Lightweight as they are, chore coats thrive in transitional Spring and Fall weather. Plus, their laid-back attitude is perfectly attuned to the current moment—existing somewhere between a hoodie and sport coat. We are in a chore coat renaissance, with options to suit every style; get one or risk being that guy who scoffed at sneakers in 2010. Below, we’ve rounded up ten of the best to buy now.
Drake’s Indigo Selvedge Denim Chore Jacket
A hybrid between a denim trucker jacket and a classic chore coat, this model from Drake’s offers two wardrobe essentials in one. The rivets and jean buttons keep it on the more casual end of the spectrum—so go ahead and give a beating. The heavyweight selvedge will only look better with a few battle wounds.
A.P.C. x Carhartt WIP ‘Mishiguene’ Jacket
Carhartt actually outfits manual labor professionals (not just the guys that want to cop their style). As such, it produces some of the most authentic American chore coats. Cool as those are, we’re partial to this more refined version made in collaboration with A.P.C. The silhouette is essentially the same but the double-faced cotton canvas and engraved buttons are decidedly more sophisticated.
Officine Générale Cotton Chore Jacket
This jacket wears its workwear roots more lightly—making it a top contender for more button-up outfits. The timeless navy and brown stripes will look just as good with a dress shirt and trousers as they will with a tee and chinos. Best of all, it’s currently 30 percent off.
Double RL ‘Harrison’ Cotton Jacket
Ralph Lauren is the undisputed king of Americana and, as such, he regularly riffs on the chore jacket. We love the subtle wink on this one in a hard-wearing cotton ripstop: the camo print is interspersed with palm trees.
Barena Venezia ‘Cedrone Quadro’ Overshirt
This is how to do a dressed-up chore coat. The combination of a fine, suit-worthy checked wool blend, horn buttons and fewer pockets (how many tools do you really need to tote around?) make it one extremely elegant iteration of this humble jacket.
Neighborhood Multi-Pocket Shirt Jacket
Japanese streetwear brand Neighborhood’s jacket has the ripped-and-repaired patina of a true vintage bleu de travail—check out that faded blue color. Even if you normally avoid the distressed look, this chore coat wears it very, very well.
Craig Green Worker Jacket
In a quilted tech fabric, Craig Green’s chore coat offers a more modern vision of utility. Despite its tough looks, this jacket’s flattering proportions (underscored by the self-tie belt at the waist) have a finesse that works with streetwear and tailored clothes alike.
Universal Works Indigo-Dyed Cotton and Wool Chore Jacket
By swapping a traditional canvas or twill for a tweedy cotton-wool blend, this jacket gives the chore coat a more debonair attitude. The classic blue and white check will look great with denim and even better with a pair of gray flannel trousers once cooler climes arrive.
Kidur ‘The Train’ Jacket
Founded in 1927, workwear outfitter Kidur is the real deal. The brand began by outfitting laborers in France and continues to offer gimmick-free renditions of those staples. This particular jacket, in a heavyweight Japanese twill with dapper brass buttons, is based on a model worn by railway workers at the turn of the century.
Acne Studios ‘Omar’ Workwear Jacket
Acne Studios distills the chore coat to its sleek, streamlined essence. The concealed press-stud closures and notched lapel collar are stylish deviations from the norm, but the khaki cotton twill keeps this jacket firmly rooted in its heritage.