The chore jacket just might be the ultimate garment. Here are my top 12 picks for the best chore coats out there.
At this point, the chore jacket is pretty much a wardrobe staple, and it’s easy to see why. It’s an unassuming and incredibly versatile piece that’s as functional as it is fashionable. (Those big old pockets are great for today’s oversized phones).
While plenty of menswear is essentially repurposed workwear, the chore jacket is one of the rare garments that can actually take a beating and look good doing it.
Chore jackets are hard-wearing and long-lasting, so whether you work in the fields or from the comfort of your own home, you’ll get a ton of mileage out of this simple item.
A Brief History of the Chore Jacket
In case you’re not already on the chore jacket bandwagon, here’s a short introduction to this storied garment.
The chore jacket (or coat) was developed in the late 19th century for French laborers, railroad workers, and engineers who needed durable, practical clothing.
The garment’s design is a direct reflection of these needs. The first chore jackets were made out of tough moleskin or cotton drill and cut in a looser fit to allow for ease of movement even when layered. The roomy patch pockets provided ample storage for tools, and the button cuffs made sleeve rolling easy.
These early chore coats were often dyed a distinctive, vibrant shade of blue. They boomed in popularity across France and were referred to as “bleu de travail,” which translates to “blue work.” That name stuck around until the jackets made their way to the US and became known as chore coats.
Now, that iconic shade of blue is known simply as French blue. (Some accounts assert that the color was chosen to disguise dirt and stains, but no one seems to know exactly why).
The chore jacket was first manufactured by workwear brands like Le Mont Saint Michel, Vetra, and Le Laboureur in France, and Carhartt and Levi’s in the US.
Fast forward to today, and just about every clothing brand has its own spin on the chore coat, making it easier than ever to find one that works for you.
Short on time? Here are our top three picks for the best chore jackets you can buy right now:
Read on for the full list…
The 12 Best Chore Coats
If you’re hankering for this workwear staple, here are a dozen excellent options to consider picking up:
Vintage Chore Jackets
There’s nothing quite like a vintage or deadstock chore jacket. These 20th-century surplus pieces are chock full of authentic style and unbeatable charm that can’t be replicated with contemporary garments.
Vintage chore coats are readily available on eBay and Etsy, and they don’t cost as much as you might think — expect to pay around $30–$60 plus shipping. eBay seller 1984vtg has a particularly excellent selection (just look at those faded French blue jackets!).
Le Mont Saint Michel Genuine Work Jacket
If you want the timeless look of a vintage chore coat with the durability and quality of a freshly-made garment, look no further than the Genuine Work Jacket from Le Mont Saint Michel.
This French brand was one of the first to manufacture chore jackets, and it’s still going strong today. In fact, the jacket Le Mont Saint Michel offers today, with its perfectly boxy silhouette and sturdy moleskin, is almost identical to the original 1913 version.
The Genuine Work Jacket is available in ten sizes and a whopping 18 colors (though it’s hard to beat that classic blue). Given the brand’s provenance — and the fact that this jacket is made to last a lifetime and then some — the ~$300 price tag is more than reasonable.
Le Laboureur Cotton Work Jacket
Le Laboureur has been making its Cotton Work Jacket since 1956, so it’s safe to say the brand has played an integral role in the development of the chore coat.
The Cotton Work Jacket is still as timeless as ever, reflecting the early French coats with its utilitarian design. It’s cut in a classic fit that’s less relaxed but still roomy enough for some layering, and the three external patch pockets give you lots of storage space.
Depending on where you live and which colors and sizes you’re looking at, you may have some difficulty finding a retailer (especially if you’re in the US). That said, the Cotton Work Jacket can be found for as low as $100, so it might be worth jumping through a few hoops.
Carrier Company Norfolk Work Jacket
Inspired by garb worn by rural English gardeners, the Norfolk Work Jacket by Carrier Company is a wonderfully slouchy take on the chore coat.
Made from a sturdy medium-weight cotton drill, the Norfolk Work Jacket features a generous cut, slanted hip pockets, and relaxed sleeves. The result is a rugged yet elegant jacket that can be worn year-round.
Each garment is cut, stitched, and finished by hand in Norfolk, and you can choose from eight versatile colors. It currently retails for just $155, which is an amazing deal given the jacket’s evergreen look and outstanding construction.
Universal Works Bakers Jacket
As far as contemporary chore jackets go, the Bakers Jacket is one of the best. It’s a stylishly practical piece that’s great for elevating any outfit.
While clearly inspired by antique French chore coats, the Bakers Jacket keeps things fresh with details like a rounded hem and a slanted, dyed buttonhole. It has more of a regular cut, making it a good option if you prefer more tailored fits.
You can find the Bakers Jacket in a wide variety of colors and materials, so whether you want an all-seasons jacket or a statement piece, you’ll find something that’s up your street.
Patagonia Men’s Iron Forge Hemp® Canvas Chore Coat
Building on the American style of chore jacket established by brands like Carhartt, Patagonia’s Iron Forge Hemp® Canvas Chore Coat is a more industrial take on the garment that has a lot to offer.
This extra-functional jacket is made from a heavy 12.9-oz hemp canvas that offers a unique balance of sturdiness and breathability. (There’s also a denim version if that’s more your style.) The coat is outfitted with six pockets, metal shank buttons, and an adjustable waist tab.
Keep in mind that these run large, so it may be wise to size down unless you want a really spacious fit. You can pick one up new from Patagonia’s main site or buy secondhand through the company’s Worn Wear program.
Taylor Stitch Ojai Jacket
The Ojai’s design is based on the classic French chore coat, but its construction is thoroughly modern. Made from pre-washed 8oz organic cotton, the Ojai Jacket features ring-back buttons, reinforced pockets, and double-needle stitching.
There’s even a pen slot in the chest pocket that’s perfect for stashing your EDC pen.
At $188, the Ojai Jacket is a nice option if you want a chore jacket that’s up-to-date but still true to its roots.
Nudie Jeans Barney Worker Jacket
While Nudie Jeans specializes in denim, the Swedish brand’s menswear shouldn’t be overlooked. The lineup is full of workwear-inspired pieces that blend the old with the new, and the Barney Worker Jacket is a great example of that approach.
Billed as a year-round overshirt, the Barney is lightweight yet sturdy, made from organic and fair-trade cotton. It’s cut in a slimmer fit, so keep that in mind if you plan to layer.
Uniquely, traceability is a big plus for the Barney. The Product Transparency tab on the product page provides detailed information about where the materials were sourced and manufactured, which is nice for anyone seeking to buy better clothing.
L.C. King Hickory Stripe Chore Coat
Hickory stripe is a classic American pattern that’s most synonymous with railroad engineers and workers, making it a perfect chore jacket design — and L.C. King’s Hickory Stripe Chore Coat proves it.
This jacket is constructed using a tough 10 oz. denim that’s bar tacked for maximum durability. Fittingly, the fabric for this heritage-inspired coat is sourced from Mount Vernon Mills, the oldest surviving denim mill in the US.
Despite how traditional the coat is, there are some thoughtful additions to the construction, like angled sleeve buttonholes for easier fastening and a contrasting indigo pocket on the inside.
Dickies Denim Chore Coat
Denim is a fantastic chore jacket material, and Dickies is one of the most storied American workwear brands. Put those together, and you get the hard-wearing Denim Chore Coat.
Available in a light or dark wash, the Denim Chore Coat is a classic fit jacket that’s double-needle stitched throughout. With three patch pockets, tack buttons, and a back vent, the jacket has all of the specs you’d expect.
Perhaps the best thing about the Denim Chore Coat is the price — you can pick one up straight from Dickies for just $85. If you dig denim, this is a great option.
Flax London Midweight Railway Jacket
Linen is usually pigeonholed as a summer-only fabric, but Flax London is dispelling that myth by making heavier linen clothing designed to be worn all year long.
The Midweight Railway Jacket is the brand’s version of a chore coat. The textured 12.5oz linen is thicker but still breathable, making it especially good for layering.
At about $375, the Midweight Railway is definitely an investment, but if you’re after a truly versatile chore coat that you can wear anytime — and one that will get better with age — then this handsome jacket should be on your radar.
Yarmouth Oilskins Deck Jacket
Yarmouth Oilskins has been crafting workwear for more than 120 years, and the brand drew directly from that experience to design the Deck Jacket.
This washed cotton twill coat features a relaxed fit, snap buttons, and generously sized pockets. It’s less structured than other chore jackets, which helps with layering, and its design is minimal enough to complement just about any outfit.
The Deck Jacket is currently available in either olive or indigo, and you can also pick up a pair of matching trousers for a monochromatic look.
It’s hard to find a garment that’s more versatile than a good chore jacket. With its clean lines and casual silhouette, the chore jacket pairs well with just about everything. (As the owner of eight chore coats, I may be biased).
If you don’t already have at least one chore jacket in your wardrobe, it’s high time to fix that, and you can’t go wrong with any of the 12 coats on this list.
How would you style this versatile garment? Let me know in the comments!