Style / January 2018

How to Combine Tailoring and Workwear

The details and designs may have evolved, but tailoring and workwear have always been inextricably linked, The Rake discovers.

Keita Hiraoko’s tailored, single-breasted jacket is unstructured, unlined and made out of a rugged cotton moleskin. Combined with wide-legged chinos, a wasitcoat and a 1950s white T-shirt, he anchors his workwear with menswear classics. Photo by Jamie Ferguson.

The wearing of a pair of jeans with a tailored jacket has become the stuff of stylistic cliche. It’s a kind of concession both to the received wisdom that tailoring is often stiff in image and form relative to denim, and likewise that denim can lack the formality to see you at home in certain settings. When it comes to tailoring and workwear, perhaps really never the twain shall meet.

But that’s not an obvious conclusion: after all, while America may have been built by the denim-clad and France by men in moleskin, at least for the early decades of the British 20th century, tailoring was workwear. Men typically wore a tailored jacket as much to dig roads as to file accounts; archive images of pit workers - begrimed with soot, leaving the colliery to head home - are striking today for the fact that they seem to show men in suits, albeit battered ones. Likewise even the well-to-do wore tailoring to partake in more active, country pursuits, whether that be leisure or land management: all that changed was one or two functional details and the hardiness of the cloth.

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Josh Sims

Josh Sims is a writer on menswear, design and much else for the likes of Wallpaper, CNN, Robb Report and The Times. He's the author of several books on menswear, the latest 'The Details', published by Laurence King. He lives in London, has two small children and is permanently exhausted.