As an keen sewer I am constantly thinking about clothes and in particular menswear. The problem is that us men have a really limited range of clothing: I suppose what I mean is that a lot of mens clothing is boring. I know you can make clothes in different ways and use different material but most menswear is ‘samey’. This got me thinking about wearing other forms of clothing; no not skirts and dresses but looking at more utilitarian forms of clothing. A lot of clothing ‘styles’ that, both men and women wear daily, had a past life and started out being designed for a different purpose other than as fashion.
Take the humble pair of jeans; designed for cowboys and miners but are now a staple of everyones wardrobe. The Bomber jacket was, as the name suggests, for military pilots. Of course a lot of military style clothing has become fashion over the years and not just for the camouflage pattern. I remember as a teenager how the Donkey jacket was what everyone was wearing, me included!
Back in June I read about the death of Bill Cunningham, the legendary New York Times fashion photographer and there was an iconic picture of him with camera in hand, perched on his bike. What really grabbed my attention was what he was wearing. The classic blue work jacket or ‘bleu de travail’. Sometimes called the French chore jacket and similar to the ‘engineers’ or ‘railway’ jacket.
|(Mark Lennihan / AP)|
This got me thinking again and whether more ‘work wear’ could become fashion. I’m not suggesting we all go out and dress like labourers but surely this type of clothing is practical as well as comfortable? What about making a ‘chore jacket’ in a different colour (other than blue or black) and adding a little shaping to bring it more into fashion.
Of course I did a little research and the French chore jacket, has indeed become fashionable including an oversize woman’s version hitting the catwalk from Vetements in their Spring collection. Now being fashionable means that buying one will be expensive! Further research shows that only 1 sewing pattern for a similar style jacket exists. The Merchant and Mills ‘Foreman’. Whilst I love the smaller pattern makers doing something different, I wonder if more patterns should exist for the ‘workwear fashion’ and could other pattern makers do something similar.
Well I have some decent cotton drill fabric. It was a deep Indigo blue but after a quick soak in the bath (with a drop of weak bleach solution) it is now a deep maroon with a worn out/washed out look.
So I am going to design my own chore/engineer/railway jacket and see what happens. A bit more research is needed and thought as to what will bring the garment up to date but hopefully I will have something together soon.
What do you think? Can workwear be fashionable?
Until next time…..Happy Sewing