All Hail the Chore Coat, Workwear Warrior of Spring Outerwear

The official layer for getting shit done

Updated September 22, 2023 8:34 am
a collage of the best chore coats for men on a brown background
When it comes to fall layers, the best chore coats reign supreme.
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Try as we might to find any other jacket for spring — and we’ve tried, from anoraks to denim joints to technical shells — there’s nothing that scratches that early-fall-morning-wearing-boots-for-the-first-time-and-sipping-a-pumpkin-spice-latte-that-we’re-totally-not-embarrassed-by itch like a chore coat. We constantly find ourselves reaching for that certain tri-pocketed lightweight layer when the temps hit the mid-60s and the Sam Adam Octoberfests hit shelves everywhere: call us basic, but the lightweight layer is, in our books, the best that fall has to offer.

What Is a Chore Coat?

Originating in 19th-century France, the chore coat was first worn by farmers and other laborers, and they were generally made from moleskin or cotton that had been dyed bright indigo — what the French call bleu de travail, or “work blue.” Built to handle weather and work alike, the jacket is sturdy by nature, a layer for the chill and grime of transitional seasons.

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Today’s versions are seen more in coffee shops and trendy restaurants than out in the fields, but, true to their origins, are generally made of some sort of hard-wearing canvas material and emulate the original French design: most feature three oversized patch pockets and durable button closures, and they tend to hit somewhere right below the waist.

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How to Style a Chore Coat

We find chore coats to be among the most versatile outerwear options in our closet, specifically as they’re easily dressed down when layered over a T-shirt, but then nicely fancied up over a button-down or perhaps some totally cool chinos. (You haven’t heard?) And since they’re meant to be worn by people performing actual labor, they’ll obviously be able to stand up to the rigors of your next park days with the kids or work post-work bar crawl.

Below, we’ve highlighted 15 of our favorites, a challenge when it comes to the beloved style. From Todd Snyder to Universal Works, these chore coats stand the test of transitional conditions, all while making you look like the stolen-valor workwear hero you are. Below, the 15 best chore coats for men to wear in this spring.

Central to Universal Works is the idea of “contemporary menswear”, which manifests in a variety of inspired workwear from the U.K.-founded label. We particularly love their tentpole Bakers Chore Jacket Style for its not-so-subtle patterning and boxy fit — double up with some tasteful selvedge and you’ve got quite the fall ‘fit to be reckoned with.

Ever since the season’s turn, we’ve been turning to Carhartt’s Work In Progress (WIP) division for their Michigan Chore Coat. We recommend it without reservation for chillier temps: a heavy 12 oz organic and untreated cotton Dearborn Canvas twill insulates you for potential chill and can take an absolute beating, whether strolling through the park or frying up dogs at the backyard soiree. A word of note: size up if you want a relaxed fit.

Taylor Stitch makes its signature Ojai chore coat in a wide range of colors and fabrics, and it’s the kind of garment that’s so well-made and so perfectly and authentically designed that it it’s not difficult to imagine wanting to invest in a few different ones. We’re partial to this smokey granite color, which stands out just enough from the sea of blues and tans you tend to see.

Small French family-owned brand Le Laboureur has been producing traditional workwear since the 1950s, and every ounce of European quality shines through in their ultra-traditional French Cotton Work Jacket. It’s not as streamlined or tech-heavy as other modern chore coats, but that’s part of the beauty: it’s the pinnacle of the OG design, made by experts and ready to be worn every day this spring (and beyond).

Got a couple grand to blow? Drake’s Heavy Suede Chore Coat is immaculately crafted in a gorgeous Italian crosta suede that will patina into a bona fide art piece…and make you the best-dressed guy in any room in the meantime.

More Chore Coats We Love:

A stark white, affordable chore coat — like this boxy offering from Rhythm — is a no-brainer for spring, sure, but we say give it a go in fall, too.

When it comes to traditional American workwear, you’re not gonna do a whole lot better than Dickies. And when it comes to Dickie’s interpretation of this traditional French style, well, you’re gonna wanna look to the brand’s Denim Chore Coat for some serious coatage. We’re especially fond of it’s oversized look and unlined denim finish.

Alex Mill’s Denim Work Jacket is just a bit of a cop-out for this list since it’s not technically a chore coat, but it’s French-inspired utility and classic vintage wash making it as close to the real thing as you’re going to get. It’s also just about the perfect weight for fall — not too thick, not too thin, and layer-able as all get out.

Heritage label Barbour is unparalleled when it comes to functional, classic-looking garments that will undoubtedly wear in beautifully. Much like their unrivaled waxed jackets, their take on the Chore Coat sports a handsome contrast collar and appropriately sized pockets, for all your potential goodies.

Alex Crane’s take on the Chore Coat is called the Kite Jacket, and it’s admirable in its simplicity, boasting a no-frills design and a relaxed, comfortable fit. It’s made from organic cotton that you can tell is going to get cozier and cozier with wear.

New England label Manresa has brought a refreshingly blue-collar spin to elevated workwear since its 2018 inception and their just-released chore coat is no exception. An homage to the 1950s grail jacket from French workwear makers LeBlanc, the 12 oz. 100% cotton bull denim jacket sports an old-school collar and cut-and-sewn finish for a chore coat unlike any other you’ll see on the subway.

You don’t have to be a lineman for the county to rock this ultra-hardwearing chore coat from heavy hitters Line of Trade, but if you happen to be, know that it’s sturdy workhorse canvas and double-needle stitching will ensure it’s the last on you buy for a looong time.

Less a chore coat and more a work of art, Bode’s Quilted Autumnal Jacket probably won’t wear in like your classic moleskin joint…and yet, we’re still considering dropping the bag and a half. Just look at it!

No wrinkles, no problem. Thanks, Wills.

J.Crew’s long-running in-house workwear brand Wallace and Barnes has been as instrumental as anyone in bringing the chore coat back to prominence, and their current version is exactly what it’s always been: simply designed, made of durable duck canvas, and available in a perfect Deep Rosewood vibrancy.

Patagonia is kind of an enigma — yes, it’s Fair Trade Certified and unlined for maximal layering, but it’s also made from a beefy 12.9-oz Iron Forge Hemp canvas. Basically, it’s good for sensitive guys and brain dudes alike.

Le Mont St Michel often gets held up as the epitome of the classic chore coat, and for good reason: made from a moleskin à la classic French workwear style — not to mention dyed in traditional bleu de travail — since 1913, it’s a respectable style for the real chore coat heads.

Who said chore coats can’t be interesting? Mr Porter’s in-house label Mr P provides a crisp, lightweight twill chore coat, with corduroy patches to boot.

When Wellen says blanket, they mean it — much akin to Outerknown’s best-selling Blanket Shirt, Wellen’s cozy chore coat style feels more like wearing a snuggly robe than a chic french work jacket. Bonus points for the striped jacquard pattern.

Love corduroy? Look no further than Portuguese Flannel’s Labura Coat for ultimate velvety vibes.

Todd Snyder’s sophisticated take on the chore coat features a premium Italian-milled wool-cotton-nylon blend, genuine horn buttons and not a whole lot else — just the way god intended.

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