The Complete Guide to Construction Work Clothes

Construction work clothes need to be durable, insulated, and practical, and a few brands stand out from the crowd. Carhartt and Berne are at the head of the pack, known for tough fabric, reinforced stitching, and extra pockets and loops for tools, belts and knives. But we’ve found a few other brands that are popular with men and women who work in the trades. In addition, outdoors sporting gear can make a good substitute since it offers breathable, flexible, durable options.

Your Go-To Guide to Construction Work Clothing  

5 people in overalls in black and white photo

There are two qualities to look for in clothing used when doing hard, dirty work: comfort and durability. Comfort includes having the pockets, zippers and snaps you need, but also having some flexibility in the fabric. Durability in construction clothes typically means the clothes have a riveted fabric that is reinforced or doubled, as well as the right material to withstand repetitive use and resist rips and tears.


Woman crafting wood

New fabrics are transforming the market for construction work clothes. Designers are using high-tech textiles to produce insulating and breathable work clothes. This typically surmounts to flexible clothing that allow workers to bend, stretch, and kneel. The ability to stay covered up with long sleeves, but still move and lift without restriction is a huge plus when working hard all day, outside or indoors. 

More consumers in the physical labor industries are choosing shirts that are lightweight and breathable. The fashion choices usually include pocketed work shirts in T-shirt style, either short or long sleeve, with features like roll-up sleeves and venting. The latest in long-sleeve work shirts includes cooling fabrics that are tough, stretchable, and allow for full days in the sun with UV protection. 


Man with overalls holding hockey stick

For men, a decent pair of briefs goes a long way. Free Range Boxer briefs combine the light feel of boxers and the coverage of tighty-whities, and this brand exudes comfort.

Insulating base layers are not recommended for construction worker clothes, at the risk of overheating, but for all-around needs we recommend durable construction pants from Carhartt, Berne, or Duluth Trading Company. The brand you choose has as much to do with sizing as it does with features.


When outside, exposure to wind, moisture, sun and cold can be damaging to skin. This issue is solved with a number of clothing options. Rain paints can serve to insulate from rain and sleet--plus they are easy to get on and off and lightweight to pack and store. Insulated coveralls have been the go-to for years, and these are built with tough, reinforced zippers and hoods. Insulated coveralls are the first line of defense against the cold, but can be combined with rain pants and gear to keep the rain out while providing an extra layer of insulation.

Women’s Clothing

Woman in overalls

Women’s construction work clothes can be a little trickier to find, although Frost Lake, Duluth Flex, and Armachilla are producing great options for warmth, sun protection, flexibility, and breathability. These brands have a full range of clothing options and sizing, so it’s getting easier to find options for women outside of Carhartt. Hooded, insulated jackets, fleece pullovers and cargo pants fit women and provide the toughness needed for days of remodeling, repairs and building.

Women’s gear choices are also improving because outdoor gear for hiking and biking is gaining ground. Rain gear, especially rain pants, and insulated jackets from outdoors outfitters can make excellent construction work clothing for women, and men too.

When finding construction worker clothing, shop in-store if possible to get the best fit. Army Surplus, sporting goods and outdoor stores have a decent selection. When you find what you like, however, the online options are by far the best place for a larger selection.