Women's work wear has come a long way, but there are still tons of ways to improve! It seems to be a constant debate with my work colleagues and on the internet about which brands to buy and why. There is also the debate of "Should I just buy men's clothes and deal with it?". So I finally decided to put myself to work and test out some of the more popular and favorite work wear brands! This article is just based on pants because those are the worst fitting things for females in my experience.
What goes into making work wear for women?
Why is it so hard to make industrial work wear for women, and what is the big deal? Ever since women started becoming more involved in different industries, there has been a struggle to find proper fitting work wear and PPE. From the historic Gold Rush in the Yukon to NASA asking Sally Ride if 100 tampons was enough for 1 week, women in non-traditional fields have often been overlooked and misunderstood.
In almost every department store, you see different sections for Men & Women's clothing. This is because each gender tends to require a different fit for their bodies. However, when it comes to more industrial work wear and PPE, most women are forced into wearing men's clothing because it's difficult or expensive to find women's workwear. This isn't just a comfort thing however, it can also be a safety issue. Often men's clothing is big and bulky on women because of the different fit, and this can result in clothing getting caught in equipment, tripping over too-long pant legs, etc. Check out this article if you're interested in learning more about women's workwear!
Luckily, women are becoming more "traditional" in the non-traditional fields and there are tons of amazing companies emerging with great options for workwear for women. Many of these are designed by women, for women, which means they have the comfortable and safe fit that most women are looking for. It's very exciting to see how far work wear has come, and imagine the future of it!
These reviews are based off of my personal experience with these brands, none of them paid me to say anything. That would be super cool though if you know of any work wear brands looking for testers! It's also important to remember that all brands fit differently, what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Also these are listed in no particular order. I also asked some of the smaller businesses for discount codes, so be sure to use those if you're interested in getting yourself a new pair of work pants!
I used to basically LIVE in my Rosie's overalls! It was what I wore for a long time working at the Orphan Girl Mine as a tour guide as well as what I wore for most of my first year at my current full time job. I also still keep a pair ready at home for home projects. I love their positive social media presence and their Dirtiest Rosie competition every year!
Cost- $78-95, I always liked the "Rosies Professional" overalls ($90)
Pros- Super comfortable, tons of fun color options to choose from, adjustable waist buttons, double stitched, knee pad pockets, thick elastic straps, not too thick material so you keep pretty cool, lots of pockets, fast shipping! The Professional overalls are also water resistant.
Cons- These overalls are pretty thin which is nice for comfort, however I always seemed to rip them in just a few months. Even with patching they always only lasted me 5-7 months at my job. I also had a lot of trouble with the plastic overall clasps, they could be difficult when getting dirt and dust in them.
I bought the Dickies straight leg cargo pants around the second year I was working for the mine and used the brands pants for about a year. This is the most affordable workwear on this list, however I did tend to go through a lot of pairs of pants working my particular job.
Cost- $25-75, relaxed cargo pants ($35)
Pros- The pockets on these are amazing, nice size and plenty of them. Several color options, super comfortable fit, very affordable, dried pretty quickly.
Cons- I would DESTROY these pants after just a few months at work so I cycled through them pretty quickly. The thighs would rip out, the seat area would fall apart, etc. I also noticed if I got caught on something like a wire, one small rip would very quickly turn into a large one if I didn't take care of it right away. They also don't sit as high as I would like for work on my waist.
More info: Website
I bought the Carhartt Original Fit Crawford Pant and honestly, these are the pants that I wear every day at work (although that may change after this article!). I used to generally steer clear of Carhartt, their women's clothing never fit right and the men's clothing I could barely walk in. I was super surprised when I tried on these pants about a year ago, I ended up buying three pairs and have been working in them ever since!
Cost- $45-90, Crawford Original ($45)
Pros- Soft material, comfortable fit, durable, lots of pockets! These pants come in short, regular, tall, and plus sizes with plenty of options to fit everyone. Mid rise and triple stitched seams, also affordable. Carhartt is also available in many large stores, so they're easy to find if you need some pants quickly.
Cons- I do still tend to rip the thighs out of these ones, but they're much more durable than the Dickies and worth the extra cost in my opinion. A little rigid at first, but very comfortable after some wear.
More info: Website
Red Ants Pants
I specifically bought these pants to write this article. I have been keeping an eye on these pants for a long time since they are designed by women in Montana and made in the USA. I have never bought them before because I don't seek them out in stores to try them on, but to write this article I made sure to check out their super handy sizing guide. I ordered the Curvy Original work pants.
Cost- A bit on the more expensive side, these pants are $139. But remember- they're USA based for making their products as well as the material sourcing
Pros- USA made, thick cut resistant material, 2 different style options (Straight and Curvy), mid high waist but higher back rise for full coverage, a few pockets, and designed in Montana! They're also super durable and warm. Super fast shipping!
Cons- Only one color, I would prefer to see a black or gray pant personally. I ordered the "curvy" style and still should have ordered a size up, the pants fit nicely but definitely need some breaking in for maneuverability (*note- the material does soften up after a few washes and some wear).
Want to try them out? Enter coupon code "ForWomen" at checkout for 15% off your entire online order through February 28! Start shopping here!
This is a company I found out about while doing research for this article, and it's another one I'm really excited about! I accidentally ordered the wrong size, but was a bit overwhelmed testing out all these clothes anyway so one of my amazing coworkers stepped in to try these out for me and liked them a lot! *UPDATE- I recently purchased a pair of Dovetail's Christa DIY Pant, and these are seriously a game changer! I have worn them to work for 2 weeks and they are still holding up, but I do prefer them more for work around the house and just wearing them instead of jeans. The fabric itself is amazing and stretchy, they have tons of great sized pockets, and an elastic waistband! I highly highly recommend these!
Cost- $69 - $99, I ordered the Britt Utility in Gray ($89)
Pros- Fit is really nice, thin pocket just for pencil so they don't fall out is awesome, mid rise waist, offers a lot of style and color options, soft and strong fabric, double front thigh and knee fabric, many options for size and inseam so you get the perfect fit, fast shipping
Cons- A few more larger pockets would be nice, I can hardly fit my phone in them. Also the thighs are a bit tight.
Want to check them out? Get $10 off your first purchase when you sign up for their Newsletter!
This is a company out of Australia making women's clothing, and they happen to ship to the US! I bought their Cuffed Stretch Utility Work Pants in black, but they have a ton of different clothing options. Pants, shirts, jackets, overalls, and even shorts! They even have a work skirt with pockets if you're feeling extra fashionable.
Cost- AUD $115 with AUD $20 shipping to the US ( USD $104.88 total)
Pros- Lots of pockets, and like real size pockets! Pencil pockets on the right, as well as a zipper cargo pocket on the left big enough to fit my phone (which I love so it doesn't fall out). The thighs are a bit looser but are fitted from the knee down, which works perfect for me because I usually tuck my work pants into my boots. Double kneed and triple stitched. On the back there is also a "cinch strap" thing so you can tighten that for a really great fit. Comfortable fabric with stretch for movement. Plenty of colors and styles available. They also have compostable packaging which is awesome!!
Cons- The pair I bought was a bit lower rise than I usually get for work pants, and I'd prefer big pockets on both legs rather than just the one (if you're like me, maybe check out the Hero style). International shipping takes quite a while, so be sure to buy a couple of pairs at once or know when to re-order.
Want to check them out? Use their new customer code of "welcome10" at checkout for 10% off your order! They also have some great "Back to Work" bundles available right now under the Sale tab!
I also just wanted to put some HM's on here of websites that sell a variety of women's work clothing and shoes! There are a lot of work wear options that I didn't get a chance to try out for myself, but you can take a look around and find out what fits best for you!
Covergalls- I don't think it's even possible to be a women in mining and not know about Covergalls! They have a ton of great clothing options. Unfortunately they were sold out of my size in the pants I wanted while writing this though! Don't worry- I'll keep an eye out and get a pair next time they are in stock! (Instagram)
Bisley Workwear- This is another company with some great clothing options for women, and it's what my company tends to order which is why I didn't try them for this post. I know a few of my coworkers that wear them seem to really like them, especially since you can order them with reflective tape already on them.
CO Gear- This is another Australian company that I found browsing on Instagram, and I have been eyeing their Alice pants! They also make a whole maternity hi-vis line. Unfortunately they don't ship to the US, so if any of my Australian friends see this and want to send me a pair... *edit- They do have international shipping, it's just a special request! Send customer service an email to ask them about it!
TougHER- This is a brand I found while I was doing some research for this, and it looks like a great brand! I just ran out of pants budget before I found these so I will keep them on my radar and let you know if I try them!
Safety Girl- Tons of options from many different distributors! They also have their own boot line that is super cute!
Safety4Her- comfortable, high-vis clothing for women! Originally designed for ladies in the trucking and towing industry, but will work for women in all sorts of industries! I love the idea of high-vis leggings, and I will definitely be ordering a pair of their impact gloves.
Juno Jones Shoes- This is a women's shoe company I have been following for basically forever! The creator, Emily, is also the founder of Hazard Girls. Hazard Girls is a group for women working in non-traditional fields, and it is a great support group and inspiration. She took that idea and also turned it into a super cool podcast (Check out her interview of my coworkers and I!). I ordered my meti boot on Kickstarter a while back and I am so stoked to get them soon! (Get 10% off a pair when you sign up for the newsletter!)
Duluth Trading Co- This recommendation comes from the comments section! When I originally shared the article a lot of working ladies suggested the Duluth Fire Hose pants! There are a few options available, including Boot Cut and Skinny Leg. I haven't tried these yet personally but I can't wait to!
Tips for buying your workwear:
- I always tend to buy a size up from the suggested size on the website, I just find that it gives me more comfort room to move around.
- Don't be afraid to try it until you get it right! Most companies offer great exchange/return programs if you buy your clothing online. Remember- if you don't like the fit at home you probably won't like working in them.
- Most women in "tougher" fields need tough clothing. I look for brands that have double stitching, reinforced thighs and seats, water resistant or quick drying, and thicker material. This helps me not go through as many pairs of pants and be more comfortable.
- Consider what's important for your job when picking out appropriate work pants. Do they need to be high-vis? Warm? Water resistant or quick drying? Extra pockets? Make sure you check around to see what fits your needs best.
- Overalls vs Pants- Overalls can be more comfortable and have more pockets than some pairs of pants, but keep in mind that they can be a bit of a hassle in certain situations (like using the restroom).
There has been a lot of effort in recent years to make proper fitting work clothing and shoes for women, and I am totally excited to see where this trend goes! Let me know some of YOUR favorite work wear companies so I can check them out!