1910s Men’s Working Class Outfits

The Edwardian working class men had to wear second-hand or very cheap ready-made clothes. Men’s work clothing was dark, loose and most importantly, must be durable. Working class clothing was mainly practical with little emphasis on style. Second-hand clothing styles were based on late Victorian and the early 20th century designs, but with minor modifications. Middle classes or management men can wear suits and ties to distinguish themselves from lower-class workers. Hence the term “blue collar worker”. A gentleman was the only one who can afford to wear perfect clothes. Often, the only difference between the upper and lower classes was the material and fit. Men often wore the same clothes after work and only wore their best clothes for church and special occasions.

For a working-class man, two pairs of trousers, two or three shirts, a vest, a light jacket, a heavy jacket, one or two hat, a belt, and a pair of boots constituted a decent wardrobe for them. Men’s overall were loose that to ensure maximum movement and comfort in labor-intensive occupations. Men’s work pants were usually made of wool tweed, corduroy, cotton drill and duck cloth or denim. The pockets of overalls were large enough to hold all kinds of tools. There were also button-on suspenders, and in later years they became popular with men who did not wear vests or jackets in the summer. The front of a man’s work shirt had a long placket down with a pullover pattern in the middle, rather than a full button-down oxford shirt. 

The men’s workwear were available in dark grey, navy blue, black, khaki and brown. Railroad workers often wore vertical engineer stripes or tartan plaid, which became an acceptable winter shirt in the later years. Men of higher class wore ties, while working men wore a thin scarf loosely around their neck. The distinctive item of the working-class man was a full vest. A post-war supply of leather jackets and leftover khaki woolen vests started a new trend in men’s vested jackets. The sleeves were added to the vest, making it a casual yet very warm and affordable working-class jacket.

Some upper-class men wore this vest jacket for sport clothes. The other jackets of the working class were lightweight working clothes. People in lower professions wore similar jackets made of denim, wool or cloth in dark colors. In colder weather, the sheep lined jackets or mackinaw coats were the better choices for workers. Roll-neck knit sweaters and cardigans were favored by most men. Fishermen often wore knit sweaters, especially after the war, when men got used to the sweaters provided by the army, and wearing sweaters as overalls became more and more popular. Although the color was still dark, it had gradually added some bright colors, such as maroon, blue, gray and green.

The most conspicuous feature of a worker was his hat. The bowler or a fedora hat was usually worn by gentlemen and men in higher professions, while working-class men often wore a cap. The cap worn by workers was cheaper than other hats. In winter, hat makers used heavy cloth or fur with fold-down flaps to keep ears warm. Fishermen and farmers usually wore the bucket hat to protect them from the sun and rain.