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8 Different Types of Work Pants

Wearing work pants doing construction

When you need to work, having the right work clothing is absolutely essential. Do you have the right types of work pants for the jobs you need to do? There are many different work pant designs that are made for specific jobs and some that are suited to all jobs.

Get to know more about work pants so you can get the right pants for the job…no matter what job you’re doing.

When Cavemen Wore Pants

Ancient people wore pants, or at least leg coverings, back in the Stone Age. It was necessary to wrap leather and fur around the body and lash it into place using cords, and that goes for legs, too. After all, it was the Ice Age.

But from these early and rather humble beginnings, pants would take a long, long time to evolve.

Skirts, dresses and long tunics were far more popular throughout the ancient world than pants, which were worn as early as 300 B.C.E. in Europe and a few thousand years before that in Asia. The earliest people to wear pants regularly were the horse riders of Asian Minor. They roamed the region on horseback and wearing pants while sitting on a horse just made good sense.

People wearing work pants doing work

Other ancient cultures mocked pants upon first seeing them, particularly in classical Greece and Rome…where all the men wore togas. After all, they didn’t want to look ridiculous by wearing something silly like pants.

Pants and leg coverings continued to be worn throughout Europe and Asia, however, and soon it was quite common to wear tight-fitting hose or breeches under a long tunic. Eventually, pants became more substantial and they became much more popular in men’s fashion thanks to the rising popularity of the suit with a jacket and pants, a concept that was first widely seen in the 1700s.

Through the centuries, pants grew to encompass many different styles. Today, pants are made with all kinds of materials in all kinds of different looks. But which designs are made to be work pants and which ones should you be wearing for your job? It’s definitely worth finding the answers. When you’ve got the right pants, no job is too big or too tough.

Types of Work Pants

There are many types of work pants to try, many of which are designed specifically to take on certain jobs. Get the right work pants for the tough work that you’re going to be taking on or get the looks you like to show off a certain style. There’s a lot you can do with work pants, which are made to be well-designed and ready for anything.


Wrangler Authentics Men's Premium Relaxed Fit Straight Leg Cargo Pant, Anthracite Twill, 38W X 32L

Cargo pants are made with large thigh pockets and often, a hammer loop. Some cargo pants designs have extra pockets and loops and places made for storing things. These pants are designed to provide extra space to help you store your tools and materials, so these are a popular type of work pats.

Because cargo pants look stylish even outside of the work environment, cargo pants are seen often in the fashion world. Cargo pants have an overall loose fit for comfort and ease of movement. The large pocket on cargo pants gives them a distinct style. Cargo pants are a particular favorite among skateboarders.


Wrangler Authentics Men's Classic Carpenter Jean, Retro Stone, 36W x 30L

Made in durable fabric with a roomy, somewhat loose fit, carpenter pants always have a hammer loop. These pants are specifically made for carpenters and often have extra pockets and places to store tools. Carpenter pants might have multiple loops meant to hold specific types of tools used by carpenters, such as tape measures.

The loose fit makes carpenter pants comfortable and the durable design is made to be machine washable, wrinkle-resistant and tough. This makes carpenter pants popular as everyday casual pants. Many people wear them even when they aren’t working.


Dickies Men's Loose Fit Double Knee Twill Work Pant, Black, 32W x 32L

Dickies is famous for its original 874 work pant, one of the earliest styles the company made and one that has been perfected over the years. Dickies pants are designed for work and they’re made to take on all kinds of tough jobs.

Made with a blend of cotton and polyester, Dickies pants are durable, resistant to wrinkles and machine washable. They are also known for being stylish. Dickies pants can be worn for casual, business casual and semi-formal looks, as well as for work.

Double Knee

Dickies mens Tough Max Duck Double Knee Work Utility Pants, Stonewash Timber, 32W x 30L US

Double-knee work pants are made with reinforced knees. Many people spend a lot of time working on their knees for a living. For example, carpenters spend a lot of time doing work on their knees. The double knee design prevents wear and tear in this area and provides a little extra padding thanks to the two-layer design.

Double knee work pants are made to work hard. They’re designed with durable, thick material in somewhat loose-fitting designs that allow for easy movement. Double knee pants are sometimes worn as everyday casual wear but these are definitely designed to be work pants and they look like it.


Carhartt Men's Original Fit Work Dungaree Pant (Regular and Big and Tall), Deepstone, 33W X 32L

Traditionally made with woven cotton fabric, dungarees are made with wide leg openings that fit easily over work boots. These pants are made in a somewhat baggy design that is comfortable to wear.

By most definitions, dungarees are what many people would call bib overalls. However, the term can also refer to baggy work pants that have multiple pockets that don’t fit into any other pants style category.

Dungarees are a popular casual wear option as well, with many people wearing them even outside of working hours. They have a good casual look that is popular for outdoor gatherings.


Propper Men's BDU Trouser - Button Fly, Woodland, 100% Cotton, Large Regular

Fatigues are military pants worn by soldiers. They are made with cargo pockets, as well as additional tactical pockets, loops and compartments. These pants are made with highly durable fabric and often, they are made in shades of desert brown or olive drab green, or they’re made in camouflage patterns featuring shades of these colors.

Wearing fatigues and other military clothing as work wear or casual wear is a popular tradition in fashion that goes back to the 1500s and even earlier. Boots, cardigan sweaters and many, many other items of clothing appeared first in militaries and then moved into civilian fashion much later. Fatigues are made to do some of the toughest work, so they are ideal for taking on all sorts of different jobs.


Ariat Rebar M5 Slim Fit Durastretch Straight Leg Work Jeans for Men, Ironside, 34W x 30L

Jeans are high fashion these days, with multiple brands and designers releasing new expensive styles every single year. You can get them skin-tight or big and baggy, high-cut or low. But jeans were always designed to be strong work pants…and they are.

Jeans were famously invented by a tailor, Jacob Davis, and a retailer, Levi Strauss. The two men worked out a work pants design using copper rivets and chose to make the pants out of denim. That’s what you call a multi-billion-dollar idea.

Davis was tasked with making a pair of tough work pants for local miners near his Nevada business. The blue jeans he created along with Strauss became the work pants of choice not just for miners in Nevada but ranchers, farmers, railroad workers and people all over the U.S. Jeans quickly spread to workplaces everywhere as people learned that jeans were comfortable, durable and they looked good, too.

The tough denim fabric and strong design make jeans great work pants, though you want to stick to a more loose fit and straight-fit styles, rather than skinny and skintight styles.


Dickies mens Relaxed-fit Painter's work utility pants, White, 32W x 30L US

Painter pants are made in overall baggy designs with lots of pockets and loops to hold tools and gear. Painter pants are often white or cream-colored, the classic color for painter workwear. These pants made be made in many different types of materials but often, cotton canvas or denim is seen the most.

The earliest versions of painter pants were made with canvas, material that is highly water-resistant and extremely durable.

Wearing Different Types of Work Pants

There are lots of ways to wear work pants and lots of reasons why they can work for you. Wear them for style, wear them to do actual work, wear them because they’re durable and easy to wash. Once you start wearing them and playing around with different work pant styles, you’re going to want to try them all and expand your wardrobe to include these casual, durable, ready-for-action pants.

Fill your closet with options and you’ll be ready to take on any type of work…or make any kind of fashion statement.


Doing construction outside in work pants

Work pants are made with specific features and certain styling because they’re made with specific jobs in mind. Finding the right work pants is hard enough. You might still have many questions about the different types of work pants you can wear.

Get the answers to the most frequently asked questions and get to know everything you need to know to wear work pants well.

How should work pants fit?

There are lots of different styles of work pants so it’s hard to know how they’re supposed to fit. Should they sit low or high? Feel baggy or snug? Because there are so many different styles of pants, it’s hard to know whether you have a good fit or not because they aren’t all made to fit the same way. One pair of work pants might feel very different on your body from the next.

Look for certain markers on the pants that will let you know whether they fit your body property or not. First, the waist. Whether the waist sits low, high or somewhere in-between, it should fit around your body with no gapping or bunching. It should not pinch or pull your skin but it also should not be so loose that excess fabric is just flapping around.

Next, check the inseam area. This is in the inner thigh. Does a lot of fabric hang down between your legs? Or is the fabric too tight in this area? This part of the pants should fit close to your body without too much or too little fabric. You should be able to sit, stand and walk comfortably without the pants feeling uncomfortable in this area in any way.

How are the legs? Work pants should at least reach ankle length. This will give your legs coverage even if you’re wearing low-cut boots. Short work pants can leave your skin exposed to sparks, debris and other workplace dangers.

Will work pants shrink in the dryer?

Work pants are supposed to be tough and they’re going to get dirty because that’s really what they’re made to do. So they definitely won’t shrink when you put in the washer and dryer…right?

Wrong. Work pants that are made with cotton, wool, linen and other natural fibers, as opposed to synthetic materials like polyester, will absolutely shrink in the presence of heat. If you wash them in hot water or dry them at a high heat, your pants will most certainly shrink.

Machine wash and dry your pants in cool water and the lowest possible heat setting for the dryer. Otherwise, you do run the risk of getting shrinking work pants unless they are made 100 percent with synthetic materials only.

Even a small percentage of natural fibers can cause pants to shrink slightly, which might change the way they fit forever. You don’t want that because you need comfortable, well-fitting work pants that you can genuinely move and work in.

What are work pants made out of?

Work pants are made with all kinds of fabrics, both natural and human-made. Cotton is one of the most common work pant fabrics because cotton is used to make denim, cotton duck and canvas, all of which are durable fabrics that resist wear and tear. These materials are often used to make many different styles of work pants.

Synthetic materials, such as polyester and acrylic, are also commonly found in work pants. These materials add wrinkle-resistant and quick-drying properties that natural materials, such as cotton, do not have. Often, work pants are made in a blend of natural and synthetic materials to give the pants the best qualities of both types of fibers.


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