Some of fashion’s most enduring everyday styles have hardworking origins. Most people are aware that jeans were originally intended for miners, but not everyone knows how chore jackets came to be. They originated in laborers’ uniforms of nineteenth century France, where sturdy twill fabrics, convenient pockets, and roll-up sleeves were more of a job necessity than a fashion statement. It took several decades for the light, boxy layers to be adopted into mainstream outerwear in the way of a wrap coat or a leather jacket. By the seventies, the patron saint of French Style, Jane Birkin, was often photographed wearing a little denim chore coat. Presently, they’re an option to re-consider as utility-inspired pieces rotate to the front of the trend cycle.
If you’re wondering how to wear a chore jacket here and now, let street style show you how. Fashion people loitered outside the shows this season in ecru twill and oversized, logo-stamped chore jackets, always with baggy jeans or trousers and an Hermès Kelly or Bottega Jodie in arm. Casual sightings are just as inspiring. On a late September trip to Paris, I counted no fewer than thirty women in a single day wearing denim, cobalt blue, or dusty mauve chore jackets over their denim. (Men wearing chore jackets were also in heavy abundance—this is a unisex staple, after all.) At one point, I couldn’t resist asking an impeccably dressed Parisian stranger where she found her best chore jacket. She raised her eyebrows and replied, “Oh, a store in New York City”—no specifics.
The exact chore jacket that stopped me in my flâneuse tracks will be a mystery. My consolation was hunting down ten more of the best chore jackets from Bode to Loewe to Carhartt to shop now—light utility layers that are so effortless, styling them is the opposite of work.