Gentlewoman style: what’s the deal with chore coats?

Vetra chore coat women

“I don’t need any more jackets!”

“You’ll wear it loads!”

This was the conversation between Dave and I in The Conran Shop a few weeks ago. I’d clocked a cobalt blue cotton twill workwear jacket by Vetra and he insisted I try it on. It was one of those Bill Cunningham-esque utility jackets, the kind I see on lots of guys I know, who look great in them. But you don’t often see them on women. (Or so I thought.)

So I bought it.

And the funny thing is, it turns out I’m not the only one. In an entirely coincidental Instagram DM exchange, with regular DRG reader, Sally K, she revealed she too had bought a ‘chore coat’, to give it its proper moniker. Hers was by Laboureur. She also spotted some at Labour & Wait (who sell their own version), and mentioned that Vetra had once done a collab with Margaret Howell (who we both love). Well of course they had!

For me, it’s interesting that the chore coat hasn’t really been taken up by womenswear designers. Yet, the appeal is immediate. It usually comes in blue cotton twill to withstand arduous manual work, having been worn by 20th century French construction workers, mechanics and the like. Their rugged but lightweight construction is built for inclement weather, but, a bit like denim, you can imagine the fabric softens somewhat with age. Three patch pockets will carry whatever 21st century tools you need for your everyday carry, from phone to wallet, to AirPods, to protein bars.

What I also like is the potential for dress-up. The cobalt ‘Bugatti blue’ is really something, a much bolder hue than denim. I wear mine with faded Gap green combats and a silk Dior square, or Margaret Howell spotty rectangle scarf. I like a polished Church’s Derby or leather flat sandal, plus my Margiela ring bracelet and a classic leather bag.

Women’s chore coats aren’t easy to track down but seek and ye should eventually find. Aside from the authentic Vetra (I wear a size 36), try Carrier Company for a cheery tomato red and keep checking Madewell and Everlane. And eBay and Etsy for vintage, of course. If you have any other tips, leave them below!

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WORDS AND IMAGE: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
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