Why Wear Specialty Work Pants Instead of Jeans?

Worker in Dickies Pro work pants

You wouldn’t wear your everyday running shoes on the job site and expect them to keep you as safe or as comfortable as your specialty work footwear, so why are you wearing jeans sold for weekend leisure wear on the jobsite? While it’s true that blue jeans were the original work pants, the styles sold today are not designed as work wear. There are a few exceptions, such as the CAT Regulator Jean – which are made of thicker denim, reinforced stitching and are designed to fit over work boots without straining the fabric, but overall jeans are made as leisure or light work wear. Pants designed for work on the other hand, are made of better materials and are more able to withstand the abuse of daily wear on the job site.

What’s the Difference?

At first glance it may be hard to tell the difference between cargo pants made for leisure and ones designed for work – other than the higher price tag on the work pants. That higher price tag is indicative of the extra quality and durability that work-specific pants provide. Work pants are made of thicker material, that is double or triple woven to provide the best durability while still being flexible enough to work in. Most have a double-lined knee area because that is one of the stress points that will fail on non-work specific pants. Zippers on work pants are often stronger and made to last, so the tab on the zipper won’t break off after a few months of use. Work pants also tend to be waterproof or at least water-resistant and if not, are made of material that can be waterproofed as needed. The pockets on work pants are another place where the difference between work wear and leisure wear is apparent. The pockets on work pants are L-shaped and meant to hold things – and are reinforced so that when you clip on a tape measure, it doesn’t rip the pocket. The stitching on work specific pants is another area where you can easily tell the difference, as work pants are double and triple stitched while leisure wear is usually single stitched.

Put simply, work wear is just that – clothes that are designed to be worked in. Yes, it’s more expensive in the short term, but when you consider that a pair of work-specific pants can last up to 5 times longer than a pair of casual pants that cost half the price, it’s actually a wise investment over the long term to get pants that are designed to stand up to the rigors of daily wear.

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How do I make sure to get the right size?

To measure your feet:

  1. Get a blank piece of paper, a pencil and a tape measure.
  2. Stand with one foot on the piece of paper, and have most of your weight on your foot to simulate walking.
  3. Holding the pencil perfectly vertical and perpendicular to the paper, mark a line at the back of your heel and at the tip of your longest toe. Also mark a line along each side of the widest part of your foot.
  4. Measure length and width to the nearest 16th inch and subtract .20 to .25 inches, or .50 centimetres, to account for the width of the pencil.
  5. Find your corresponding size in the charts below.

A couple of tips to get the perfect fit:

  • Measure your feet later in the day as feet normally swell and can become up to half a size bigger in the evening.
  • Measure both feet and use the measurements of the biggest foot. Many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Wear the same type of socks you will generally be wearing on the job when you measure your feet.

Here are some general guidelines to assess fit once you’ve received your new boots:

  • Try on new boots towards the end of the day.
  • Walk around in a clean environment for a couple of hours to make sure the boots are comfortable.
  • Try boots on both feet, as many people have feet that are different sizes.
  • Boots should fit snugly around the heel and ankle when laced.
  • The inner side of the boot should be straight from the heel to the end of the big toe.
  • The boot should grip the heel firmly.

Measuring apparel for proper fit

Size X-Small Small Medium Large X-Large 2X-Large 3X-Large
Neck - Inches 13-13.5 14-14.5 15-15.5 16-16.5 17-17.5 18-18.5 19-19.5
Neck - Centimetres 33-35 36-37 38-39 41-42 43-44 45-47 48-50
Chest - Inches 30-32 34-36 38-40 42-44 46-48 50-52 54-56
Chest - Centimetres 76-81 86-91 97-102 107-112 117-122 127-132 137-147
Waist - Inches 27-28 29-31 32-34 36-38 40-42 44-46 48-50
Waist - Centimetres 68-71 73-78 81-83 91-96 101-106 111-116 121-127

Hint: For the most accurate results, measure yourself in your undergarments.

  • Neck: Measure around the base of your neck, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your neck to allow ease in fit.
  • Chest: Measure around the fullest part of your chest, keeping tape firmly under your armpits and around your shoulder blades.
  • Waist: Measure around your waist, slightly below your natural waist, where you normally wear your pants. Insert your forefinger between the tape and your body to allow ease in fit.
  • Sleeve length: Bend your arm slightly. Measure from centre back neck, across your shoulder, down to your elbow, down to your wrist.
  • Hip: Measure around the fullest part of your hips, inserting your forefinger between the tape and your hip to allow ease in fit.
  • Inseam: Measure a similar pant that fits you well. Measure along the inseam, from the crotch seam to the bottom of the hem.

Between sizes?

If your measurements are in between those listed in the size chart, pick the next larger size.