I could probably write a novel about this subject, so I’ll probably expand on this in future blog posts. Plus, I’m finding out about other brands all the time! There are so many resources and forums out there where ya’ll are discussing this topic – the Women+ in Theatre Facebook Group, the /BlueCollarWomen subreddit page, the #tradeswomenofig tag on Instagram – just to name a few.
It’s taken me some trial and error to find brands and fits that really work for my day to day movements. For reference, when I’m working in the paint shop – I’m on ladders and Genie lifts a lot, I carry a lot of buckets around, I move a lot of heavy scenery around the shop, basically – I’m bending over and doing squats all day. I’m sure ya’ll can relate.
I have to adapt my wardrobe for climate all the time. I live in Virginia where it can be 10 degrees F in the winter and 100 degrees F in the summer. Thankfully, I’m working in climate controlled areas most of the time, but it’s inevitable that I have to get a hoodie or jacket covered in paint. The best advice I can give on this subject is dress in layers. Sometimes, I’ll wear a tank top under a t-shirt and then wear a hoodie over top so I can peel off layers as I get into it. (Sorry welders who have to wear jackets outside in 100 degree weather).
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Alright, let’s get into specifics.
01. Carhartt Force Utility Knit Leggings – https://bit.ly/2G3j6CP
These leggings are truly life changing. They are a bit pricey, but they are extremely durable and handle a lot of wash cycles well (use your tumble dry cycle ya’ll!). The pockets on these fit my phone, keys, and wallet – I’m not a purse gal so these are perfect. I also like that I can clip my radio to them without the leggings slipping down my hip. Going to be real with ya’ll – I actually haven’t worn these in the paint shop because I’m so afraid of getting paint all over them. I typically wear these when I’m doing work around the house (we’re renovating our house right now, fun times), on load-in or strike days, or days where I know I’ll be super active and want my freedom to move around the way I want. I’d even recommend these for dead lift days at the gym. Oh also, they’d make great stage blacks. And on top of all that, my work boots don’t look weird with them! Good riddance to the awkward boot cut jeans!
02. Dovetail Workwear Britt Utility Pants – https://bit.ly/2MMP7zr
Don’t fret – Carhartt and Duluth Trading Co. don’t have to be only brands you hear about! Dovetail Workwear has a lot of durable, gender neutral, clothing that focuses on the material of the textiles and how they fit in all the right places. These utility pants are a great option if you’re not ready to board the legging bandwagon quite yet.
03. Jerzees Men’s Long-Sleeve Shirt – https://amzn.to/2Uz4H4y
Alright, being real – I’m not going to go buy expensive “women’s work shirts” all the time. And I’m not going to sit here and recommend products to ya’ll that aren’t affordable – I’m so sick of seeing influencers talk about $90 face oils like it’s no big deal. Anyways. Usually, I’m wearing some cheap shirts that I can get rid of in two years and not feel bad about. Most of my paint shirts are from Goodwill or USITT swag (thanks Altman and Clearwing for filling my wardrobe for the past 10 years!). The reason I recommend these shirts from Amazon is one, they are super cheap and Amazon Prime is too good to be true sometimes, and two – the elastic cuff on the end. Why don’t women’s long sleeve shirts have this feature?! I always look for the elastic cuff shirts because I can push up my sleeves to wash buckets or do whatever I need to do. Plus, the fit of these is just loose enough to work in comfortably, but not over-sized where it gets in the way.
04. Army Pants
I don’t have a link for these because I found mine in the paint shop in my high school, but hopefully you know what I mean when I say army pants. The ones with the giant pockets and drawstring cuffs at the bottom of the legs. I like having these around for a couple reasons. They are great for wearing over your nicer jeans or leggings that you don’t want to get dirty. The ability to cuff the bottom makes it awesome for walking over a drop or floor treatment that you’re painting without worrying about your pant leg being in the way. Also, you can literally fit 4-5 paintbrushes in the pockets of these. I just keep a pair of these in our shop at all times. The downside, sometimes the bagginess of these kind of suck if you’re maneuvering around in tight areas.
05. Bates Women’s Tactical Side-Zip Boot – https://amzn.to/2WAXu5Z
Okay, here’s the main reason I wanted to write this post. I love these boots so freaking much. (Huge thank you to Chris Rybitski for the initial recommendation). They have amazing tread, are super easy to take on and off (so convenient for working on floors and drops), contain my ankles so they don’t roll when I’m climbing ladders, and feel super light for boots. Here’s a couple things I do to make mine last longer and feel even better – buy some insoles (my favorite are Happy Step https://amzn.to/2D1Oei6) and spray the boots with Rustoleum’s Never Wet (https://amzn.to/2Gff8q5). With the Never Wet spray, I can scrub off dried joint compound or auto body paint if I ever wanted to. You have to re-apply the spray every 3 months or so. But anyways, back to the boots themselves. I have recommended these time and time again because they are that good. It’s worth noting that I’m typically standing on a concrete floor from 8 to 12 hours a day, so these babies have really stood up to all the crap I put them through. I used to wear Adidas sneakers at work, and although they were really nice, I knew I needed to invest in something better, so I went for it. That’s the best advice I can give about boots – give yourself the boots you deserve!! Check out Bates’ other boots if you’re looking for a composite or steel toe.
06. Carhartt Women’s Force Work Crew Socks –https://amzn.to/2DQFZHz
Okay, I have to do another Carhartt recommendation. I’ve struggled with finding the perfect work sock because companies think women look for fun colors over performance when it comes to crew socks. And plus, I am not wearing ankle socks with work boots – talk about chafing skin. I ordered a 3-pack of these socks in June 2017 (hello, summer stock) and mine are still doing great – no holes, no loose threads, and the elastic still keeps them up where they should be. They are just the perfect no fuss crew sock. I’m planning to order another 3 pack before the summer starts.
Okay, that’s all the recommendations I’m going to do in this post – stay tuned for another workwear post in the future! Also, get pumped for a post coming soon about my favorites in PPE (personal protection equipment).
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