Friday, April 17, 2009

Consider the Object: The chore coat

A forgotten American icon, the chore coat was sported by everyone from workers:
Courtesy the LIFE magazine archive. celebrities:

Courtesy the the Selvage Yard.

And for good reason, basic clothing with smart design, made of tough denim with collars and cuffs made double or triple thickness would wear forever. Lined pockets with rounded corners made for easily accessible storage. Roomy sleeves with gusseted seams would fit over everything from a t-shirt to a wool sweater.

Today, the chore coat languishes in the shadow of its younger brother, the denim jacket, but it can still be found in the catalog of such stalwarts of the work wear world as Carhartt and Dickies. A version has even been made to fit the demands of firefighters. And in the realm of boutique Japanese brands, the coat is finding a new generation of adherents.

I've been trying to track down a vintage example of this coat for day-to-day wear. In spite of the cachet of vintage denim, you can find these on ebay for 20-40 dollars. However, when this deadstock 60's coat came up, I had to pull the trigger. Even this pristine example ended up on my doorstep for less than $50. This is one great coat, and even the comment I got while wearing it to the grocery store late at night ("Where did you do time?") hasn't put me off of it quite yet.