Workwear Buying Guide

Workwear protects you against hazards and keeps you comfortable. This workwear buying guide will help you choose a work clothes wardrobe that gets the job done.

Workwear 101

Your work clothes hold the key to a successful day on the job. Whether you’re a contractor, machine operator, house painter or welder, your workwear is as much a tool as any shovel, brush or backhoe. Being properly outfitted means having workwear that meets the exact needs of your assignment. You may require a loose fit for freedom of movement, deep pockets to carry tools or extra layers for added warmth. Advanced technical fabrics offer improved resistance against flames, stains, wrinkles and water. 

Workwear Essentials


Work Shirts & Tees

A good work shirt fits comfortably, doesn’t chafe or bind when you’re active and meets all the performance needs of your job and work environment. Your workwear wardrobe should include an assortment of medium and heavyweight work shirts to accommodate every season. Today’s work shirts are made of durable cotton and cotton-synthetic blends that vent heat and moisture, resist stains and wrinkles and are cut for full range of motion. For maximum comfort, you can’t beat cotton tees and traditional denim shirts.

Work Pants & Shorts

Your work pants do more than cover your legs. They’re also a shield to deflect the dirt, grease and fluids you encounter during a typical workday. Stain-resistant work pants made of reinforced cotton duck are a great choice for tough, in-the-trenches duty. Work pants made of cotton-synthetic blends hold their shape and launder easily. They're well suited for jobs that require you to spend time in both the office and the shop floor. For long-lasting wear, look for work pants with double-stitched seams and strong fasteners. The cut you choose should provide freedom of motion without being too loose. Shorts offer the greatest ease of motion. Cargo pants are ideal when you need extra pockets for storage. 

Overalls & Coveralls

Overalls and coveralls are tough, roomy and have plenty of pockets and loops to hold small items and larger tools. Working with water, paint and other liquids often calls for total body coverage. The traditional bib-style overall provides coverage up to mid-chest but leaves the arms and shoulders exposed. Coveralls go the distance, providing coverage from head to toe. Coveralls feature a front zipper for easy on and off. Disposable coveralls often include a hood and should have elasticized cuffs at the wrists and ankles. Some painters prefer the reusable cotton canvas body suit with stand-up collar for total body coverage and comfort indoors and out. 

Work Boots & Shoes

Steel toe boots with oil-resistant lug soles and puncture-proof inserts are mandatory on somejob sites. Look for the CSA Greenpatch indicating the footwear meets industry standards for construction safety. The ESR (Electric Shock Resistant) designation means the boot is insulated with a protective liner and safe for electrical work. Your work boots and safety shoes should be waterproof. Some will have padded collars to reduce friction and cushion the Achilles tendon. Look for memory foam insoles for a more custom fit. High-top (8”) work boots are the best choice for all-around protection. Low-cut steel toe shoes leave the ankle exposed but are cooler and better suited for stationary tasks or just navigating work zones. 

Socks & Underwear

Dry feet are happy feet, and the right socks can keep them feeling fresh all day. Cushioned work socks should have reinforced heels and toes to eliminate pressure points and ensure lasting comfort. Hypo-allergenic materials can prevent common conditions related to heat and other foot stress. Thermal socks and thermal underwear are indispensable for working outdoors in late fall and winter. The latest technical fabrics help keep you warm by wicking away moisture. They also provide a more personalized fit than traditional wool socks and long johns.

Safety Clothes

Visibility and workplace safety march in lockstep. Depending on your work environment, you may be required to wear high-visibility safety apparel (HVSA) in the form of a vest, soft-shell windbreaker, hoodie or overalls. HSVA clothing is trimmed with retroreflective tape or fluorescent stripes. High-visibility clothing may not be required for your job every day, but a basic reflective traffic vest is a lightweight, versatile item to add to your workwear wardrobe. Experts recommend that safety garments provide 360° coverage of your torso and that reflective stripes or bands be visible from all angles.

Safety Gear

Exposure to airborne worksite construction debris, noise and vapours can add up to health issues over time. It’s best to take precautions by wearing appropriate safety gear, including a dust mask, earplugs and safety glasses. If your work requires that you wear a hard hat, buy one that fits comfortably so you don't feel like taking it off. A lightweight, disposable dust mask with elastic straps plus eye protection forms an effective barrier to tiny but common irritants such as sawdust and gypsum powder.

Workwear Accessories

Handling rough building materials can take a serious toll on bare skin, and even a minor injury can impair your skills or put you behind schedule. The latest work gloves fit like a second skin, with rubberized palms and elasticized backs to keep you cool and prevent slippage.If you work outdoors, sun protection is essential to protect your skin from overexposure to UV rays. A cap keeps harmful rays off your head, shields your eyes and repels debris. Sunglasses with unbreakable lenses provide thorough eye protection.


Hospital-style scrubs fit loosely for greater comfort and complete freedom of movement. They’respecially designed to allow airflow, which helps you stay cool in warm work environments and stressful situations. While scrubs were initially associated with the healthcare profession, they're becoming increasingly popular in other work settings such as food service and manufacturing. They’re also great for casual wear. You can buy scrubs with colourful prints and patterns for relaxing at home or the cottage. They also make terrific pajamas.

Workwear Safety Tips:

• Oversized or loose workwear can get snagged on equipment
• Choose high-visibility apparel appropriate to the lighting conditions
• Make sure workwear stress points can withstand extreme use
• Ensure that any required workwear complies with workplace regulations
• Keep vision, hearing and lung protection items on hand at all times

Workwear Features

Insulated Linings +

Flannel, quilted and polyester fleece are the most common types of insulated linings found in workwear. Each is effective in its own way. Flannel-lined shirts and windbreakers can handle cool mornings in the spring and fall. Quilted linings are slightly warmer, and fleece liners are often one element in a multi-layer wardrobe system that includes a waterproof outer shell and detachable sleeve. New synthetic textiles with superior moisture-wicking qualities offer the promise of dryness and warmth without weight.

Materials +

Like everything else, workwear is benefitting from advances in technology. Today's high-quality workwear is flame-retardant, stain resistant, wrinkle-free and waterproof. The payoff for you is work clothing that delivers the protection you need, while also offering comfort, durability and easy maintenance. Of course,you can still choose workwear made from affordable, durable cotton duck,cotton flannel, denim, leather and synthetics like polyester and nylon.

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Workwear Buying Tips:

• Make sure workwear features match the needs of the job
• Stain-resistant workwear will last longer and look better
• Some advanced technical fabrics claim to be heat-resistant and non-flammable
• Cotton duck workwear is hard-wearing, water-resistant and multi-purpose
• Authentic safety footwear should be properly tagged as standards-approved
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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