Since the almost universal adoption of workwear by the trades, there have been a number of developments. Nowadays it is not all about practicality, writes PETER BRETT.
Some trades always had favourite kit styles, while there are now also favoured workwear styles - with oneupmanship on who has got the trendiest, coolest, most expensive workwear on site.
Workwear has also become cheaper and much more widely available via the ‘sheds’ and tool outlets, so it is not uncommon to see practical folk of all kinds dressing the part for gardening, working in the shed or doing domestic tasks in general.
The net result is workwear brands have had to join the endless cycle of launching a new range of clothes every season. So when the parcel of JCB workwear dropped onto my front doorstep. I was keen to see what was in it.
As I write, the weather here in the South East corner of England is doing its best to break sunshine records, so it is definitely T-shirt weather.
The 100% cotton JCB TRADE T-shirt in black and grey is a perfect solution here. I prefer natural materials for shirts as I find them more comfortable in hot weather, and they also serve as a nice underlayer in colder weather.
This shirt is well cut for ease of movement, with grey panels under the arms that allow easy movement when lifting or bending. It washes very easily too – because as a basic layer, most users would want to wash it regularly.
I ran it through several wash cycles and it came up fresh every time. Very comfy to wear and very practical, getting my thumbs up.
The JCB Essential Polo Shirt is smarter and appealed to me because it seemed better dress for working inside a client’s property, when a T-shirt might be a bit informal.
It is made with 65% polyester and 35% cotton, so will be wearable and crease-free straight out of the wash. The grey colour is very reminiscent of the grey doors, window frames and woodwork that are currently on trend so it should catch the zeitgeist.
Again, I found the generously cut shirt very comfortable to wear and quite lightweight in warm weather. I also liked the collar and short sleeves that provided some protection from the sun for my very sun sensitive skin when I worked outside.
Again, I ran it through several wash cycles and it came up smiling every time.
Sticking to Tops
Of course, we all know that a British Summer includes all the ups and downs of wind, rain, sun and possibly thunderstorms, hence it is as well to go out with layers of clothing so we can add and subtract to suit the conditions.
The outer layer of the selection I was sent has a long title – the JCB Trade Grey Marl Essington II Full Zip Jumper.
Made of 100% knitted polyester it immediately feels warm and cosy when you put it on, and has a pleasant weight to it that denotes the quality of the fabric from which it is made.
It is packed with little features that add up to a practical, and dare I say it, stylish garment that is very handy to have in the van for emergency warmth back up.
The jumper is largely made of a mottled grey knitted fabric with some stretch for comfort, with black nylon stretch panels under the arms and across the shoulders. There are reflective panels and a JCB logo across the shoulders and on the chest plus zipped pocket liners.
There are three zipped pockets, two on each hip and one on the chest. The two hip pockets are deep enough for a tape measure and pencils, as well as for keeping hands warm. The chest pocket is big enough for keeping a phone handy.
A full zip makes it easy to put on and to help regulate the temperature, while the waist has an elasticated draw cord.
A cosy bit of black fleece lines the funnel neck collar, and this helps to keep warmth in and rain out. The cuffs are also elasticated for a snug, draught-free fit, but they are loose enough to be comfortable and easy to put on.
Because of the warm weather I wore this jumper only a few times in the evenings. It is definitely smart and stylish, and the hi-vis flashes drew some comment about just how visible they are – these must be a safety plus then!
Nitty Gritty Shorts and Trousers
Unfortunately, my legs are now old enough to not be allowed out unaccompanied and I don’t generally like wearing shorts on site, because I prefer the extra protection offered by trousers.
My willing volunteer was 40 or so years younger than me and has no such qualms. After a couple of days, he reported back to me his findings on the JCB Trade Plus Shorts in Black/Grey.
The cotton/polyester (35%/65%) fabric proved to be comfortable and easy to wear – the shorts did not feel ‘sweaty’ as some 100% manmade fabrics can feel.
There are two hip pockets fronted by two bellowed holster pockets that are a must in any work trousers I use.
There is also a cargo pocket on the left leg for pencils or a phone with a Velcro fastener. On the back, there are two more pockets, one with a Velcro fastening and the other without.
With seven 20mm wide belt loops, a belt is easily and comfortably supported. My volunteer had enough pockets and a comfortable fit and cut to the shorts so he was keen to keep them…..
In my discussions with trades I have found work trousers can be an issue. They need to be comfortable and practical - but for some, also a bit fashionable. Pockets are another area of controversy – holster pockets or not? A big debate.
The JCB Trade Grey/black Cordura work trousers follow the current trend of being quite smartly cut as well as having enough space to be able to bend and move easily.
The Cordura material is used because it is breathable and comfortable as well as being hardwearing and rip stop.
On the front of the trousers alone there are two hip pockets, two multi-pocketed holster pockets, a Cargo pocket with Velcro closure, and a couple of leg pockets on the right leg.
Behind there are two more pockets, one with a Velcro closure – in short, wearers are spoilt for choice and if they filled all these pockets, the trousers would bulge like an overstuffed hamster – but with triple stitched seams there is no danger of splitting them.
I wore them for several days on site and in the workshop, and they proved to be comfortable and easy to wear.
The pockets are useful and since I tend to confine myself to carrying a tape measure, several pencils, a phone and maybe the odd pocketful of screws, I didn’t strain my belt on the seven belt loops.
With only one wash so far, they dried quickly on the rack, and were ready to use the following day.
Aimed at: Pros and amateurs looking for practical, stylish and reasonably priced workwear.
Pros: Easy to wear and care for, and will make a practical coordinated range to cover all weathers.
• Good fabrics
• Well made
• Will suit a range of trades and conditions
• Stylish with good colours
• Some hi vis safety in some garments
• Pockets aplenty!