Words: MASONRY Magazine
Photos, Carhartt, Dickies, dima_sidelnikov, Duluth Trading Co., Patagonia, REI, TOPO,
While mason contractors can turn to OSHA for guidance on any number of jobs-related issues, there are generally few requirements when it comes to workplace attire. That being said, investing in job appropriate shirts and pants contributes not only to an improvement in professional appearance but also to an overall safer environment by protecting workers from or preventing workplace injuries.
According to career mason and author Richard T. Kreh in his book, “Safety for Masons” (Ref. 3), there are several steps that bricklayers can take when considering workplace attire and safety. His recommendations include:
- Wearing long pants made of durable or heavyweight material to protect the lower extremities from sharp objects or rough materials.
- Avoiding cuffing pants or shirtsleeves, which can get caught on scaffolding.
- Always wearing a shirt to protect from flying masonry chips or other jobsite hazards.
- Dressing for the environmental conditions and taking care to avoid bulky or loose garments, which can present a hazard while performing work duties.
While proper jobsite attire is clearly an important consideration for any career mason, actually investing in the right shirts and pants can become a daunting task. With literally hundreds of different brands featuring different sizes and features, many bricklayers are left frustrated, scratching their heads, and wondering how they can make their favorite pair of Levi’s last another year. In an effort to demystify the world of workwear, MASONRY Magazine has broken down our list (in no particular order) of affordable recommendations for rugged, dependable, and safe workplace shirts and pants.
The “Top” Tops
Carhartt Force Class 2 Hi-Vis T-Shirt and Class 3 Hi-Vis Long Sleeve Shirt
Hi-Visibility clothing and equipment is an essential part of, and a common sight on the jobsite. The importance of being easily and clearly seen while heavy machinery is in operation is crucial and at times overlooked when other, more pressing issues arise throughout the workday. Rather than trying to chase down and keep track of flimsy vests that constantly need to be replaced, career masons can show up to work with their Hi-Vis built right into their shirt.
Both the Carhartt Force Class 2 and Class 3 feature comfortable, sweat-wicking bird’s eye knit fabric made of 100% polyester for superior breathability and durability. With a relaxed fit, FastDry®, and Stain Breaker® technology for premium performance, both shirts are made of ANSI Class 3, Level 2 compliant 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material, and are absolutely built to last. Consider investing in both the short- and long-sleeved versions for year-round high visibility options. Colors, pricing, and sizes are available at https://www.carhartt.com/.
Dickies Temp-iQ™ Performance Cooling T-Shirt
Keeping cool on the jobsite is a tough challenge, especially for those mason contractors in warmer southern climates where temperatures can reach a scorching 100℉+ in the summer months. Dressing for the heat can be particularly tricky when trying to balance skin protection and the threat of heat stroke, which means a Performance Cooling T-Shirt can literally save the day.
The Dickies Temp-iQ™ Performance Cooling T-Shirt is made from a specially designed soft jersey blend of 50% polyester and 50% cotton. By trapping cool air inside the fabric and keeping it close to your skin, sweat and rising body temperature actually trigger the fabric’s cooking effects. The design features raglan sleeves for improved mobility, as well as dynamic moisture-wicking technology. Available in a wide variety of colors and sizes including Big & Tall options, pricing and availability can be found at https://www.dickies.com/.
Duluth Trading Co. Men’s Flapjack Fleece-lined Shirt Jac
Nothing is worse than fumbling around with numb fingers while trying to complete intricate masonry work. Cold weather not only kills productivity- but it also kills jobsite morale as well. Thankfully dressing for the weather does a lot to beat the cold, especially in a fleece-lined button-down like the Duluth Trading Co. Men’s Flapjack Fleece-lined Shirt Jac. This warm and cozy work shirt features a 100% cotton flannel outside and 100% polyester fleece inside and is designed to keep your body warm, but not overheated.
Free-moving armpit gussets provide a wide range of motion without bunching and the snap front and cuff design allow for quick release, giving the design an added element of additional safety. The Duluth Trading Co. Men’s Flapjack Fleece-lined Shirt Jac also includes pockets galore, including fleece-lined hand warmer pockets for quick finger defrosting on those chilly fall mornings as well as a hidden pencil pocket. For those of you who really need that extra cozy layer to help you roll out of the truck for a 5 AM Toolbox Talk, this rugged flannel will be a great fit! Sizes, colors, and prices available at https://www.duluthtrading.com/.
Patagonia Men’s Iron Forge Hemp® Canvas Double Knee Pants – Regular
At $79, these are an excellent value and a great option for a masonry student or apprentice- or any career mason looking to get some serious miles out of their work pants at a great price. The Patagonia Men’s Iron Forge Hemp® Canvas Double Knee Pants are designed to survive even the toughest job conditions with their highly abrasion-resistant 12.9-oz Iron Forge Hemp™ canvas construction and doubled knees for reinforced durability. Additionally, the wide leg design easily accommodates knee pads, simple clean out, and can fit easily over work boots.
The design includes a gusseted crotch for a wide range of comfortable movement, as well as deep front and back drop-in pockets for anything from twigs to utility knives, or anything else you need to keep close by while hard at work. The PatagoniaMen’s Iron Forge Hemp® Canvas Double Knee Pants are 25% more abrasion resistant than conventional cotton duck canvas, and even the waistband is reinforced for increased durability and carrying capacity. If you need an affordable option to replace those worn-out work pants, these are definitely one to seriously consider. Sizes and pricing available at https://www.patagonia.com/.
Professional and Functional
TOPO Designs Duck Canvas Work Pants- Men’s
For career masons and mason contractors who are needed both on the wall and in the boardroom, the TOPO Designs Duck Canvas Work Pants are a great solution for a seamless transition from the jobsite to a professional meeting. With a straighter fit than the Patagonia Double Knee Pants, these certainly look sharp, but with double front panels, triple-stitched seams, and heavy-duty duck canvas construction these are rugged enough to handle even the messiest jobsite conditions.
The design features patched-on pockets with reinforced double-front panels, as well as reinforced back pockets, which means you never have to worry about rips or tears from bending down and checking your work. The best part about the TOPO Designs Duck Canvas Work Pants is definitely the additional value of workwear that can easily do double duty, and while $149 is a little steeper than the other options on this list, the high quality means they are an investment that will last. Available sizes, colors, and prices at https://topodesigns.com/.
REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants – Men’s
If you are having a difficult time giving up the work jeans, think about how heavy they can be during those hot summer months. The men’s REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants- Men’s are designed to fit and feel comfortable like your favorite pair of work jeans but are better designed for the summer heat. The tough and durable blend of cotton and polyester with an innovative touch of spandex means these work pants not only wick away moisture, but also have an added stretch not afforded by other duck canvas pants or stiff thick jeans.
Like the other work pants on this list, the REI Co-op Trailsmith Pants- Men’s have double layer fabric reinforcements at the knees, but these go beyond to also reinforce the thigh area to withstand repetitive abrasion. Featuring an added drop-in tool pocket on the side and pencil pocket at the thigh, as well as hand and back pockets, these pants will keep you organized and productive the whole day through. When paired with the Dickies’ Temp-iQ™ Performance Cooling T-Shirt, you’ll be able to breeze through the toughest summer season on the job. Available colors, sizes, prices, and other information at https://www.rei.com/.
Sometimes it takes something as simple as arriving on time, with the appropriate tools, and being properly dressed to set you apart from the rest. Not only will investing in a professionally appropriate wardrobe provide you with additional safety and security on the job, but it can even be the extra edge to help you rise through the ranks of your organization. As you can see from this list, it doesn’t have to be incredibly expensive or even remotely difficult to find some great options, so why not start now? With summer around the corner and warmer weather ahead, be sure to invest in some high-quality work gear to start the season off right! You won’t regret it.