The French Chore Jacket
It’s no secret—we love this thing. It’s versatile, looks cool, and has a rich history. Its French name, bleu de travail, translates to “working blues”, which is fitting, as the chore jacket was originally designed to be worn by railway workers, farmers, and factory workers in France in the late 1800s. It wasn’t until the bleu de travail made its way to the U.S. that it would be called the “chore jacket” or “chore coat”. As its name suggests, the jacket was worn by working people—doing ‘chores’ like farming and laboring.
This was a practical piece. Simplistic in design, the fit was slightly loose and boxy so they could be worn as a protective layer over other clothes, there were buttons at the sleeves for an easy roll up, and pockets could be found throughout the piece for storing tools and loose parts. As for the bleu, prior to the 1800s, blue and violet dyes were hard to come by and were reserved for monarchs and the wealthy. As France became more industrialized, indigo was made more accessible and became so inexpensive that it became the go-to dye for all workwear. In the factory, it was an indication of where you stood in line—superiors wore grey and white pieces while laborers wore the blue versions. Traditionally made from thick cotton drill or moleskin (a thick and soft cotton), these jackets were made to withstand wear from physical labor, and any holes were patched with other pieces of cotton. Today, it’s these mended and repaired jackets that are considered more valuable for their uniqueness and history.
What was once worn as functional workwear, now serves as inspiration for many modern brands like J.Crew and Gap. It’s a staple in any wardrobe, but there’s nothing like the real thing—worn and faded, with stories to tell. So, how do you wear one? However you’d like, paired with whatever you’d like. Really. You could throw it on over anything and you can be sure it’d work. Take a look at some of the inspiration photos we’ve found below, then check out some of the chores we’ve collected for the shop.