Building A Collection of 40s Working Wear

For some, everyday vintage can be a sharp blouse and a skirt, others a trim cotton day dress. For me, my real everyday vintage really ought to be denim pants, rugged blouses, and overalls that I can pull on.  However, those pieces are not always the most fun to wear (but they are surprisingly fun to make, and easy too! So easy!). For my average everyday working life I wear 40s style jeans and lots of cotton blouses and lots of plain modern long sleeves t shirts. I started to build a vintage style working wardrobe a couple of years ago to compliment my other vintage and to replace my modern stuff that I had worn through. So how did I start with building my own vintage 40s work wear that I have now been actually able to wear and still work in changing tires, changing oil, ripping out weeds, and doing much more? Keep reading and I will happily tell you all the (not too gory) details.  . . .
Some of my 40s work wear from the 2018 blueberry season.
pants and blouse from 40s patterns
Another light working outfit with a bit nicer blouse and denim pants.
Blouse and pants from 40s patterns. 

To start, I took some serious inventory of what I had that could work, what I wanted, what I needed, and what was actually available in the market in terms of patterns, fabrics, and even ready to wear with prices. When I looked through my closet, I started with two pairs of wool slacks and lots of rather plain cotton blouses in some really wild vintage prints. I also had some sweaters that were o.k. for a 40s look. In the 2017 season, I was able to wear those wool slacks and cotton blouses at work and had no problems really for when I was working with the customers in our "little store" at the main barn. Unfortunately, those wool slacks and cotton blouse were no match for the field work. I needed and wanted something more rugged.  . . .  So far, what I did have was some nice blouses really that would truly work for me. . That was all. Not too great a start but we all have to start somewhere.

An early crack at 40s "working wear" with
wool slacks and a colorful printed blouse.
Great for light work in the "store" but not in the filed.  
Once the 2017 season was done, I did a little shopping and a little research on what I could do to build up my dream wardrobe of 40s working wear. . .I was fortunate enough to purchase a Simplicity pattern, a re print of a pair of vintage "Rosie the Riveter" style overalls. The timing of the release of this
Re printed Simplicity pattern.
The pattern which I made my first
 40s working wear from.  . . .
pattern could not have been more perfect and it just must have been a sign. I bought that pattern and the materials for it right away and had a pair of those denim coveralls whipped up in no time flat. They turned out a little too snug but the denim had some serious stretch to it I later learned and am not too worried about their wear ability. There, a pair of denim overalls! Check!

Later over the winter, I figured that I could not live with only my cotton blouses and one pair of overalls. . I needed more (much more). To continue my building, I pulled out a Folk Wear pattern from a friend that was for a pair of 40s trousers and whipped up two pairs of slacks. . .One pair from a really good denim and another from a brown bull cotton (like a denim but not. . . It's a rugged cotton). After cutting those out, I had enough left over for something else. But, two pairs of pants? Check and check!!

From my Der Goldene Schnitt Pattern books (1940 and 1941), there are pairs of overalls. They are illustrated as a unisex pair and the pattern for the men and women is identical. I was rather apprehensive about these I will admit and I actually put off making them for a long time. . .A couple of months actually until I decided that gosh darnnit now is the time. So, I made up my pattern, compared it to my pants patterns to ensure the crotch would fit and eventually I had a pair of Lutterloh overalls! Woo hoo. They turned out really big and the straight legged pants was really baggy on me so I do have to take them in quite a bit but still, I did it and I now have two pairs of overalls all together. An American pair and a German pair. Not to bad eh? Check and Semi Check!

Over the winter, I had made up for myself: two pairs of overalls, two pairs of pants and I still had all the blouses I had previously made. Not too bad a start for building a collection a 40s working wear now is it? Like I already said, it is a start and I am by no means finished. Farm wear gets dirty fast and a fresh pair of anything is a blessing no matter how you dice it. I have some left over denim yet that I think will be just enough for another pair of pants and I plan to buy more too to make as many a possible as the modern denim I have is getting pretty old anyway and will have to be replaced sooner or later (but it all had a good run, those are almost 10 years old!). Other items that would not hurt to be had are maybe some jackets and a coat but I have a nice military surplus camo coat I wear in the winter that has served me quite faithfully and I am sure it will continue to do so.
Once I was in the 2018 blueberry season, I had a really good set of 40s working wear and I was getting a lot of compliments on it too. People were getting a kick out of it.
I don't have too many pictures of my working wear because when I'm wearing it I am working . Not too much time for pictures to be honest. And when my day is done I am too tired to get the camera and tri pod out . . .So you will have to live what I have here. My working wear is not too fancy and I have it down to a formula. Jeans and blouse and sweater.
O.k. Hair . . . For hair I keep it super simple and will normally wrap my head in a scarf. It allows my hair to be kept out of the way  and it also hides my hair when I do not set it the night before. I will roll my hair up at the back of my head as well. As long as it is confined I am happy because it makes my life simple and keeps bees out of it too. . . But that is another story.
Tada! My working wear. I know LOTS of you have been asking me about my working wear over the years and I hope this was the post you all have been waiting for. I guess I can say it has been a really long time coming. In fact, the majority of the post was in the draft folder for over a year (opps). Well, better late than never. Anyways . . I have to go back to work. Take care out there!


  1. You look great in slacks and I can see that they are really practical for your farm work. I would think skirts or dresses would be difficult for such work. I never used to wear slacks (religious reasons) but once my friends persuaded me to try a pair I never looked back and wear them regularly now especially in winter.

  2. You've created a great solution for your working wear problem! I, too, work 'rough'- crawling in the dirt weeding, getting snagged on roses and barberries, grass stains- and so far have dealt with it by wearing old leggings with holes in the knees, tank tops, and an old long-sleeve cotton shirt over that. Not very elegant or inspiring! I might try creating some pants this winter that fit well enough but are loose enough to squat and kneel in without being cut in half. You look beautiful in your work clothes and are very inspiring!

  3. If there is a better reason for tying your hair up in a scarf while you work than bees in your hair . . . I haven't heard it yet!

  4. Very stylish clothes - workmanlike and still attractive.

  5. WOW! That is a darling and practical look. How do you tie your headscarves so they "stay"???

  6. So darling and practical! How do you tie your headscarves so they "stay"??

    1. Thank you! I tie mine as snug as I can and use bobby pins. Two criss crossed in the back on each side and also a couple in the front. Scarf texture is a big one too. I prefer the silk scarves because they have a natural grip. I cant use the slippery polyester ones because they never stay put.


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