A sound investment

To help you understand what you should look for when choosing workwear, Chris Mellor-Dolman, gives his expert advice

Workwear isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ job – innovations in fashion and personal protective equipment (PPE) are changing the clothes we wear, improving not only the safety aspect, but also the comfort and professional appearance.

When thinking of workwear, it is important for tradespeople to consider the common risks and environmental factors that impact their day-to-day working life. Construction covers a lot of ground, so making suitable workwear and protection is essential for each specific trade. For example, hard hats and steel-capped boots are vital for builders, but an alternative type of protection may be required for electricians or engineers.

Workwear presents hundreds of options, from clothing that promotes flexibility and comfort, to equipment that provides extra protection against the elements. Gone are the days of a basic boiler suit or spare t-shirts and jeans, tradespeople should now be looking towards specifically designed solutions that enhance the way they work.

Think smart
In recent years, smart materials have risen in popularity with workwear designers, allowing them to create such things as stretch fabrics that improve flexibility with no sacrifice to protection, and odour-eliminating technologies. Cordura® is one example of this, as its abrasion resistance aspect allows it to provide additional protection in the areas that take the most wear and tear including knees, hems and pockets. Micro-Fresh® technology on the other hand, applies a spray to the fabric and lining of shoes that stops the growth and spread of harmful bacteria and mould, reducing the chance of bad smells while on the job.

Both of these enhance the durability and life span of the clothing, creating breathable material that keeps its wearer comfortable even in the hottest summers. When selecting clothing, it is important that you consider the smart material options, rather than just looking at the price. While it may seem like more money, the clothes are designed to be long lasting and professional looking, which means you won’t need to fork out for new t-shirts or trousers every other month.

No matter the weather
Obviously, working in the UK comes with environmental challenges that can be unpredictable, with a normal British summer being a healthy mix of the occasional downpour and muggy temperatures. Tradespeople who work outside on a construction site will need a range of clothing options that can accommodate for these changes and take on the seasonal changes throughout the year.

While a T-shirt may seem like a good option for spring and summer, a polo top may offer better comfort because it is both breathable in hot weather and thick enough to protect from cool breezes. Boots are, of course, a tradesperson’s old faithful when it comes to protective gear, but it is important that you choose the right ones for the job. Electricians that work indoors will obviously have less to protect against than a construction worker. For builders, these are essential for protection, not only from falling objects and heavy items that could land on the wearer’s feet, but also from wet and uneven ground that presents stability and water penetration challenges. Hoodies and fleeces can also come in handy when the weather suddenly turns, as they help keep you warm during cold showers or when you’re working at a height.

The finer details
Now that you’ve sorted out the main items of clothing, it’s time to think about the accessories you need. Pockets can be a tradesperson’s best friend, especially when working in tight spaces. Finding trousers with multiple, reinforced pockets or shorts with holster pockets 5allows you to store your tools and keep them close at hand, rather than running back to your van or searching through a messy toolbox every minute.

No matter what you’re searching for, it is important to always establish what is essential for your work. For some, especially sole traders who are trying to increase their customer base, it may be looking professional with branded tops, while others may need extra comfort. Ideally, investing in workwear that ticks all boxes is the best, but the highest priorities should always be comfort, fit, durability and protection.

Chris Mellor-Dolman is head of marketing & merchandising at Scruffs Workwear. Setting the standard since 2003, Scruffs designs workwear and safety footwear for a new generation of trade professionals. Engineered with technical expertise to deliver outstanding comfort, durability and functionality, Scruffs workwear is made to work as hard as you do.

For more information, please see www.scruffs.com