In Shop Blog

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I wear clothing until it falls off my body or until my wife refuses to leave the house with me – whichever comes first.

My favorite sweatshirt is one I bought my first day of college in 1986. It’s a U.S.-made Champion sweatshirt and has always served as a reminder that buying cheap clothes is false economy.

Recently I’ve had to replace some of my work clothes because my Army surplus pants (also from the Reagan years) gave out. And my shop is colder this year, so I needed an extra layer for winter.

I’m not a contractor, so I’m not looking for technical gear with two sandwich pockets and a catheter. I want well-fitted stuff for the shop that won’t get caught in machines and will last for years. I know I will catch some crap for not just duct-taping rags to my body that I’ve stolen from the Goodwill bins behind the liquor store. But that’s not me.


Pointer Jeans
I’ve written about Pointer jeans several times. They’re made in Tennessee – have been forever – and are well-priced and durable. I just wore out my first pair after three years. Not bad.

Recently the brand has become a darling of the lumber-sexuals, so avoid the company’s fancy stuff. You can still get a good pair of jeans there for about $50. Watch for sales; they have a lot of them.


Ben Davis
I like monkeys. Who doesn’t? So the Ben Davis line of work clothes is great – every one comes with a monkey logo. The downside is that this brand, which has been around since 1935, makes a lot of its stuff overseas. The quality, however, is very good. Especially for the price.

I recently bought some hickory-stripe shirts made in Pakistan and was really happy to be able to get them in tall sizes. My arms are somewhat simian. And the tall size ensures my tender bottom will not suffer the drafts of winter whence I bendeth down. If you are OK with overseas stuff, Ben Davis is hard to beat.


Le Laboureur
This is my big indulgence. I have always wanted a French work jacket from Le Laboureur ever since I saw one in England years ago. They are hard to get in the United States, so I bought mine from The Shopkeeper in the U.K.

Recently Hand-Eye Supply in the United States received a shipment of Le Labourer stuff, including the moleskin jackets. This is the real stuff. It fits extraordinarily well. Breaks in nicely. And is warm and breathable. It is the perfect winter companion for the shop. Heck I love the thing so much I wear it while editing and writing. Yeah, $120 is a lot. But in retrospect I would have spent more.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 17 comments
  • flatpickn

    I’ll second the Diamond Gusset recommendation. Excellent jeans. Made in Tennessee. Durable and less binding when you crouch down.

  • zbernard

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Filson, made right here in Seattle, WA. Fantastic stuff. Its expensive, but it’ll last your whole life. Because they’ll fix it your whole life.

  • Bob

    A good brand in the the west is Prison Blues. They are made by inmates at Eastern Oregon prison. The charter is to provide quality clothes at a reasonable price while paying inmates prevailing wage and offsetting the cost of incarceration. The pants and jackets are heavy duty. Never tried the shirts.

  • snacky227

    Lumber sexual? Sounds painful.

  • skoonz

    Check out Duluth Trading Co. Great products, and I think you would like their sense of humor in their catalogs and ads.

  • MysticValleyWoodworking

    Carhartt jeans, jackets, shirts — all made in Michigan and loved in Maine! Durable and not too pricey.

  • dspitler

    I don’t normally get caught up enough to respond, but I just had to tell you about Duluth Trading clothing. If you like ’em heavy weight wear like iron and feature packed nothing beats Duluth Trading. I especially like their Fire Hose cargo pants and shirts. It looks like I might have to send the pair I bought 15 years ago to Goodwill. Most days, I go just about everywhere dressed in Duluth.

  • geovincent

    My college sweatshirt goes back to 1962. I think the reason that it has lasted so long is that it hasn’t fit for several (many) years. I’m working on solving that however.

  • artagain

    Huge fan of LL Bean’s Katahdin Iron Works stuff. Engineer boots and pants are super rugged yet break in nice. My shop gets a little chilly this time of year so I wear their fleece lined work pants.

  • jsbergner

    Nice article! I love your writing style and tone. Always a pleasure to read and usually I get a smile or 2.
    I am a monkey fan as well. Will need to get at least a shirt!!

  • mikeholz

    When I follow the link to Pointer Jeans my computer says it can not link as HTTPS and warns me not to proceed. It tells me their security certificate has expired and that hackers might be trying to dupe me.

    Computer = Apple
    OS = Yosemite
    Software Updates = the very latest


  • DanWyant

    I swear by Riggs workwear by Wrangler. Ripstop pants are $30 as are the jeans which are thick and wear like iron, each has a gusset in the crotch allowing for unrestricted movement. I don’t know where of they are made, because I view such considerations a fools errand.

  • woddawg

    Any drawers over $25 are ‘fancy pants’. My Wranglers for under $20 works fine, and do not cause any drafts when I bend. I like to shop, but if it ain’t broke, don’t replace it. I just last year got rid of a shirt I was given by my employer at the time, way back in 2000. Collar was looking a bit Goodwill. But I have bought t-shirts from Goodwill, just because they had a cool graphic on it.

  • pwbaud

    Too bad all the Ben Davis shirts have a big logo on the front.

  • Jon

    Diamond Gusset makes good blue jeans too, all american made, also in Tenessee. Price is in the same range. I have found them to be very durable.

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