Men's good quality clothing basics
December 31, 2020 2:00 PM   Subscribe

What are your go tos for higher quality but not super spendy men's basics? Tees, casual workshirts and work pants for someone doing a more manual labor type job, sweaters, sweatpants, socks, throw em all at me. Thanks!!
posted by fairlynearlyready to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I’ve been wearing blank (non-graphic) long sleeve t-shirts from Life Is Good recently. They’re a nice weight, pretty soft.

My go-to office outfit (which I’m actually wearing right now, even though I’m not in the office - goes to show how comfy it is) is a crew neck cotton sweater from Old Navy and a pair of Carhartt khaki pants. The khakis are really heavyweight - since they’re Carhartt, there’s an expectation that you won’t just be sitting at a desk. But they look nice and professional if you do in fact sit at a desk. They’re generally around $40, which is a nice price point between super cheap and more expensive than necessary. As for the sweater, I generally buy cotton sweaters cheap because they shrink easily. I’ve had this one for over a year, though, and it still fits nicely.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:19 PM on December 31, 2020 [2 favorites]

I like Red Kap pants and jeans. Much less expensive than eg Dickies or Carhartt, and 90% as tough and long lasting in most applications. I like that I can do field work or teach college classes in pants like these for $23; ymmv. Uniform supply companies like that also usually have good options for work shirts too but I haven't used those (yet).
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:21 PM on December 31, 2020

I was on a quest to find great work pants a while back. I actually found that Patagonia of all places had the sturdiest work pants, and they have a few that also don’t seem out of place in a casual office setting. They don’t scream outdoor gear or construction site workwear.

Their double front work pants looks a little more “general labor” but are so far tough as fuckin nails (and the hemp used to make them is a surprisingly comfortable canvas).
posted by furnace.heart at 3:32 PM on December 31, 2020

I have a pretty heavily manual labor type job in the Normal Times.

Yeah, there's a reason Carhartt is all over construction sites - it wears hard. Even when they start to look a little ratty and worn they're a long way from disintegrating. Especially for pants and outerwear.

Dickies would be another option. I especially like their button down work shirts and shorts.

Darn Tough for socks.

I'm generally not a sweater guy & definitely not a sweatpants on the job guy. I think whether those are appropriate clothing depends on the manual labor - in my line of work there's too much stuff for a sweater to catch on and too much kneeling on the ground and rubbing against things for sweats to be usefully durable.

Hoodies I wear all the time, but here (and with t shirts) I basically count them as "disposable", since there's a darn good chance they're gonna get torn during my normal course of work. So I just periodically buy whatever's on sale at Target or Kohl's or wherever.

Hanes Beefy Tees have served me pretty well, though.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:43 PM on December 31, 2020 [3 favorites]

I no longer have a manual labor job but do a lot of field work and spend a significant part of the year (in a normal year...) on construction sites.

I wear (and most of the people I work with do also) mostly Carhartt and Wrangler Riggs pants. They look minimally nice (for a very casual situation, obviously) and survive longer than other brands I have tried. Synthetic pants are fine for wet field work, but otherwise the regular canvas pants work the best and last longer. I occasionally see science or agency staff in Patagonia but that is getting pricey for clothes that will get ripped or stained; I've never seen anyone on a crew wearing that. Jeans are mostly the unfashionable kind made by those same companies, not the expensive skinny jeans.

I agree about hoodies being a disposable wear item; I try to pick up Carhartt hoodies on sale because I like how they fit, but they are all kind of interchangeable.

For T-shirts I tend to cycle through Eddie Bauer, Lands End, Carhartt, or other brands -- whatever I can find that is on sale, 100% cotton, and fits ok. If you are an outlier size (multiple XL, tall, etc) then the range of brands will shrink way down.

I never see sweatpants in my work settings -- they are too flimsy for the field and too casual for the office.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:34 PM on December 31, 2020 [2 favorites]

Uniqlo all the way!
posted by moons in june at 6:01 PM on December 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

UNIQLO for sweaters, tees, sweats, and thermals. Their pants and shirts are also fine for soft-handed desk jockeys like me, but I’d look to Carhartt, Duluth, et al. for pants and work shirts more suited to manual labor—brands that take range of motion into consideration and know the value of a well-placed gusset.
posted by mumkin at 6:22 PM on December 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Costco for tshirts. Only white or black, but they are 100% cotton, heavyweight, wear like iron and wash well. Reasonably priced. Usually you can buy them online even if you aren't a costco member, for slightly higher price.
posted by KayQuestions at 7:08 PM on December 31, 2020

Came to pile on for Carhartt. I wore them for my warehouse job and have continued to wear them. Pants, shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jacket. Wool hat too. They take a lot of abuse and still look decent. The thing that bothers me is that they are becoming sort of hip trendy. I have seen rappers and college kids sporting their Carhartt.
posted by AugustWest at 8:23 PM on December 31, 2020

The banana republic traveller pants are amazing comfortable and often on sale. I wear mine all the time!
posted by piyushnz at 11:33 PM on December 31, 2020

Military surplus store for extremely inexpensive durable gently-used wool pants.
posted by aniola at 11:43 PM on December 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

N-thing Carhartt pants (though I seem to have lost or gained weight in such a way that they don't fit me well at the moment). You don't say where you are, but this is probably worth a trip to Fleet Farm/Farm & Fleet/Agway/Tractor Supply/whatever your local variation is and seeing what they have. The Agway where my mom lives is not large, but has the most comprehensive selection of pants in town--your choices are Carhartt or what you can find at TJ Maxx.
posted by hoyland at 6:17 AM on January 1, 2021

All USA Clothing sells union-made Camber t-shirts. They are well-made, sturdy and are the best t-shirts I have ever worn. The heavyweight shirts are just that.

They have stock issues, so you might want to email or call them to make sure the color you want is in stock.
posted by donpardo at 6:29 AM on January 1, 2021

Darn Tough for socks, definitely.
posted by sideshow at 10:22 AM on January 1, 2021

I like Dickies jeans. Tough blue-collar look, not that "fashionable".

Propper makes military stuff, but when they are on sale, they are affordable. I also like Blackhawk! and 5.11 cargo pants and regular pants... Supposedly "tactical", but it works.

I found which sells River's End shirts for $10, which is lower than Amazon's price of $15 or higher. (specifics may vary slightly). Seems pretty good quality so far, but I've only got them for a month so I can't tell you if they last.
posted by kschang at 11:01 AM on January 1, 2021

Duluth trading co.
posted by slateyness at 11:14 AM on January 1, 2021

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