Carpenter trousers come from a long line of menswear staples derived from workwear. Alongside chore jackets, work shirts, trucker jackets and denim jeans, carpenter trousers are among the most durable, practical and stylish pieces of clothing around.
Featuring a loose fit, multitude of pockets and cut from hard-wearing cotton, carpenter pants are modern-day casualwear essentials. Easy to style with boxy cut T-shirts and polos, but equally cool dressed up with knitwear and tailored jackets, this is a style of trouser worth investing in.
From what they are exactly to buying considerations and the best carpenter pant brands around, here’s all you need to know.
What are carpenter pants?
Carpenter trousers are a style of workwear pant originally designed for, you guessed it, carpenters and those who work with their hands. As such, the style typically comes with a number of pockets for stashing tools, brushes and other daily essentials.
There’s usually a pocket or two on either thigh, although they differ from cargo trouser pockets in that they are narrower and don’t have flaps. Another typical feature of the carpenter trouser is the hammer loop, which is designed to hook a hammer or small mallet onto it.
Elsewhere, the style usually comes in a wide or regular fit, with a mid-rise and large hem opening. This is because these trousers are designed for comfort and ease of movement, in a way not dissimilar to cargo pants.
You might also find large double-stitched slanted pockets up front, as well as double-stitched knees for added durability. This is an inherently casual style of trouser best worn with other laid-back staples like relaxed-fitting shirts, tees, hoodies and work jackets.
While carpenter trousers are largely similar in style, there are a few variations to be found. Some, for example, come with all the bells and whistles – double-stitched knees, hammer loops and multiple side pockets – while modern-day fashion versions will have just one or two of these details.
If you want the full-on, traditional workwear aesthetic, try and seek out the former, which is the kind of style most carpenters and labourers might actually wear on a job. If you desire something a little more versatile though, consider those without the hammer loop and only one or two pockets. These offer a sleeker, more tailored aesthetic that can be dressed up or down while stopping it look like you’re playing dress up.
If your default cut is slim fit, carpenter trousers aren’t for you. They typically come wide through the leg and with a large opening at the hem to accommodate chunky work boots. The style is ideal if you’re looking for a relaxed pair of trousers you can wear with similarly casual pieces – think boxy tees, hoodies, sweatshirts and knitwear.
Classic carpenter pants will also feature a slightly higher rise than you might be used to. They should button up just above your waist, which is both practical and flattering, and when done up with a belt, there’s no chance of them falling down.
A higher rise also elongates your legs, making you appear taller and slimmer, which is certainly no bad thing.
When it comes to fabric, carpenter pants are cut from hard-wearing, durable materials like cotton twill, denim and moleskin. These are the type of fabrics that have been used in workwear for decades, loved as much for their rugged nature as their tactile textures.
While you can sometimes find carpenter trousers in lighter-weight cotton, they are usually cut from heavyweight blends, hinting at their workwear heritage. The upshot is that carpenter pants are trousers you can count on to go the distance and take a beating.
The most stylish carpenter pant brands
When it comes to workwear essentials, whether we’re talking chore jackets or carpenter pants, Stan Ray should be near the top of your list.
The brand’s Painter pant fits the bill with its hammer loop, multiple pockets and wide cut, with fabrics ranging from seersucker to old-school cotton canvas.
One of the OG workwear brands, Carhartt has been producing carpenter pants for decades, way before they were mainstream cool.
Expect plenty of the brand’s signature cotton duck canvas, as well as double-stitched knees, baggy fits and bulletproof fabrics.
Taking inspiration from heritage designs, P&Co’s Albion carpenter pants are one of the more impressive on this list.
Cut from a hardy 16oz cotton canvas, they come with double reinforced knees, antique brass rivets and triple stitching for ultimate durability.
Levi’s denim jeans have been setting the marker for decades, yet because of this its other trouser styles are hugely underrated. You can expect the same level of detail with the brand’s carpenter trousers, with heavyweight cotton and straight fits taking centre stage.
You could outfit your entire wardrobe from Ralph Lauren, from super-sharp tailoring to laid-back weekend wear.
The US brand’s carpenter trousers come in vintage cuts and pre-washed cotton fabrics with traditional pocket detailing. Perfect for combining with other Ivy League-inspired pieces.
Blacksmith has fairly quickly become one of our favourite destinations for modern workwear. The retailer’s own-brand carpenter pants fall on the minimal end of the spectrum, without hammer loops and excess pockets.
The wide fits and durable cotton fabrics are still there though, making them perfect if you’re searching for a more understated pair.
One of the original workwear companies, Dickies has been adopted by everyone from blue-collar workers to skaters to rappers over the years.
When it comes to carpenter pants, keep an eye out for the brand’s signature poly-cotton fabric, which is crease-resistant, incredibly rugged and looks smarter than most.
Gap is one of the more underrated options on the high street, with its carpenter pants showing why. Surprisingly soft cotton fabrics are combined with flattering straight fits, a mid-rise and a whole load of pockets.
Officine Generale applies is known for its tailored take on modern wardrobe essentials, with its carpenter pants no exception.
They come in a straight tapered fit with minimal detailing for a sleek, sophisticated look that combines well with button-down shirts and unstructured blazers.