Skip to main content

Painter's Pants

Painter's Pants

Blue collar or utilitarian chic is the name given to the fashion trend of work clothes becoming high fashion. Like blue jeans, painter's pants were discovered as a fashion item by those who never wore them for work. Originally designed to be worn by working painters, painter's pants have been sold by makers of work clothes such as Dickies, since at least the 1920s. Made of white canvas with heavily stitched seams, painter's pants are distinguished by their many pockets, some roomy enough to hold brushes and rags, others small enough to keep a putty knife or screwdriver close at hand. Painter's pants also have a hammer loop, a fabric strap sized to hold the handle of a hammer, on the right-hand leg seam. Many young women, energized by the Women's and Gay Liberation movements of the early 1970s, wore painter's pants as a political statement, often with work boots, because they were the clothes of skilled trades-people and had been formerly reserved for men.

However, painter's pants became especially fashionable during the late 1970s. The white pants were themselves a blank canvas, and soon both men and women were painting, spattering, and embroidering their painter's pants to make individual fashion statements. Bright, paint-splashed painter's pants were in perfect harmony with the florescent colors and vivid patterns that were popular at the time. Some people even made playful use of the hammer loop by hanging a toy hammer or bright bandanna there. Painter's hats and overalls were also decorated for street wear. Soon clothing manufacturers caught onto the demand for stylish painter's pants and began to manufacture them in pastels and bright colors, as well as the popular splattered paint design.

During the 1980s when many 1970s fashions were ridiculed, painter's pants had a slight decrease in popularity, but by the 1990s they had returned to favor again as high fashion. Several fashion designers, such as Victor Alfaro (1963), featured clean, white painter's pants in their collections.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Romero, Elena. "Workwear Is Music to YM Market." Daily News Record (July 2, 1996): 89.

Vargo, Julie. "Dickies: Dressing Men at Work for 75 Years." Daily News Record (November 3, 1997):1214.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Painter's Pants." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 May. 2019 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Painter's Pants." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 19, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/painters-pants

"Painter's Pants." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Retrieved May 19, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/painters-pants

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.