When it comes to buying cloths for work, it is possible to tailor your outfit to meet the demands of almost any job or environment. Knowing how materials perform in various conditions is important to ensuring that you end up with the perfect combination of fibers for the environment you find yourself working in. The following workwear tips should help to clarify what materials you can choose from as well as the properties they provide to the garments they are used to make.
Cotton is popular because it is light, durable, and breathes (allows moisture to move away from the body). The term “duck” refers to the way in which the cotton is woven. Cotton duck fabric is exceptionally durable (it was once used for ship sails), second only to leather in its ability to block wind, and one of the softer fabrics used in workwear (it gets softer with washing).
If you are shopping somewhere like www.engelbert-strauss.co.uk, then look for the “Duck Grade” or fabric weight to help you decide what activity the cotton duck is best suited for. Here is a brief overview of cotton duck grades. Remember that Duck Grade works the opposite of weight (in ounces). The heavier the weight, the lower the Duck Grade (DG) and the stronger the fabric.
. DG 1/Weight 18 oz. – Sandbags and Cots
. DG 2/Weight 17 oz. – Hatch Paulins
. DG 3/Weight 16 oz. – Heavy-Duty Bags
. DG 4/Weight 15 oz. – Sea Bags
. DG 5/Weight 14 oz. – Heavy Work Clothing
. DG 6/Weight 13 oz. – Heavy Work Clothing
. DG 8/Weight 11 oz. – Medium Work Clothing
. DG 10/Weight 9 oz. – Light Work Clothing, Shower Curtains
. DG 12/Weight 7 oz. – Light Clothing
Denim, which is another form of cotton, is known for its durability (though it is less durable than cotton duck). It is more comfortable than cotton duck and is even popular for casual clothing. Denim is a good choice for work conditions that require more mobility (kneeling, bending, etc.), but still require high durability.
Flannel is relatively light and not particularly durable. It also is made of cotton. Flannel is soft to the touch and very warm, making a popular choice as an undergarment. It is used extensively for cold-weather work, such as outdoor construction and forest work. Flannel is also used as a lining in gloves, coats, pants, and boots. Because flannel is not water-resistant, it needs to be covered by a shell made of another material if it is to be used in a potentially wet environment.
Leather, which can come from most any animal, is often used as a shell for gloves, jackets, and boots because it offers durability and protection from water while still being relatively flexible. Because there are so many types, leather could easily consume an entire article of its own. Be aware that leather comes in many grades of durability, flexibility, appearance, and water-resistance.
This particular weave is made by twisting together fibers of cotton and then knitting the yarns into fabric. It is somewhat stronger than standard cotton and also smoother. It makes for good light-duty clothing for which flexibility and comfort are important considerations.
Things like nylon and polyester have become popular for their water-resistance and ability to block wind. Many synthetic fabrics, nylon and polyester included, are considered dangerous when worn near open flames because they tend to melt and stick to the body, causing serious burns. There are too many synthetics to mention and their properties vary drastically, so be sure to compare as many options as you can when searching for the right combination in this segment. Note that many synthetics are used in the quilted linings of garments where they offer excellent heat-retaining properties. Polyester is often used as an alternative to down (i.e. feathers) to create warm clothing or bedding.
Wool is popular because it retains heat quite well. It is commonly used as an insulation in blankets and jackets as well as to make socks, glove linings, and high-end suits, jackets, and skirts. Because wool is not water-resistant, it is not used for the outer lining or “shell” of materials that will be exposed to water.
When you are selecting workwear, the fabric is the most important component of the garment to consider, but it is not the only thing you should evaluate. Think of the stress that will be placed on the item and the consider the quality of the
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Also keep in mind that some fabrics are specifically intended to repel water or resist flames. You will need to choose the right garment for your particular needs. Knowing the properties of some of the base materials used in workwear should go a long way to making you a savvy shopper.