Some people like to keep a simple closet, full of options that go to dinner after the workday ends without looking out of place. Other folks like the rugged look of a pair Dickies or Carhartt pants out on the street.
Not only are they more affordable than their fancier counterparts, they last longer, look better longer, and have that rebellious look of belonging to a unique club. If one sees someone else on the street wearing work clothes, it’s like a secret handshake.
The questions, however, is which brand is the better of the two?
The answer will come down to individual tastes, but let’s take a look at what makes these two companies differ in terms of reputation, fit, cost, and overall value. Then, you can decide for yourself.
Both companies have been around for at least a century at this point, but Carhartt has three more decades on Dickies. If a brand can last 100 years, then it’s not about to go anywhere soon.
In the United States, one can buy both brands just as easily, but across the pond, Carhartt is easier to find. They have a handful of outlets in England.
That said, neither brand is exclusively made in the U.S.A. Both offer made in the U.S.A. options if one prefers to support U.S. labor.
If you are the sort of buyer only purchases items from brands who keep their labor in the United States, there are options that are exclusively American made. ‘Nuff said.
Shop MADE IN AMERICA workwear
Speaking of American workers, if one were to ask 100 workers across a broad spectrum of work environments in a variety of locations, there would be an even split on who’s grandpa wore which brand… Ergo the reason that any particular individual wears one or the other.
Unlike the ebbs and flows of costlier street fashion brands, work wear loyalties pass down through the generations like keepsakes. We should expect to see them mentioned in the will: “To my grandson, I leave my dedication to Carhartt/Dickies.”
On reputation, these two brands are equals.
This is where personal taste and body shape comes into play. No doubt, Dickies, and Carhartt are not sharing the same patterns.
They both offer the sort of duck that takes a serious beating, and triple reinforced stitching, riveted pockets, that sort of thing, but they do not fit the same.
In one online discussion, a user insists that Dickies pants sit “funny in the hips.” Another user on the same discussion insists that they are not cut to fit a man as well as a woman.
These are anecdotal experiences of other people, noteworthy, but not as valuable as your own anecdotal experiences.
You’ll have to wear these clothes and to know which fit will work better for you. For this reason, you’ll want to try on many sizes of each brand.
This is the case with any brand. One person will swear the brand sits funny, and another will say that is all he or she can wear comfortably.
Both brands offer a variety of cuts, from more tight fitting trendy cuts to baggier versions.
The good news is, while they may not share their master patterns with each other, these two brands do not veer much from their brand look and feel. Once you decide which one is “my fit,” you can stop shopping the other brand.
Let’s put this out there right away. In general, one will spend a little more for Carhartt over Dickies. This is the argument often made against purchasing Carhartt workwear.
That said, the difference is small. For example, in the All Seasons Uniforms catalog, Carhartt Jeans start in the neighborhood of $29.99. Dickies jeans start in the neighborhood of $19.99.
True, that is a 33 percent price separation, but only works out to $10. Compared to fashion jeans, which are usually made cheaply, but start above $100, and fall apart quickly, ten bucks is barely anything.
Where the issue comes to a head is when someone is trying to fill a closet with work wear for a new job. Picking up a single jacket is one thing.
When buying a week’s worth of clothes, a ten dollar difference adds up to a significant cost, especially for someone who might be starting a new job, especially if that person was recently unemployed.
For those who are already working, the cost will not matter much in this decision.
The value of a product comes down to personal perception. For most working folks, cost is something of a factor, but only in so much as spending should be commensurate with the quality.
Split down the middle, the quality between these two respectable brands is about the same. A pair of dungarees from either will last about the same, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of forever.
To the point, workers like work wear because if one buys right the first time, there is less buying to do later (except for those who work with staining products; sorry painters).
For this reason, the minor price point differences over time wind up being even less of a factor, pennies during the course of a year.
The value in this regard, if it’s not about durability or cost, becomes then a matter of personal taste and fit.
These clothes go on your body. Especially if you’re buying this workwear to function in your work life as well as your personal life, they should fit you without discomfort or distraction.
If they fit right at first, then they will only fit better over time. That moment, when a pair of jeans slides on like curling up under a soft throw during a winter storm, is the whole reason to value behind buying the right work wear in the first place.
Try many options. You may not like shopping per se, but if you can slow down long enough to get your fit right the first time, it will likely be the only time.
The next time you need to buy workwear, you’ll know which brand gives you the most overall value.
So, which is better???
If it’s not clear at this point, consider the way these clothes fit above any other factor. Don’t let the perceived reputations, histories or costs factor into your decision.
In the big picture, these two brands divide about the same. They are both U.S. brands with iron-clad, century-long reputations in the field.
They’ll both save you money over trendier clothing brands. They both offer traditional and modern cuts. They both tell the world you belong to a secret club, at least to other club members.
This is workwear, worn by working people, our favorite kind of people at Basic Clothing and Uniform.