A chore jacket is one that is up to the task… This 1960’s Lee chore jacket is one characterised by its boxy fit, 3-button cuff and capacious pockets – perfectly sized for a mechanical gadget, a paperback, or even a cold hand. We have a fair few Chore jackets in our archive, but this one stands out with it’s contrast chest and hip pockets.


The chore jacket has blue-collar origins (literally), first used in 19th century France, worn by labourers, railroad engineers and farmers. Typically it was made from cotton drill or moleskin, and was dyed with a benzoate based blue dye – the rich blue we now associate with French worker jackers – chosen to mask the dirt and stains from a hard days work. These jackets were dubbed ‘bleu de travail’, which translates to ‘blue work’, hence, the well-known turn of phrase.

The bleu de travail became known as the Chore Jacket in 1923, when it reached the USA through workwear company Carhartt. Almost 100 years ago, in 1925, Lee also threw their hat in the bleu de travail ring. The one you see here is 1960s version of this – the 91-J; the J of course stands for Jelt, a denim that Lee used, and still uses, for much of their workwear. It’s characterised by its tight construction and twisted yarn, and while it is only an 11.5 oz. denim, it has the quality of a 13 oz fabric. This makes it the perfect material for the average worker, able to withstand the toil of a days work, but remains light and breathable.

Bill Cunningham in NYC
Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke (1967)

These days we’re probably more familiar with it from the infamous street photographer Bill Cunningham, Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption, or Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke – not to mention on the backs of many of a city-dweller, in need of trans-seasonal coat with more storage than Ikea!

Check out our 1960s Lee Jelt Chore Jacket here >>