Ultimate Construction Manager Clothing Guide - 2023
Managers working in construction must coordinate their work in the office and on the job site. However, finding an outfit that can transition from the office to the construction site and maintain style and functionality for both environments can be challenging for most managers.
While you might look sharp in a three-piece suit, it doesn’t really cut it as functional workwear in the field. On the other hand, wearing baggy construction clothes doesn’t inspire confidence in potential clients and makes you blend in with regular construction workers.
So what can you wear to work as a construction manager? In this guide, we take you through construction manager clothing and 5 practical dressing tips to help you stand out even while working on-site.
What Should Construction Managers Wear To Work?
Construction managers, like people in other corporate roles, must dress in the correct attire for work. Apart from the clothes you wear at the office, you must wear safety apparel or protective workwear if you're going for an on-site visit at a construction.
However, a construction manager's dress code differs from regular construction workers' clothing. While construction workers spend the whole day deep in an excavation or up on a scaffold, a manager must also attend meetings with clients and investors, which may demand a more formal look.
Forget utility pants, heavy safety boots, and full PPE. While they are useful on the job site, you can’t pull off an office look in them. Instead, think smart casual, decent pants, a polo shirt, coupled with a safety vest, leather belt or jacket, and a pair of decent shoes.
Embrace the Functionality of Good Workwear
So, what is good workwear for managers in the business? Your wardrobe should consist of clean, crisp outfits that accommodate for your on and off-site duties.
In short, your attire should let you easily access different construction environments and stand out from regular construction workers’ attire. Here are some fashion pieces you can wear to help you stand out as a construction manager in 2023.
Let’s kick it off with some good top options that can balance well in the office and on the job site. Flannel shirts, polo shirts, and collar shirts are popular among many construction project managers who must balance office and on-site work.
Donning a formal button-up shirt can feel a bit inadequate when you’re standing side-by-side with your crew, so it's best to go with something slightly more casual if your client’s expectations allow it. For example, you can wear golf polo shirts in the warmer months and flannels in the colder months.
A key takeaway regarding tops is to wear breathable shirts that can handle all the sweat while being stretchy enough to allow a full range of motion. Depending on the weather, look for something that will keep you sweat-free in the warm summer months or warm and cozy against the rain, wind, and snow.
As a manager, wearing slim-fit chinos provides you with a high level of professionalism while still being a great choice for fieldwork. While most people will choose to go with straight-fit khaki pants or jeans, chinos fare quite well in all settings, leave ample space for movement and are comfortable on and off-site.
However, you can switch to some cotton and linen pants during warmer months as the weather demands it. Denim or baggy jeans are out of the question if how you look demands professionalism. Jeans aren't appealing for the office, especially during client or stakeholder meetings.
Don’t get us wrong, though; some denim trousers with stretch fabric can make the cut for a well-put-together look, but only for the occasional weekend overtime work. You can still wear jeans when you know that there won’t be any clients visiting the job site.
To avoid bad surprises, always carry an extra pair of presentable trousers to work. The requirements for managerial attire differ with every construction company. Some companies have strict dress codes for their managers and don’t allow jeans on and off the job sites.
Work Boots: Regular or Steel Toe?
Finding a pair of work boots that can suffice both for the office and construction site can be difficult. Your shoes need to look stylish for meetings while protecting your feet at the same time. Nobody wants to hurt their toes just for the sake of style. While most dress shoes look good for the office, they aren’t rugged enough to handle construction site terrain.
Both male and female construction site managers prefer switching between two pairs of shoes. One pair of nice-looking dress shoes for the office and meetings, and a pair of safety boots, leather boots, or steel-toe boots for more rugged work on the job sites.
If you decide to stick to a single pair, aside from comfort, safety, and durability, go for a pair of boots that are easy to clean and dust off. You should be able to get rid of any scuffs easily. That way, a little bit of wet wipe magic will save you from looking like you were digging graves all night.
The boots should also not look too rugged and outdoorsy. They should still look nice with nice bottoms and a polo shirt. Caterpillar makes both bulldozers and boots for a reason. Their brown leather boots are brilliant for keeping a professional look while masking out all the mud and concrete splashes.
If you decide to alternate between two pairs of shoes, you should get proper steel-toe work boots for site work. Caterpillar’s Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boots are the ideal rugged boots for construction jobs.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
This is pretty straightforward, as it's a requirement before stepping on any job site. You can't pull off proper construction workwear without including some PPE in your attire. The recommended minimum level of safety gear for construction clothing includes High Visibility Safety Apparel(HVSA), a hard hat, and safety goggles or safety glasses.
Hard hats are great for protecting your head from falling debris and make you, as a construction manager, easily distinguishable from other workers when paired accordingly with something more formal inside. Generally, white hard hats are for anyone in a supervisory role and form part of the construction superintendent dress code requirements, while regular workers wear yellow hard hats.
Qualities to Look for in Construction Work Clothes
1. Functionality and Durability
The clothes you pick out should be durable enough to withstand field conditions. Avoid baggy outfits like dark denim pants, as they slow you down while moving around.
Go for breathable fabrics that provide good air circulation during the day, especially when working under the sun.
2. Safety Rating
Safety ratings apply to all PPE and High-Visibility Safety Apparel(HVSA). Make sure you’re wearing the correct performance class for the kind of work you do.
If you’re supervising a construction site near a roadway, you will need ANSI Class 2 or 3 high-visibility safety vests to comply with OSHA regulations.
Work Wear Outfit Ideas: 7 Ways to Stand Out in 2023
1. Ensure your clothes are tailor-made or properly fitted.
You've heard the popular menswear saying, "Fit is everything." Make sure your outfit is tailored or properly fitted. Nothing makes you look as sloppy as wearing baggy attire. Even a pair of slim chinos look more stylish than an off-the-shelf corporate suit if the trousers are properly fitted.
Ensure all your clothes are made of breathable fabrics to allow you to work in the sun without feeling discomfort from the heat. If your pants are too big at the waist, you can have a tailor adjust them. Wear fitting shirts that don’t restrict motion.
2. Know Your Colors
Generally, the rule of thumb is to use neutral colours. Earth tones like tan and brown hide dirt better, so you can walk around on-site without worrying about visible stains. But you can mix and match with universal colours to make your outfits even more unique. Colours such as black, navy blue, green, and brown can create amazing combos for construction workwear.
3. Tone Down Any Accessories
You don't want to carry or wear unnecessary jewelry to a construction site. This also applies to work documents, a laptop bag, or a briefcase unless necessary. These items will limit how much you can move and what you can do. So leave your pop’s Rolex at home. Dress well, and only wear simple accessories like a belt, Casio watch, and sunglasses if the sun is too bright.
4. High Visibility Clothing
This speaks to your professionalism. As a construction manager, you want to look your best to clients and your crew at the construction site. As a leader, wearing a proper high-visibility safety vest can inspire your construction workers to take their safety seriously.
5. Branded Clothing
Having your brand name or logo printed on your clothing inspires trust even in your clients. It makes you look put together and gives you a tangible identity. Branding your and your workers' high-visibility safety apparel is an easy way to incorporate your identity into your work.
6. Layered Outerwear
Now that we know suits aren't ideal for construction managers, how do you balance your outerwear? On cold days, the weather can be somewhat unforgiving, so you might need an extra layer you can throw on top of your preferred work shirt.
Instead of a suit jacket or blazer, add an extra layer of hi-vis clothing on top. In the winter, you can throw a hi-vis jacket on top of your existing clothes to keep your body and the OSHA inspector happy.
If the weather is hot, you can also add a sleeveless vest to your existing clothes and throw a checked flannel shirt over the top to act as a jacket. Layering is great for looking stylish while still keeping warm at work. Pairing your existing clothes with hi-vis apparel gives you the best of both worlds: You get to keep the tie your wife got you for your birthday and still adhere to the workplace safety requirements.
7. Carry Extra Clothes
This is a rule most construction professionals live by. Always carry an extra pair of clothes. No matter your role in construction environments, you will find it hard to avoid dirt and debris.
Spare clothes come in handy when an emergency meeting crops up or you get a surprise visit from clients.
Dressing Tips for A Construction Project Manager Interview
If you’re going for a construction management job interview, you might need to change a few items to catch the interviewer’s eye. Here are a few dressing tips that can put you ahead of other interviewees and impress your future employer.
Simplicity is key - A simple formal attire that fits well and looks amazing is enough to set you ahead of the competition. Aim to dress as well as or better than your interviewer to create a good first impression. A good suit and clean leather shoes can easily sell your look.
Double-check your clothes a day before - No one likes to be disappointed at the last minute, and since an interview is important, you should prepare in advance for it. Ensure the clothes you intend to wear are clean, dry, and ironed at least a day before your interview. A good method of caution is hanging your clothes on a chair the night before your job interview.
Cover-up - The less skin you show, the more your attire will look professional. Wear a long-sleeved button-up dress shirt and tie to seal off the look. You can throw on a blazer if you feel like it as well. For ladies, you can wear a plain skirt that extends beyond the knees.
Dress for the weather - Another important tip is to dress appropriately for the weather. You can look at the weather forecast a day before to help you select your outfit. Depending on the forecast, you might need to wear an overcoat or change your outfit to warmer clothing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Should Managers Dress For Meetings?
Project managers need to be well-dressed for meetings. However, this doesn't mean wearing a three-piece suit unless required by your company's dress code. You can still look great for meetings in business casual or smart casual attire.
What Do Project Managers in Construction Wear?
Unlike most corporate roles, construction attire for project managers doesn’t need to be too formal. Both male and female construction project managers can choose comfortable outfits for both in-office and out-of-office work.
Smart casual and business casual attire coupled with proper high-visibility safety apparel work great for construction management attire.
What Should I Know Before Putting Together My Work Outfits?
Your overall look affects how clients and colleagues see you. Therefore, you want to look confident and do it effortlessly too. Find a balance between style and comfort, as you might find it hard to balance your duties on and off-site if your outfit is unfit for either.
In conclusion, dressing as a construction manager can be challenging as it requires transitioning between the office and the construction site. Managers need to look professional in meetings while still being able to dress in functional workwear on-site.
By following our dressing tips, managers can achieve a balance of style and functionality. Opting for breathable shirts, sturdy pants, and proper work boots that can withstand rugged terrain while maintaining a professional look is key. Moreover, alternating between dress shoes and steel-toe work boots can also be beneficial.
Remember, personal protective equipment is essential before stepping onto any job site. If you want to learn more about dressing as a construction manager or any other construction topics, subscribe to our blog for more tips and updates.