Taking Inspiration From Working Class Style

Future trends may come and go but you can’t deny the longevity of certain traditionalist staples that still linger, challenging and shaping fashion each season. For the enthusiastic traditionalist, it’s a dream come true… untouchable statement pieces that are trended by the working class generation, adapting smarter more refined versions in today’s modern society.

Here at MFM we love an endless list of inspiration and options to match. In this style feature, we take a look at three classic fashion artefacts- The Flat Cap, The Workman’s Jacket and The Chelsea Boot and show you a guide of how to work these pieces to achieve a seamless modern look.

The Flat Cap

Dating back to the beginning of the 19th and 20th centuries, flat-caps were incredibly common and a daily staple to many working in a typical Victorian factory environment as a tradesman or apprentice. Dressed from head to toe in slacks trousers with a wool jacket and basic knit or cotton tee underneath; the flat-cap tied everything together instantly making you look smart and impressionable.

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A working class status symbol, this accessory was adapted by a range of ages from young paper boys to older male folk who loved the quintessential nature of this statement hat. Available to buy in a wide variety of colours, fabrics and shapes, this design has evolved into the 21st century whilst cleverly still retaining its traditionalist roots. Typically the flat-cap was made with English and Scottish quality fine fabrics such as Herringbone and Tweed. Modern versions have since been re-made in waxed cotton, leather and mixed fibres. If you’re a flat cap fan, you might be interested in our wardrobe essential post dedicated to the classic hat, read it here.

tibbitt flat capherringbone flat capbalmoral flat cap

wolsey flat capmusto shooting capkanjol flat cap

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Style Yourself

Keep things simple injecting denim and neutrals, complete your look with a quintessential statement flat cap.

shore leave shirtcity nappa macshawl cardigan

jay raw jeanscanning kurt geigergreen flat caps

The Workman Jacket

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Early versions of the workman jacket were made in the 1800’s; simple in style and construction detailing was kept minimal and practical. The fabrics of choice were cotton and wool; with a woven rustic appearance the workman jacket was a daily staple for many workers and militant gentleman.

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Later with fashion evolution came the Donkey Jacket, this garment dates back to the early 19th century and was typically worn by tradesmen. Made from a heavy-duty wool fabric, with a square comfortable fit, pocket detailing and leather and PVC patches usually across the shoulders and on the elbows. This jacket would appear in a few variations of dark shades, black, blue and grey; due to the dye being cheap at the time of manufacturing.

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Adapted by a succession of a series of fashion subcultures such as Mods, Teddies and Skinheads in the 60’s and 70’s; the Donkey Jacket continues to evolve with the modern times establishing a new fashion identity. Whilst staying true to its roots, its style has remained unchanged over a century, maintaining a simple construction with a front panel of buttons and flat generous pockets for everyday essentials.

donkey jacketvirgin wool jacketstrimmed quilted jacket

wool mixed jacketthom krom jacketabberton donkey jacket

Style Yourself

Create a nostalgic vibe with vintage heritage inspired pieces and finish the look with your trusty Donkey Jacket.

renewal donkey jacketben sherman shirtshoreditch denim jeans

tulse kurt geigerscarf gift setcasio collection

The Chelsea Boot

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Typically known as a riding boot, this pioneering pair of shoes was first made for the Victorian’s horse-riding activities in the 1800’s. The style was increasingly popular amongst both sexes due to the unusual workmanship of elastic, which made the shoes very practical and comfortable. Once worn the shoes were easy to slip-off compared to traditional lace up fastenings.

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In the mid 20th century, Chelsea boots were shoes of choice for youths interested in pop culture, Rock & Roll and The Beatles. When mod-mania set in, there was a high demand for the clean & fluid design of the Chelsea boot.

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Available in a variety of colours, with the most recognised as black, heel heights fluctuated with the times and the design has since evolved into hundreds of different variations.

leather chelsea bootsjohn lobb bootsbuurg chelsea boots

eric chelsea bootstobacco suedesean chelsea

Style Yourself

Let your Chelsea boots speak volumes and go for a classic understated daily look.

green flannel shirtsribbed jumperfarah drake trousers

micro fibre jacketsatchel leather canvasnuxis chelsea boots


It’s the heritage and nostalgia in fashion that continues to inspire new collections and shape fashion identities for us to experiment with. Since first production, these key pieces have made their mark on 21st century fashion, offering us an endless list of contemporary options. We hope you have enjoyed this style guide to Working Class Key Pieces, and over time you may want to integrate a little bit of nostalgia into your personal look. Thank-you to the long lost the working class folk, years and centuries for bringing us their style.