A Pro's Clothes: What to Wear to Work
Clothes make the (crafts)man! Pro painter Nick Slavik shares his go-to uniform for optimal comfort and productivity on the job site
I’ve spent more of my life in work clothes than not in work clothes. And because of that, I put a lot of thought into what me, my apprentices, and craftspeople in general wear while we work. I consider style, but not at the sacrifice of performance and comfort. I’ve chosen to brand my company with a cream-and-tan color scheme, and that extends to my team's uniforms. I've found that a consistent look builds trust with clients. Here are some other tried-and-true pointers for giving your team of craftsmen a cohesive and functional look without breaking the bank.
Apprentices. I want my apprentices to look the part, but not at a large cost to me. I outfit them with cream colored cotton t-shirts with my logo. I encourage tucking in shirts; It looks tidy, is safer on job sites, and teaches apprentices attention to detail. A belt is a must. Cream-colored painter’s pants from Dickie’s and Carhart are my top picks because they're the most durable, lasting about 6 months per pair. Apprentices provide their own skateboard shoes or work boots. I'm in Minnesota, so I like to give apprentices branded hoodies and ballcaps, too. From the apprentice level, my team is unmistakenly and noticably part of Nick Slavik Paint and Restoration Co., which is great for team building and word-of-mouth marketing.
Senior Apprentices (Graduates of my Apprenticeship Program). Here’s where it gets fun for me as a team leader! Senior Apprentices get upgraded to a moisture-wicking polo in brand colors, and custom-embroidered with their names. These folks lead a crew, so they need to look the part. I also provide Senior Apprentices with a pair or Redwing Boots or Forsake Boots/Shoes on their "graduation day." Senior Apprentices take a lot of pride in the small token of a uniform upgrade. This uniform is emblematic of their hard work and it commands respect from the junior-level apprentices.
Craftsman. As the owner and proprietor of Nick Slavik Painting and Restoration Co. I wear a few hats: Painter, Restorationist, Estimator, Sales, Marketing, Operations and general culture builder within my company. I set the tone for my business and brand, and I put a lot of thought into how I present myself when I go out for estimate and when I go to any job site. It is important for me to be as versatile as possible. I wear the same cream-colored painter's pants as the rest of my team (and I like to keep a respectable amount of paint splatter to signify my continuing practicing of the craft, but not so overdone as to look messy or unkempt; ok, ok maybe I'm a little Type A about this stuff...but just a little).
I wear a cream-colored, collared, button-up shirt. This allows for a more professional look when I am meeting with clients for the first time and making initial job estimates. Since I opt for a moisture-wicking shirt, I can jump right into helping the team when I visit job sites (if necessary). I personally like to keep branded hats, fleece vests, and hoodies so that I have apparel for all seasons.
No pro painter's wardrobe is complete without the classic bib overalls; my personal favorites. They're old-school, comfortable, and functional. The extra chest pockets sure are handy for pens and pencils to mark up work spaces and invoices. It's getting harder and harder to find painters bibs or railroad bibs these days, but there are still some hold outs that make them.
Like I said, I’ve spent the majority of my life in painter’s clothes. So to say that I’ve field-tested a few workwear options is an understatement. I believe I’ve struck the perfect balance between branding and style, and performance and comfort with my uniforms.
Here are the (specific) vendors for all of the workwear I mentioned above:
- Pants are Dickie's Relaxed Fit Straight Leg Cotton Painter's Pants, Natural Beige; About $19.99- $21.99
- Button-down shirts are similar to Bass Short Sleeve Propel; About $16.99- $19.99
- Hoodies are Hanes Men's Nano Premium Lightweight Full Zip Hoodie; About $12.99- $14.00
- Polos are Gildan Men's Welt Collar Preshrunk 3-Button Polo Shirt; About $8
- Bibs are Dickie's Painter's Bib Overalls; About $35.99
Nick Slavik is the owner and proprietor of Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration Co. in New Prague, MN. He's the newest member of the TOH family, providing pro painting content for sponsors like Behr Paint.
- To learn more about Nick and his company, Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration Co., to get a free quote, or to watch episodes of Ask a Painter Live please visit NickSlavik.com
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- Check Nick out on ThisOldHouse.com here and here
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