On many of today’s job sites, women are working just as hard as men to get the job done. Women are going out in the cold, the rain, the mud, the traffic, and all of the other nasty and dangerous conditions that men do, and they’re focused on doing a kick-ass job. That’s just what they do.
But to get the job done safely and effectively, women need high-visibility women’s workwear and workplace PPE—and they don’t need it to look like frilly fashion doll clothes overflowing with ruffles and lace. They need workwear that’s designed to fit a woman’s body correctly and comfortably. They need women’s workwear that’s built with high-tech features, weather-resistant construction, and resilient design that keeps going for years.
Ladies, we hear you when you say that women’s workwear has failed you too often. That’s why HiVis Supply is happy to say that we’ve got something better to offer. Let’s lay down some straight talk about women’s workwear and why women should be rocking gear that’s cut specifically for their needs. Then, let’s take a look at the coolest new ladies workwear options from HiVis Supply and how they do it better.
Women in the Trades Labor Force Today
Women have made significant achievements in increasing their representation in the labor force. Around ten percent of the total workers in the U.S. construction industry are women, but that number includes front office workers such as sales staff and accountants. When you drill down to gender representation in the trades doing the work on the ground. For example, women make up just 3.2 percent of carpenters, 3.1 percent of electricians, and 2.3 percent of plumbers.
Why Women Need Women’s Workwear
It’s worth investigating what it is about women’s workwear that has historically been so inadequate in serving the needs of working women. To begin with, one of the most important aspects of workplace PPE is that it has to fit correctly. Protective clothes that don’t fit correctly can be uncomfortable and distract the wearer, which puts them at greater risk of accidents. In a worst-case scenario, ill-fitting PPE can even get caught in machinery.
Thus, whenever possible, women should be wearing workwear that’s designed to fit a woman’s body. Many women can and do work in men’s workwear, but it’s often uncomfortable for them and may prevent them from giving the job 100% of their effort. What’s more, it puts these working women at risk of caught-in accidents or other life-threatening injuries if their oversized or poorly cut garments reduce maneuverability or flap around uncontrollably.
The historical lack of comfortable and properly cut women’s workwear can be a surprisingly tough obstacle for women in construction and other skilled trades. Women workers’ performance may suffer if they can’t find comfortable workwear. That, of course, ends up reinforcing ugly sexist stereotypes, when, in fact, the real cause is that women often simply can’t get the gear that they need to work efficiently.
What Does It Mean for Workwear to Be Cut for a Woman?
A women’s safety vest or other women’s workwear usually includes specific cut choices made to improve its fit for female wearers. Typically, that means a roomier cut in the chest and hips to accommodate areas where women’s bodies often differ from men’s. Again, women have as much diversity in their body types and shapes as men do, so some women will be able to wear men’s workwear comfortably, but it’s crucial to have the option of specially designed women’s workwear available if necessary.
It’s also important for women’s workwear to be available in a variety of sizes that accommodate the natural shape differences between bodies. Most women’s workwear that HiVis Supply carries is available in sizes from Small up to 2XL or 3XL, so every woman on the job can find the perfect size for her body. To see a workwear manufacturer’s measurement and size guide, just click the Size Guide button under the size chart on any HiVis Supply product page.
However, these differences in cut can’t sacrifice quality. Women’s work jackets and other women’s workwear needs to be constructed to the same rugged standards as high-quality men’s workwear so that working women can rely on it when they’re taking care of the tough jobs. High-performance women’s workwear needs to be made of tough materials, have strong waterproofing when necessary, and be constructed to meet important industry standards like the ANSI 107-2020 high-visibility standard.
It seems like it should be easy enough to meet these criteria—so why is it that so many workwear companies have failed women when it comes to producing the right kind of hi vis women’s workwear? Next, we’ll discuss the traps that many manufacturers fall into when creating women’s workwear.
Why Women’s Workwear Often Falls Short
The truth is that a lot of the women’s workwear out there just doesn’t ... well, work. The biggest reason is that women’s workwear from some manufacturers falls into the all-too-common dead end of “shrink it and pink it.” That’s the nickname for what manufacturers do when they don’t really care about making great products for women and, instead, fall back on the easiest option: making their products smaller and making them available in stereotypically “girly” colors.
As any woman who’s ever worn a badly fitting work jacket that’s supposedly designed for women can attest, “shrink it and pink it” doesn’t get it done. By taking the shortcut rather than designing effective female-focused garments from the ground up, these manufacturers have often ended up with ugly and uncomfortable workwear that working women have grudgingly endured because there often wasn’t anything better available.
A properly designed piece of women’s workwear will be created specifically for women rather than being a thrown-together riff on a men’s workwear design. And it will be designed with a sleek and practical aesthetic, rather than trying to shoehorn in feminine stereotypes like the color pink—although, let’s be fair—there is some genuinely awesome pink workwear out there if that’s your thing.
Fortunately, a new style of women’s workwear exists that ditches all of the old stereotypes and embraces the real must-haves for today’s working woman. Industry-leading workwear brands like ML Kishigo, GSS Safety, and Radians are producing high-quality women’s workwear that looks awesome and performs as well as any workwear designed for men. Let’s look at some of these exciting workwear pieces.
Women’s Workwear from HiVis Supply
HiVis Supply is proud to support women in construction, logistics, utility work, and all the other essential trades. To help offer our support to women, we’ve made sure to stock our selection with an industry-leading lineup of awesome women’s workwear for awesome women. These are some of our most popular options for women’s workwear:
Kishigo JS144 Black Series Class 3 Hi Vis Ladies Soft-Shell Jacket: This comfortable and modern ANSI Class 3 softshell Hi vis jacket is designed for taking on tough jobs in style. It includes must-have features like a built-in pocket for your phone and vented underarms, plus sharp-looking black accents that set you apart from the crowd.
Kishigo S5021/S5022 Hi Vis Class 2 Women’s Black Series Heavy-Duty Surveyors Safety Vest: Surveyors’ vests are a great option for women who want extra pockets and a tougher quality safety vest, and the Kishigo S5021 is a perfect example of this practical and comfortable style. It’s an ANSI Class 2 hi vis vest made with breathable polyester fabric, a padded neck, and an astonishing eight pockets for all your workday essentials.
GSS Safety 5125 Class 2 Hi Vis Lime/Pink Ladies Short-Sleeve Safety T-Shirt: When you need a work shirt that’s as light as it is tough, the GSS 5125 is here to do the job right. This simple but effective work shirt is made from a comfy and breathable polyester mesh that keeps air circulating and includes neon pink sides that provide an unmistakable visual contrast.
Radians SV59W Class 2 Hi Vis Ladies Heavy-Duty Surveyor Safety Vest: Another awesome surveyor vest option, the Radians SV59W is designed for hard work and performance with its heavy-duty mesh. This vest stands up to the toughest wear and tear, thanks to its reinforced wear points and edges, and an adjustable cinch in the back makes it easy to find your ideal fit.
Blaklader 4904 Class 2 Hi Vis Ladies Black Bottom Mesh-Lined Safety Shell Jacket: A stylish and flexible softshell jacket that includes a game-changing moisture-wicking lining inside to keep you cool and comfortable all day. This jacket’s fleece-lined interior and detachable hood add extra protection for days when you have to outlast the cold.
Blaklader 7159 Ladies Poly/Cotton Stretch Work Pant: Durable, comfy, and built for kicking butt—what’s not to like about these work pants? In addition to abundant pocket space and a breathable poly-cotton blend fabric, they’re also made with stretch panels and pre-bent knees for ultimate flexibility and performance.
Portwest LW70 Class 3 Ladies Hi Vis Breathable PU Coated Safety Jacket: Built to help you tackle nasty weather and come out smiling, this performance rain jacket includes ANSI 3 hi vis features for unbeatable visibility in any work environment. Throw in hi vis reflective tape in a cool chevron design, sealed seams for next-level waterproofing, and a flattering contemporary cut, and you’ve got one of our coolest and most advanced pieces of women’s workwear.
National Safety Apparel Class 3 FR HRC 2 High Visibility Women’s Long-Sleeve T-Shirt: When the job requires flame-resistant protection, women workers can feel great reaching for this HRC 2-rated work shirt. Its durable Dual Hazard Knit fabric is made for durability and comfort, and its 3M™ Scotchlite™ reflective material will keep you shining bright in any low light environment.
HiVis Supply knows that women in demanding jobs like construction and utility work don’t have time for anything less than the best, so we offer just that: the absolute pinnacle of performance workwear. Working women take their jobs seriously, and we take workwear seriously—which is why working women choose HiVis Supply for the workwear that keeps them safe, seen, and working hard.
For more about how HiVis Supply supports women in construction, and to hear some first hand advice from women in the field, check out our piece on women making an impact in the construction industry. And, of course, don’t forget that we have a full selection of women’s safety gear and workwear that goes beyond what we’ve talked about here today. Everything we do is for the working person, and that includes the awesome women who are out there every day killing it on the job site.
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