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Feel Guide to Fabric Weights for Workwear

Chris Doolan - Monday, November 23, 2009

Buying on the internet has plenty of advantages - huge range, easy shopping around for best prices, access to things that stores don’t supply locally … the list goes on. However it also has its downfalls, and especially when buying a particular product for the first time, many people need to know how it feels before making the decision to buy. Don’t think that you need to give up all the benefits of net-based shopping to 'get a feel' for feel though - here we go over the common fabric weights of work wear, including work pants, work shorts and work shirts, and translate the numbers to something meaningful.

Conversion table

Depending on the origin of a store's clothes, even Australian work wear stores sometimes list fabric weights differently (either imperial or metric measurements). Here is a quick conversion table:

  • 170gsm = 5oz
  • 203 gsm = 6oz
  • 237 gsm = 7oz
  • 254 gsm = 7.5 oz
  • 271 gsm = 8 oz
  • 289 gsm = 8.5 oz
  • 305 gsm = 9 oz
  • 322 gsm = 9.5 oz
  • 339 gsm = 10 oz
  • 356 gsm = 10.5 oz
  • 372 gsm = 11 oz
  • 389 gsm - 11.5 oz

These are the most common fabric weights you'll find if shopping for work wear, although there may be some odd outliers.

11 ounce fabric

The most common workwear items to be manufactured in 11oz fabric are work pants. 11 ounce fabric is one of the heaviest weights of cotton twill available, and is even heavier than some denims. If you've ever owned a pair of Wrangler jeans (some of the toughest on the market), they typically run from 10oz to 12oz fabric. Look for 100% cotton in your 11oz fabrics for work pants - otherwise you'll find that you pour sweat under the pants as soon as the weather warms up.

10oz fabric

10oz fabric has almost the same strength as the 11oz, but is lighter and cooler. Some of the quality brand of work pants blend cotton and poly in their 10oz fabric - not suitable where there are fire hazards but great otherwise. You still won’t feel much air flow through the 10oz fabric - it makes a good winter work pant. Cotton/poly blends are less prone to shrinkage in the dryer. They are also much stronger when wet.

This lightweight fabric offers good ventilation and also good strength and rip resistance. 7.5oz fabric is used for a range of work wear items, usually in items designed for summer wear. It also offers UV protection which will be a factor for people working outside.

5.6oz fabric

New weaving technologies are allowing workwear companies to create lighter fabric weights with great strength and resilience. If you are moving all day or working in a hot shed and coolness is important, there are some excellent 5.6oz fabric work wear clothing options now available.

You'll need to remember that in work wear clothing items where there is a double layer of fabric (or even a triple layer, as in work pants with kneepad pockets), there will be extra warmth and extra sturdiness. If you are quoted a fabric weight that seems especially high for an item, check the description to see if the fabric is a specially designed ventilated type; you'll often find this is the case with items like tool vests.