Ladies Painters Pants or Small Painters pants?
(This blog was written by Erin Stillaway and updated in July of 2019)
Working as a painter comes with its challenges and perks, as do almost all jobs. One of the most frustrating challenges when I started at my painting job was the mandatory painters pants. I’m not saying that as a painter you have to be fashionable, but I think you should at least be comfortable.
I’ve tried three different painters pants and none have been great. The main problem with them is that I can’t find a size that fits me. The smallest size I have found is 30′ waist, I need a 27′. That could be why my inner thighs get chafed when I wear them without shorts underneath. It could also be that I can’t find painters pants for women. Even online, there are very few sites that offer female painters pants and it always costs more to buy them online because of the shipping costs.
The Cardboard Pants
I remember the first day working for Ecopainting. We were at a commercial space and I went out and bought some painters pants. When I bought them I didn’t know that I needed to wear shorts under them. I got to work, put them on and started working. As I was working I came up with the perfect description for them: Cardboard Pants. These pants had no give and by the time I got home from work my inner thighs were a very angry red and scaly. I thought maybe washing them would help. Nope. Washing them made them lose whatever give they had gotten by the end of the day and back to the way they were before. Except they had shrunk about three inches in the leg despite made mostly with polyester so they wouldn’t shrink. So I resigned myself to having to wear these cardboard pants, with shorts on underneath so I wouldn’t chafe.
The Sauna Pants
The second pair I bought weren’t nearly as bad as the first pair. They weren’t like cardboard. They were like thermal pants. It wasn’t so bad in the winter when I bought them, they were rather warm, perfect for our Toronto climate, right? Being warm was better than not being able to move. Then summer came. The pants were like wearing saunas on your legs. It turned out that when you sweat in them, they make it impossible to bend your knee. So I went back to the cardboard pants. They were a tiny bit less sweaty, but they were still awfully hot, even cut off at the knee.
Females vs. Painters Pants
Sometimes I wish I could wear a pair of white jeans which I could find pretty easily in a ladies size that fits me properly. I wouldn’t even mind if the paint went through the jeans. All the other ladies I work with, hate the painters pants too. The pants aren’t comfortable, they’re hot, they don’t fit properly. And if that isn’t enough they are also very unflattering. Maybe it’s time for manufacturers to take into account the rising number of career women painters and cater to their needs too. If everything else fails and fit and comfort are a problem, maybe the solution is plain white cargo pants.
Why painters wear white
You will never get painters to agree whether they should wear whites or not. Regardless of preferences, there are many opinions why painters wear whites. Let’s go through the most common explanations.
- The most common colour painters was white. Wearing white keeps clothing cleaner for longer periods of time.
- Working outside during the summer. Light colours attract less heat and keeps the painter cooler.
- Tradition. White is associated with our trade, and like with any tradition, it’s hard to change.
- White fabric was always more economical than dyed fabric.
- White symbolizes purity and cleanliness.
- Painters look more professional when wearing whites.
- Painters whites have pockets and compartments for hand tools.
- Painters wore whites so that site supervisors could tell them apart from other trades.
- Whites with a company t-shirt make easy uniforms.
Where can women find painters pants specifically for them
Dickies is a major supplier of workwear and it’s the brand that most paint stores carry. Dickies makes women’s sizes but most stores don’t have them in stock. Most will special order it for you if you ask them. Here is their description. “The flattering relaxed fit sits just below a woman’s waist with a straight leg that won’t bind. Sturdy 65% polyester/35% cotton drill fabric stretches with you, resists wrinkles, and has an easy-care stain-release finish”
Note: a few years ago, Dickies was available in light pink to appeal to tradeswomen but it was discontinued.
From a company called Safety Girl. They have their own brand but we don’t know who makes them for them. They seem inexpensive, have different sizes so maybe they are worth a try.
From their website: “The solid, but comfortable Safety Girl Painters Pants are excellent for work environments, DIY, or home remodeling. The thick, 100% cotton material keeps paint from soaking through to the skin”.
Eve Workwear from Down Under. This company has a good selection of work clothing for women but is in Australia. The exchange rate and cost is a problem but If money is not an object they deliver internationally. From their website: “.. we’re passionate about creating clothing that is practical, fashionable and looks good for active, working women. The collection has been developed combining the season colours, unique design and an attention to detail to create clothing for women..”
We received this interesting Letter from a female painter in California
“I have been a painting my whole life! When I joined the International Painters and tapers Union, I was forced to painters pants! I used to use overalls. I’m 5 ft and about 120 lbs. I’m also now 50 years old. When I joined the Union, I was the only female painter in the Union in California Bay area!! The work force, whether Union or not, was only catering to men! It’s not different now, when buying Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). When I go to the paint store to buy painter pants, they are way too big! I don’t sit at home drinking a 32 pack of beer and eating fast food, but the men’s work clothing is meant for that! For decades I have been complaining about it to co workers!
Now I have a crew of all women working at Disney. One has been working at Disney for almost 30 yrs. She 6’2″… and looks like she has high waters! And the color always has to be white. And they had to wear a tie. It’s a union rule and whites is the law here! It’s from our painters from almost 100 years ago. The only color they painted with was white! Now I’m a scenic painter and I use many different colors! Sometimes in one night!
Painters pants are think because of safety reasons. It protects you from getting injury from sharp metal items especially on industrial and commercial work. I will have to admit, my pet peeve is about women on the job wearing designer white jeans being too damn tight (nobody needs to see what’s going on underneath those jeans your jeans are supposed to be loose!)
We do need a woman’s work line for all trades not just for the painters but also the ironworkers the carpenters, electricians and so on. I’ve been wanting to start my own women’s line of clothing for quite sometime. I do see more more women in the trades than ever before and this is giving me the initiative to do so. I would have to make sure that it’s affordable. The prices they’re selling them for are ridiculous for something you will get paint on and only look good for the first 2 days”
Holly Bates – Hollywood Bates Painting.
Note: this blog was most recently updated on October 6th 2019. The original blog was written in 2013 by Erin Stillaway, a painter with Ecopainting.