Writing for Wide Open Spaces is just one of my five jobs. Living on Colorado's western slope, I also herd cattle on horseback, build barbed wire fences, guide hunting and fishing trips for Uncharted Outdoorswomen, and teach firearm safety classes.
Unlike sitting at a desk, these gigs require me to wear seriously tough workwear from head to toe.
I need my work clothes to hold up against tough terrain, frequent use, and inclement conditions outdoors. If my pants can't pull their weight when pounding T-posts and stretching barbed wire fences in the rain, they're no good to me.
This is why I rave about the women's brand Dovetail Workwear to anyone who will listen.
What Is Dovetail Workwear?
Dovetail Workwear was founded in 2018 by landscape designers Kate and Kyle Marie and apparel expert Sara Kent DeLuca—which speaks to their multi-functionality right off the bat. Living in Portland, Oregon, all three ladies had dreamed for years about a truly functional women's workwear brand.
The company's mission: "To encourage women to enter and succeed in non-traditional occupations. We envision the future as all women fulfilling their personal potential, thriving in their work, and strengthening their communities."
In just five years, they've created the largest exclusively women's workwear company in the Northern Hemisphere. Today, their clothing is sold in more than 300 locations across the U.S. and Canada—and used by real women hauling, lugging, and digging in the field, just like me.
And it's easy to see that the brand embodies this ethos down to its advertising. Its product photos depict real women carving rock, working with livestock, and operating heavy machinery; merely clicking through the website makes me feel inspired.
The company also lists 15 organizations with female empowerment missions with which it has partnered.
Putting Dovetail Workwear to the Test
Before discovering Dovetail, I got by at my outdoor jobs wearing old hiking pants (pro: technical materials) and thrift-store jeans (pro: cheap). But it didn't take long to realize all the ways my work clothes were failing me.
My old hiking pants couldn't stand up to strings of barbed wire or pokey sagebrush. They weren't thick enough to protect me from spiny succulents or tree branches, either. Having sharp spruce needles pressed into my thigh when my horse swept against a tree was getting old.
I also had no place to carry my tools easily. Even the weight of my phone in my back pocket made my pants droop. And if I wore a belt to correct it, the stretchy belt loops meant my pants would still sag.
To top it off, most of the seams soon began to fail.
I learned several lessons from this trial-and-error period:
- First, I wanted pants made of sturdy, stiff material that would hold up against tree branches, barbed wire, and general wear and tear.
- Second, I wanted the belt loops to work so my darn pants would just stay on.
- Third, I wanted functional pockets that could hold up to the weight of a hammer, a set of fencing pliers, a walkie-talkie, and my phone.
Dovetail Workwear's name started popping up in my circle of friends, and I heard only good things. So while in town one day, I stumbled across a pair of their Freshley Overalls on sale at a local shop.
That's when my life was permanently changed for the better.
OK, maybe that's a stretch—but I was seriously impressed by these overalls. They looked great. They felt great. They were highly functional.
It didn't take long before I went online and picked up a pair of Maven X pants.
A year later, I acquired several more pieces of Dovetail's workwear.
I wear all my Dovetail pieces at least once a week—and, honestly, it's hard to tell that I even work in these clothes, apart from one hole in my Mavens and some hay stuck in my coverall's pockets.
As a woman working in the field with nearly no apparel that fits well and can hold up to the job, I really can't stress how nice it is to have workwear that actually stands up to my work.
The Pros and Cons of Dovetail Workwear
There are many pros to using Dovetail Workwear.
First, you're treating yourself to functional work clothes that not only look great but also fit, thanks to inclusive sizing from women's size XXS to XXL and in different lengths.
Their fit holds true, too. Typical workwear is too stiff and untailored for women to wear comfortably. But not with Dovetail: Their durable fabric is stretchy and supple, keeping women comfortable when work requires a lot of bending, squatting, and stretching. Their pants feature crotch gussets and reinforced knees, too.
Second, by shopping with Dovetail, you're supporting a women-run company with a powerful female-empowerment mission.
Third, if you're wearing Dovetail, you're probably carving a place for yourself and other women in a male-dominated industry—just like the founders are trying to do in workwear. Now, that's a pretty strong pro.
The only con real of shopping with Dovetail is that its pieces can run a little steep—certainly more than thrift shop jeans. Compared to workwear competitors with "unisex" sizing or women's lines, Dovetail's prices come in at $30 to $100 higher (items run $65 to $150).
Why They're Worth the Price
While price is an easy deterrent, it's important to think about what's coming along with your purchase: Those extra dollars fund workwear designed for real women's bodies, cutting-edge fabrics the brand reports are created to be 30% to 40% tougher than other workwear materials, more-inclusive sizing, and support in the fight against gender discrimination at the job site.
I don't know about you, but that extra cash seems worth it to me.
The Best Dovetail Workwear Products I Own
1. Black Thermal Denim Freshley Overalls
These overalls are my favorite Dovetail product, er, overall. They are seriously warm; I wear them ice fishing during Colorado winters, and they keep me comfortable in sub-zero temps. The stretch denim material they're made of is strong but also flexible, so it doesn't bunch up on the inside of my knees or make me feel like the seams are about to burst when I squat down. The adjustable shoulder straps and hip buttons make it easy to layer up underneath the overalls when it's especially chilly. I also have the Freshley Overalls ($129) in gray non-thermal denim. It's safe to assume I adore them as well.
My only gripe is that it can be a little tricky to go to the bathroom in my two pairs, but Dovetail now makes drop-seat overalls ($139), which solves this issue.
Black Thermal Denim Freshley Overalls
2. Maven X pants
These pants are the Dovetail product I get complimented on the most. Many women have asked me, "Where did you get those Carhartts that fit you?" My response: "They're not Carhartts. They're Dovetail!"
Even without a belt, the form-fitting, hidden-elastic waist keeps my pants from drooping. When I wear a belt, the wide loops are spaced close together, so I don't have gaps or bunching around the waistband. Made of durable canvas, the Maven X pants are tough; yet they feel great, fit great, and look great. My only complaint is that the narrow leg bottoms don't fit over my cowboy boots, so sticks, leaves, and other junk will get in my boots when I ride. That's alright, though—I mostly wear them for fencing or ranch work. (But, clearly, I need to pick up a pair of Dovetail's bootcut pants next.)
Maven X pants
3. Old School Work Vest
This warm, rugged vest is my favorite layer to pull on when it gets chilly. It's long enough to cover my lower back when I bend over in cold air and has enough pockets to hold my phone, work gloves, pliers, nails, and whatever else I'm lugging around. I wear an extra-small, and its snug fit keeps me warm without squishing me, even if I'm wearing a hoodie underneath.
Old School Work Vest
4. Hadley Long Sleeve Coveralls
I don't always need full-body coverage, but when I do, these coveralls meet and exceed all my expectations. I stay sealed up from hay, dust, dirt, and more with elastic ankle and wrist cuffs. I can cinch the waist with the built-in waistband on the interior of these coveralls, keeping the material from getting in the way of whatever I'm working on while looking like I have a waist, too. The collar keeps me looking professional in my work environment. Plus, they're just loose enough that I can quickly pull them over my pajamas in the early morning to go feed the horses. My previous pairs of coveralls did none of these things.
Hadley Long Sleeve Coveralls
Should You Buy Dovetail Workwear?
If you have a tough job that requires durable workwear, Dovetail is 100% worth it. I live in mine and I intend to keep on buying it—though it may be a while before my rugged pieces need replacement.
What products am I going to add to my collection next? The Freshley Drop-Seat Overalls, no doubt. And when my partner and I decide to grow our family, you bet I'll be snagging some of the Maven maternity pants, too.