Many people work in professions that involve the risk of soiling or damaging their clothing. Rural workers, painters, and professionals in many other industries face this possibility. In order to protect clothing on the job, some of these workers wear a smock, or an outer garment that fits over clothes designed for this purpose.
Also called a smock-frock, this garment is normally very loose over. Traditional varieties are made of wool or heavy linen; however, they can also be made of cotton, polyester blends, and many other materials. They can vary in size, ranging from mid-calf length to thigh-length.
Smocks are normally fully solid across the back and breast, though some are tied in the back, leaving an open space in that area. The sleeves are often folded into narrow lines of unpressed pleats known as tubes. They are also sometimes decorated by smocking, a honeycomb pattern of embroidery that creates a stretchable fullness across the front. Many tops also contain pockets for storing materials, such as writing utensils for a shopkeeper or art supplies for a painter.
There are three main types of this protective top that are widely available. Round smocks ones have an open neckline as well as a collar that is round and flat. This allows the garment to be reversible, able to be used on both sides. They are also made in a pullover style, which allows workers to quickly put them on. This style also helps prevent accidents that may occur with those that have long strings that hang down for tying.
Surrey or shirt smocks largely resemble men's shirts. They have collars and sport a short placket, or fastener reinforcer, in the front. Unlike round ones, this type is not reversible. Coat smocks, which are very long and button up the front like a coat, are traditionally worn by Welsh shepherds.
During wartime, windproof smocks have have been used to protect parachuting soldiers and their equipment. In Germany, they were known as the Knochensack, while in England they were called Denison smocks. Military combat coats are still referred to by this name in some areas.
Other types include the Walloon bleu sårot and the Lèine bhàn. The former is a dark blue garment worn in Belgium, considered a piece of National dress clothing for men. The latter was a Scottish garment designed for men who broke the law to wear while attending church.