Oh, this foolproof piece isn’t a staple of your summer wardrobe? Time to change that.
Of all the poor decisions we can make in life, wearing overalls will never be one of them. Occupying the closets of fashionistas and farmers alike, they are the sartorial equivalent of minding your business. They don’t overpromise. They don’t mislead. As an all-in-one outfit, they reliably fulfill their purpose to make getting dressed much easier. And though often met with trepidation, their staying power is unmatched.
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They were controversially trending last summer. In the fall, they were named one of the season’s most surprisingly “sought-after” wardrobe items. As we re-enter a new season, overalls — in their many forms — are yet again in fashion’s favour, as evidenced in recent celeb street style. Kourtney Kardashian styled a bright white pair with a graphic tee and edgy dark eye makeup. Alicia Keys wore a midriff-baring low-slung iteration with a bedazzled bralette for a party-going effect. Sydney Sweeney toned hers down with running shoes and a gingham Miu Miu baseball cap, like a true L.A. wellness girlie. Overalls even made it to the 2023 Cannes Film Festival!
So why are they still so often seen as frumpy? Maybe it’s tied to their association with working in a hot, sunny field and making crafts in kindergarten. Perhaps it goes back to the oft-repeated notion that there is such a thing as too much denim. (The Canadian tuxedo will never escape the shackles of that debate.) Or possibly — hear us out — nay-sayers just don’t get overalls.
Originally used as workwear for farm work and fishing, overalls have evolved countless times through the decades, beloved by all from Princess Diana to Beyoncé. They’re nestled snuggly into seminal pop culture moments, from 2000s maximalism and 2010s Tumblr-core to an array of cinematic masterpieces. They’re a staple of Meryl Streep’s hard-working, disco-dancing Donna in Mamma Mia. While she muses over money, money, money, her dark-wash dungarees add to her overworked daydreamer oeuvre. In 2022’s horror hit X, Mia Goth’s Maxine puts a sexy spin on the garment while traipsing around an eerie farm in blue eyeshadow, a red bandana and shortalls with nothing underneath. In season 1 of And Just Like That…, Carrie Bradshaw revived her love for the wardrobe staple with a grey pair and platform silver pumps. From escapist Greek islands to slasher stories to the socialite-ridden streets of NYC, overalls can fit into any setting in 2023. There’s a word for that. It’s called range!
This, by default, makes wearing them exceptionally easy. On the one hand, the styling is already done for you. If you choose, just throw on a tube top and call it a day; overalls can make even the most minimal effort into an intentional look. On the other hand, you can make it super complicated for fun. Because they cover the traditional outfit components (pants; shirt), overalls present the opportunity to express yourself in new ways — hello, balloon sleeves and pussybow collars! True to their utilitarian origins, dungarees do the work for you by being aesthetically adaptable. Feeling particularly paternal? Slide on some New Balance sneakers, a cap and an XL T-shirt for a dad fashion moment. Channelling a feminine vibe? Pair them with ruffled high necklines, layered pearls and a floral bandana for contrasting delicate details.
All in all, what’s not to love about overalls? With no shortage of pockets for storage, they’re practical. Thanks to their longstanding presence in fashion lore à la Winona Ryder and Rachel Green, they’re dripping in ’90s nostalgia. They possess extravagant levels of roominess, but can also be cinched with a belt. Moral of the story? Overalls are great. And everyone should have a pair somewhere in their closet. Luckily, they’re encouragingly easy to find, forever in circulation at thrift stores and online second-hand platforms like Poshmark and Etsy. For more curated recommendations, find some of our favourite pairs below.
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