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It’s Baa-aack! The Dreaded Denim Overalls Revamped

Those of us fortunate enough to be between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five in the early 90s may recall the trend: denim overalls. Whenever I think about it now, the Dexy’s Midnight Runners video comes to mind, where the singer hopped around in overalls while singing “Come On Eileen.” (Wow, did I just date myself there? Crickets chirping and blank stares from anyone under thirty-five.)

Yes, in the early 90s, young women everywhere were somehow duped into thinking that an article of clothing which could only be equated in fit to an extra-long pillowcase with neck and armholes, was the most fashionable thing to wear since Madonna’s lace socks with pumps. I opted for the even cooler denim overall shorts version. Not only were these adorable during the summer, but as the weather got colder, I rocked those babies with tights and my Doc Martens. Seriously, how cool was I? Of course it wasn’t until a year or two later, once I had adequate distance and maturity, that I realized the truth: those damn overalls were hideously unattractive!

So imagine my disbelief when I received an email today from a clothing company marketing their “old-school cool, premium worksuit.” If by old school they mean, worn by your grandfather during the depression as he worked on building the highways of our great nation, then yes, it is … cool. This new introduction has been souped up though; they kept the horrid structure—or lack thereof—and embellished it with an inconsistent wash and splashes of paint to make it look like you casually threw on the tarp you just used for your recent painting project. After you used it to scrub your floor. After it just got run over by a truck and dragged in the dirt for twenty miles. All this, for only $200.

Here is their detailed product description—along with my comments in italics:

Workwear gone irresistibly um no, actually, it’s quite resistible cool in small-batch, high-quality denim—simply roll and keep rolling into a little ball that will fit nicely into your waste basket, add sandals, try to make the sandals very sparkly and glittery so as to draw as much attention as possible away from your new worksuit, and try not to let all the compliments go to your head. Note that you will only get compliments if prior to wearing this, you would show up naked everywhere, and only if your nakedness was far more offensive than this outfit. Cotton. Slouchy fit that makes you look as if you have no waist and a baggy, saggy butt. Long sleeves. Button placket. Belt loops. Chest patch pocket, slash pockets, back patch pockets. Yet still not nearly enough pockets to patch over this hot mess. Import. Should turn around and quickly export.

Let’s make two things clear: #1, even if you are super-model thin, this is not a flattering look. #2, if you are curvy, like me, and need to define your waist due to your wider hips and posterior, this particular “style” will only make you look like one solid block from your shoulders to your hips. Repeat: this is not a flattering look.

Fortunately, another benefit of being forty is that you’ve seen and tried enough bad trends to know when to recognize one now. I really like fashion. I understand old styles become new again and trends come back. But can we please not bring this one back? Let’s spare the young women of today from what we had to learn the hard way twenty years ago. Call it a premium denim worksuit. Call it overalls. Call it dungarees. But please, let’s not call it what I’m wearing today.

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