Imagine for me, if you can, this scenario. The alarm blazes. Monday morning. Grey day. The patter of rain outside. The snooze button is a siren song, and you fall to her. Once, twice, three times you snooze. Animalistic in your den, the thick shroud of sleep dulls you to earthly concerns until you awake with a start, human again, and fully cognizant that you are now late. Late for work, late for a grey day. You emerge from your cocoon, cold and ready to be defeated.
But from the wardrobe – a glimmer of resistance. A silver stud glints in the dim light. A fold of thick, durable fabric, ready to absorb a days’ worth of farts and spills with good cheer. A loyal companion, offering you the freedom to sit splay-legged, to high kick without exposing your precious nethers, to spend the day resplendent in easy, loose material that never judges. The lord of the outfits and he's been your friend through many dangers.
Your overalls. You slip them on in two shakes of a lamb’s tail and float out the door in a haze of comfort and style.
The humble overall. Also known as dungarees, coveralls, rompers, shortalls to name but a few of it's monikers.
If the overall were to be given an energy rating by the energy rating people, Energy Rating, it would be six stars. If the overall was a theory of social organisation, it would be communism. If the overall were an architectural movement that defined the 20th century it would, of course, be modernism. Form ever follows function.
But it is none of those things, it is simply the best thing fashion ever invented. The great equaliser between gender, race, religion – underneath our breezy, comfortable overalls we are all the same.
But from whence did these magical items hail? They surely are not an invention of man, so impractical is he. Man, with his high heels and fiddly buttons and pockets that look real but are malicious lies. He couldn’t have imagined a garment that sits like a second skin but also graces the fashion front row with ease.
Wikipedia says they started as shin-guards, preventing gentlemens' shiny boots from getting scuffed while horse riding and slowly worked their way up the body, protecting more aristocratic legging and ruffle until the modern pant and bib model emerged in the mid-1700s.
It was immediately co-opted by the peasantry who know a thing or two about practicality. Known colloquially as ‘slops’, the first documented use of the word ‘overall’ was in 1776, in reference to the American military uniforms which incorporated the overall style. They went on to become the preferred uniform of hippies in the 60s and 70s. Later, Justin Bieber would rock a pair while meeting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Ahhh, overalls have certainly seen some crazy things.
Maybe they were gifted to us by benign time-travelling aliens, so save us hours of matching endless pant – shirt – skirt combinations, freeing us to focus on science and social progress and politics.
One thing is certain. The current swell in popularity for the overall is welcome but reactionary. Politics in America, regardless of who you support, is a farce. Politics at home isn’t much better. The oceans are rising, the forests are falling, and our attention spans are shorter than the Vines we loved and lost.
In these dark times, it makes sense that we lean on the durable overall for support. It’s the fashion item that must define our generation if we’re to have any hope of steering our planet away from the fiery maw of hell. Do away with all your vain illusions of fashion, people! Your separate pant and shirt combinations are a vanity, a strategic distraction from your own oppression and destruction! Embrace the comfort and practicality of the overall! Vive la overall!*
*lol jokes, everything’s fine. Overalls are great though.