(Rubbing eyeballs until they squeak.) Mama, do my eyes deceive
or is Madonna wearing dungaree overalls? Holy Baby Jesus in
a barn! She’s one of us! What a time to be alive.
(One eyebrow raised, head cocked.) One of us? Cletus, she
looks like a retired pornographic film actress.
Cletus. Celebrities have been dressing like the poors since
the dawn of time. And nothing says ‘poor’ like
a pair of ratty overalls.
bib overall—along with boiler suits, rompers, shorteralls
and other onesies—made a big comeback in 2014. Lately,
like a drunk staggering back to the party he was never invited
to, they’ve been creeping up on the radar.
in the past year, Katie Holmes, Lily Allan, Elsa Patacky and
Taylor Swift have all appeared in the pages of US magazine
or the Daily Mail or some other tabloid wearing overalls.
Alexa Chung—queen fashionista—has designed two
different styles for her eponymous label. Sarah Jessica Parker
was photographed wearing them on the set of And Just Like
That and they even appeared on @streetstyleglobal_, go-to
influencer for influencers.
get me wrong. I like overalls. I just worry what this revival
the ‘Hemline Index’ is to be believed, the return
of overalls is an ominous sign. This decades-old theory holds
that hemlines predict economic ups and downs but has broadened
out to fashion trends in general as a market weathervane.
What if the overalls revival is a canary in a coal mine?
would be fitting since coal miners—along with anyone
in a backbreaking line of work—traditionally wore overalls.
Slaves wore them and later sharecroppers. Also, women who
joined the workforce during World War II, farmers, shade-tree
mechanics and various trades. A humanities PhD candidate could
write an entire thesis on the blood, sweat and tear-soaked
history of ordinary overalls.
probably reading too much into this but the timing is suspicious
since the world appears to be falling apart. There’s
a supply chain crisis, a hospital crisis, unprecedented debt-to-GDP
ratio, a whole lot of ‘for lease’ signs on Main
Street and billions in freshly minted money causing inflation
not seen since 1982. Central banks hinting at an interest
hike to address rising inflation, I’m told, could trigger
a mortgage crisis.
asked my niece, Eliza, who studies commerce, what the future
holds. Are we talking about slow days at the Lambo dealership
or spit-roasting a rat over a garbage can fire?
No. Everything’s fine. Canadian banks are nice and robust.
Obviously, I know nothing—except this: in the go-go
80s, the dress code was Wolf of Wall Street. In the 2020s,
it’s looking more like The Grapes of Wrath.
What goes nicely with ‘broke?’ How about ‘celibate?’
Apparently, alongside the impending market collapse, we are
now living through a ‘sex recession.’ Jean Twenge,
a professor at San Diego State University, has studied all
the data and found that Gen-Z and millennials are ‘withdrawing
from physical intimacy.’ Suddenly overalls make perfect
sense because who wants to wake up to that heap on the bedroom
time to face our insolvent, sex-free future. Forget the ‘roaring
20s.’ Welcome to the ‘boring 20s.’ In your
mood-killer baggy overalls, you will be dressed for the occasion.
matter which way you slice them, the semiotics of overalls
is ‘poverty.’ Alexa Chung could have her dunga
denim woven from golden threads of Burmese lotus flower silk.
Madonna could have hers sewn from Mongolian cashmere fleece
sheared from baby Hircus goats. Kanye could have a pair lined
with ermine fur and studded with 10,000 Swarovski crystals
and still, bib overalls spell out b-r-o-k-e.
discovered this in the Fall of 2020 when it included in its
mens’ collection an organic denim, authentically grass-stained
version for $1400.
naturally, was merciless in its reply. One farmer tweeted
an offer on his own cowshit-caked, ‘authentically grass-stained’
pair at a four-figure sum, along with the line “no lowballs.
I know what I got.”
tried working class. Gucci failed. Gucci doesn’t care!
Gucci hates poverty! Gucci isn’t too crazy about celibacy
either. No money and no sex makes Gucci throw itself on the
floor in a pout. Remember the Great Recession of 2008? Out
of respect, tastemakers like Anna Wintour thought it wise
to tone things down a little—ixnay on all this fabulous
fin-de-millennia excesses and let’s embrace low-key
minimalism until things pick up. Gucci stomped its foot and
shouted ‘fuck this!’ All this minimalism is going
to drive Gucci into the poorhouse where the clothes are sad
and the leather accessories are probably Hong-Kong knockoffs.
“Gucci is bringing back maximalism!” Hence, from
its ’08 collection, this . . .
were a reliable lockdown outfit and continue to be ideal WFH-wear.
They’re a little more ‘street’ and less
mumsy than head-to-toe Lululemon and less hopeless than George
Costanza’s ‘given up on life’ sweatpants.
In 2020, Alexa Chung declared overalls her quarantine uniform.
You can read the Vogue story here. Try not to vom:
British Vogue contributing editor has shared two
photos of herself wearing the zip-front dungas from her namesake
brand. In the first, a moss green crew-neck sits underneath
her overalls, and she has deployed a sky-blue hair slide and
multiple-coloured beaded necklace to pep up her utility wear.
In the second, she uses a striped shirt as the base of a playful
look, bolstered by a large bunch of cavalo nero in
nero? That one took me a minute. Apparently it’s what
people like Cletus call ‘kale.’
bet those celebrities know something we don’t, if subconsciously.
They are supernaturally attuned in ways that helped them become
rich celebrities in the first place. Like deep-ocean tsunami
detection buoys or birds and land animals acting janky right
before an underwater volcano erupts, they know something’s
up. Should the seismic event of a global pandemic trigger
global unrest, overalls could be their life-saving defense
shield from a pitchfork mob of deplorables. Don’t kill
me! I’m just a lowly hobo. Like you. See? There’s
a bib attached to my jeans. That’s my vegetable patch
over there. Help yourselves to some cavalo nero.
some time now, overalls have come to symbolize leisure as
much as labour. Technology does most of humanity’s hard
labour nowadays. Productivity is down and the Great Resignation
is underway—all while we continue to enjoy luxuries
beyond the reach of Henry VIII. Apparently, we are less hard-scrabble
Joads and more Beverly Hillbillies. My friend Theo told me
about a comedian shopping with a friend who was trying on
overalls. The friend asks ‘what do these go with?’
The comedian replies “I can only think of two things
that don’t—women and a job.”
know overalls have always been a staple for toddlers and toddlers
are the least productive members of society next to babies.
Also, infantilism has been a thing for a while now. ‘Adult’
became a verb two decades ago—adulting. ‘Adult’
can be something you do as well as something you are. In other
words, it’s a choice which is why full-grown adults
read teen lit on the subway and don’t bother hiding
it and childless adults visit Disneyland. Which brings us
two of the most common apparel concepts, sweat pants and overalls,
swoveralls are cool, functional and extremely comfortable.”
forget about a measly recession. We obviously need this over
quickly. Welcome sweet asteroid of doom. We’ve been