Chances are that it’s been at least a decade since you stepped into your favourite denim overalls—paired with a cherished
hair scrunchie and Converse sneakers—and high-tailed it to algebra class.
But that was then; this is now. A more grown-up version of the overalls trend has emerged on the runways and is no longer reserved for music festivals (shout out to
Cressida Bonas and Alexa Chung!) and daring
street style setters. We spoke with Rachel Matthews Burton, a Toronto-based fashion stylist with Judy Inc., to learn five essential things about the overalls comeback which is sweeping Hollywood and the closets of the world’s most stylish women.
1. When did overalls first appear on the fashion radar?
Overalls first appeared back in the 1700s, but they weren’t embraced by women until World War II. “That’s when their slightly sexier, more feminine image came about—[shown] in recruitment posters of the day,” explains Matthews Burton. Overalls re-emerged in the ‘60s, the ‘80s and the ‘90s and are now a fashion requirement for the chic set, who often trade classic denim for
luxe fabrics like silk. Recently, Dolce & Gabbana, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Rag & Bone and even Michael Kors showed overalls on their runways. Celebs from Rihanna to Taylor Swift to Justin Bieber (!) have all sported the trend.
2. Why did overalls make a catwalk comeback this year?
“I think they still have an ‘f-you’ kinda feel,” explains Matthews Burton. “A rebellious, anti-establishment statement will always be a popular commentary among the fringe fashion crowd. They are also comfortable, easy to wear and have a certain sex appeal when worn right. The runways and celebrities will always have a dominating influence.”
Find out how to wear overalls with style on the next page…
3. How do you wear overalls without looking like a high school senior?
Overalls pose an inherent fashion risk: You want to look fabulous, not fifteen. Two iron-clad rules to making overalls look modern: Stick to two straps and a slim fit. (One-strap baggy overalls are a little too Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.)
Burton Matthews says the secret is all in what you wear them with. “Pair them with high heels and statement jewellery, or a hat, a skinny belt and a great purse,” she suggests. “But keep the styling simple, the overalls are the statement—don’t overcrowd the statement. And for heaven’s sake, no pigtails!”
4. What accessories should you wear with overalls?
“I would be inclined to wear bracelets over necklaces so the bib detail isn’t fussy,” says Matthews Burton. Otherwise, she says feel free to experiment. “There are lots of ways to interpret the trend for your particular style,” she says. Looking for a downtown cool look? “Pair a tight-fitting pair with a wedge bootie.” Going for more of an ‘80s feel? Choose Converse instead.
5. How do you transition overalls from day to night?
There is a way to make overalls work for day and night—we promise. As work wear, you want to dress up your overalls with just a few modest accessories, like strappy flats worn with a T-shirt and a cardigan. “The shift to night is just as effortless,” explains Matthews Burton. “Try a plain white button-up shirt for evening with a pair of sexy heels and perhaps a vintage or oversized clutch.”
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