In its prehistory, the overall was not destined to become the iconic garment we know today. On the contrary, both from an etymological standpoint (the word "salopette" comes from the word "dirty") and a practical one (the only reason one would wear an overall back then was to avoid dirtying their "nice" clothes), the overall was far from glamorous. Luckily, times have changed!
From the Tunic to the Overalls
In 1844, textile artisan Louis Lafont created a work overall that featured a practical bib adorned with a useful pocket for holding a tape measure or order book, two suspenders, and wide legs for convenience. Lafont was looking for a comfortable and easy-to-make garment that could be worn over everyday clothes, both for himself and his workers. This marked the birth of the overall, although it was not yet intended to be a fashion item. However, by 1904, overalls had their own manufacturing factory, exclusively producing workwear for men.
From Agnès B. to Levi's: A Journey Through Fashion History
In order for overalls to naturally find their place in our wardrobes, a double feat of genius was required: to bridge the gap between the workshop and the fashion world, and to connect the masculine textile universe with the feminine fashion planet! This evolution took about a century, as it wasn't until 1975, with the opening of Agnès B.'s first boutique in Paris, that overalls were seen among pleated pants, cardigans, and sailor sweaters that would later make the designer's reputation. The inspiration was contagious, as Levi's also embraced the garment, playing with color codes: in their workshops, workwear blue naturally transformed into the now iconic denim.
Originally popularized in the world of sports, the overall eventually became a popular fashion trend in the 1980s. However, it gradually declined in popularity towards the end of the 20th century. Recently, the overall has made a comeback and has been seen in various styles and designs. In 2015, it was feminized by pairing it with heels, while maintaining its boyish look with a hat and sneakers. This year, printed overalls have added a fun and whimsical touch to the garment. Surprisingly, even leather overalls have proven to be a sexy option. Overall, this versatile piece of clothing can be worn all year round, including during the summer season.