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Fashion Life & Style

Why dungarees should be your next purchase

Dickies Ekwok Bib Overalls, £90; Harmony T-Shirt Light Pink, £35, available from Dickies (shoes, stylist's own).PA Photo/Handout.

By Katie Wright

With lockdown becoming more a thing of the past, it’s finally time to say goodbye to sweatpants and get excited about fashion again. That doesn’t mean you have to pour yourself into a skin-tight dress and shove your toes into a pair of high heels, however.

fashion2 bonprix collection denim dungarees
Bonprix Collection Denim Dungarees, £45, available from Freemans. PA Photo/Handout.

The answer to your spring style conundrum? Dungarees. After months of avoiding denim like, well, coronavirus, the hardwearing fabric is back – and an all-in-one is all you need for spring.

Dungarees have made a high-fashion comeback in recent years, with big name brands like Balmain, Burberry and Celine all putting them on the autumn/winter catwalks.

For spring/summer 2021, Ulla Johnson and Isabel Marant are all about overalls (as Americans call them), with some very jazzy metallic variations seen at the latter’s Paris Fashion Week show.

How did dungarees go from utility wear to fashion favourite? The term is believed to originate from Dongri, the name of a village in India that produced a thick calico fabric of the same name in the 17th century. The fabric was imported and used to create workwear trousers in England, the garments given the anglicised name of dungarees.

On the other side of the pond, Levi Strauss started making denim waist overalls (essentially jeans with suspenders attached) in the 1890s, then in 1911 Harry David Lee (of Lee Jeans fame) created bib-style overalls like the ones we wear today.

fashion3 hush brier cotton twill dungarees
Hush Brier Cotton Twill Dungarees, £89; Bria Boxy Cotton T-shirt, £27; Doby Chunky Sandals, £110, available from Hush.PA Photo/Handout.

Since then, dungarees have been adopted by everyone from rock stars (Elton John and the Rolling Stones sported them in the Seventies) to royalty (Princess Diana was a fan).

Baggy styles were a massive trend in the 1990s, popularised by rappers and popstars, so is it any wonder the denim onesies are back in fashion now, when Nineties mania continues to dominate fashion?

So how do you style dungarees for SS21? The great thing about the denim staple is its versatility. While it’s still chilly you can team your overalls with a chunky knit and trainers, then on sunny days, layer them with a cotton tee and on-trend sporty sandals.


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