This spring’s hottest fashion trend was first made for farmers and mechanics.
Sexy celebs like Alessandra Ambrosio, Julianne Hough and Diane Kruger have been stepping out in overalls — taking the one-piece from practical to posh.
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“Mad Men” star Elisabeth Moss appeared on the cover of New York magazine in overalls and little else.
Elisabeth Moss spiced up the cover of New York magazine last week by appearing in a sturdy pair of denim overalls — and nothing else.
Also last week, “The Bridge” star Kruger wore tight-fitting overalls while heading to a Los Angeles vet. Model Ambrosio sported a distressed denim version over a pretty white tank top a few weeks ago. And Keira Knightley has practically been living in her baggy Citizens of Humanity pair since December. And Kylie Jenner recently wore a cool twist on classic denim overalls by sporting a khaki pair in Miami Beach.
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Model walks the runway at a Ralph Lauren show.
“Overalls are the fashion statement version of denim,” says Seth Weisser, co-owner of What Goes Around Comes Around, the vintage clothing shop in SoHo where Moss’ cover-worthy overalls came from. “You have to be a little bit more confident in a fashion sense to wear overalls.”
Count Hough among the confident. The singer and two-time “Dancing With the Stars” winner paired overalls with a black scarf for a restaurant outing last month.
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Demi Moore wore overalls to spin her clay pots in 1990’s “Ghost.”
And she’s not the only one. Indie star Brie Larson wore a gray cotton set to Sundance in January, Meagan Good promoted “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” in a pair of Frankie B. overalls, and Lindsay Lohan donned a dark set while traveling to L.A. earlier this year.
Style bloggers have started to embrace their own versions of the utilitarian trend — which was all over the Spring 2014 runway shows in September.
Actress and “Dancing With the Stars” pro Julianne Hough hits the street in overalls.
Of course, contemporary designers and It Girls didn’t invent the style. Female factory workers during World War II adopted the look of their male predecessors, who themselves drew inspiration from American soldiers.
According to military clothing experts Walton & Taylor, “the earliest reference to ‘overalls’ in the English language dates to 1776 in the uniform regulations of various American militia units.”
Overalls were the family’s default attire on 1970s hit “The Waltons.”
And long before the denim duds were fashionable in the 1960s and ’70s, Grant Wood’s famous 1930 painting “American Gothic” depicted a farmer in overalls.
What began as an economical way to maximize comfort during battle and long workdays has since evolved into fodder for designers like Donna Karan, who sent model Joan Smalls down the runway of her Spring 2014 show wearing a baggy set of old-school denim overalls. Rag & Bone showed a more lightweight and snug version during its spring show.
The members of TLC stepped out in overalls in the 1990s.
Weisser thinks “Mad Men’s” Moss looked amazing on the New York mag cover in his shop’s one-piece.
“I’ve never seen overalls look so sexy,” says Weisser. “They twisted the straps, took what’s traditionally a very conservative thing and made it fresh and hot.”
Cameron Diaz wore an overall skirt on a visit to MTV’s “TRL” in 2007.
Those twisted straps and omission of an undershirt are reminiscent of another sexy cover — Winona Ryder’s 1994 Rolling Stone appearance.
In fact, the ’90s were a big moment for overalls, starting with the grunge movement in both fashion and music, and later on TV. The casts of “Party of Five” and “Beverly Hills 90210” were in and out of overalls, and Will Smith perfected the one-strap look on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Girl group TLC frequently wore matching baggy overalls, whether in washed-out denim or bright colors. And who can forget Demi Moore’s character Molly in “Ghost,” crying her eyes out in an enormous pair of paint-splattered overalls?
The husband in Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” (1930) wears overalls for the purpose they were originally intended: farming.
Some say the continued resurgence of overalls is thanks to their simplicity and comfort.
“They are so low-key and look best when worn with ease,” says Teen Vogue Senior Fashion Market Editor Mary Kate Steinmiller. “Just like denim, they look best when it looks effortless.”
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Supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio on a recent outing in Los Angeles.
Style blogger Erica Lavelanet chronicled her own take on overalls during New York Fashion Week last month, showcasing photos of herself wearing black tailored overalls by Pure Addiction outside Lincoln Center.
“My modus operandi when it comes to overalls is of two extremes,” says Lavelanet. “I love the baggy boyfriend style, with tons of rips, pairing them with a striped cotton T-shirt and floppy fedora. For a night out, I love sleek, tapered overalls, and keep things edgy by adding a touch of leather and faux fur.”
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Model at DKNY’s Spring 2014 fashion show during last September’s Fashion Week in New York.
Whether you’re taking cues from Donna Karan or simply channeling your inner “Party of Five” fan, overalls are an easy way to stand out from the jeans-wearing masses.
“Skinny jeans are fantastic,” says Steinmiller. “But sometimes you just want to breathe!”
Overalls made an appearance at the Rag & Bone runway show at New York Fashion Week in September.
Lindsay Lohan paired overalls with a leather jacket and boots at Los Angeles airport in January.
OVERALLS THROUGH HISTORY
1920: Now-classic ads for Blue Buckle overalls appear in a union publication for railroad workers.
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“Anchorman 2” actress Meagan Good in New York in December.
1930: Grant Wood paints “American Gothic,” the ultimate example of a farmer wearing overalls as a utilitarian garment.
1972: “The Waltons” shows that overalls can look good on the whole family.
Indie It Girl Brie Larson wears tight overalls at the Sundance Film Festival.
1982: Dexys Midnight Runners band mates sport belted overalls for their “Come On Eileen” video.
1990: Despite her short haircut and baggy overalls, Demi Moore is impossibly sexy in “Ghost.”
1994: The ladies of TLC prove that overalls can be crazy, sexy, cool. Winona Ryder epitomizes the best of grunge style and waif beauty on the cover of Rolling Stone.
2001: TV style icon Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, wears subtly fitted overalls on a trip to the country on “Sex and the City.”
2007: Surfer girl Cameron Diaz appears on MTV’s “TRL” in a skirt version of overalls.
2010: Ralph Lauren sends a pair of baggy, ripped grunge-esque overalls down his typically elegant runway.