27 August, 2011
AROUND THE GLOBE folks call them dungarees, latzhose, snekkerbukse, salopette, owerol, overoles or obaoru, but they’re as American as American can be. We call them bib-and-brace overalls, or most often, just overalls. Their forerunners were the slops worm by 1700s frontiersmen, but the overalls we know today arose out of the American Industrial Revolution in the 1890s. By the 1900s bib overalls were the garment of choice for the supermen and superwomen of American industry.
It was a time when we could do anything. Courageous and mighty Americans wearing overalls tamed the wilderness, laid railroad track from coast to coast, dammed raging rivers, raised steel towers to the heavens and built the planes, tanks, and battleships that defeated the threat of fascism. If it involved American greatness, the grit, determination and muscle that accomplished it were clad in overalls.
This is why overalls are much more than a metaphor of American greatness. Overalls are American greatness. They are inseparable. Overalls become passé in times like ours when Americans doubt that we will ever do great things again. It is not known with certainty whether the slippage in American greatness caused overalls to go out of fashion, or whether overalls going out of fashion caused the slippage in American greatness. It doesn’t matter, really, because if you bring back the one you will also bring back the other. Some folks in today’s Overalls Movement are champions of bib overalls because of their love for American greatness. With some it is the other way around, but it all comes out to the same thing in the end.
Do not hesitate, friends, to step out proudly in your old overalls, or to find new ones at finer merchants everywhere. Dawn the uniform of your strong and hearty countrymen and women from across this great-once-more nation.