Trend Watch: Styling a Pair of Overalls

Denim overalls were popular in the 90s and are back in style once again. We'll help you rock the new overall trend without looking like you wandered out of a time capsule.

In the spirit of full-disclosure, I have a confession to make. I, undoubtedly like many of you, had a pair of overalls back in the 90s. It was the era of low-maintenance flannel shirts, chunky shoes, and vampire-hued lipstick, and we were all on board.  You can only imagine how underwhelmed those of us who were there the first time might be by the reappearance of overalls more than twenty years later; our pride is still a bit wounded from having seen the pictures of ourselves after the first time around.

Yet this time, the humble overall has had a bit of makeover. No longer worn with the purpose of acting as an anti-establishment symbol of rebellion, first impressions of this new interpretation of the overall are (dare I say it) that, as a garment, it is both edgy and cute. After much research, a few tried and tested styling tips have emerged that should help to guide you if you are considering giving this trend a try.

Short Overalls: More Flattering, but Best for Casual Days


Because the overall silhouette of the overall incorporates a rather baggy and undefined waistline, short overalls are probably a better choice for a wider range of body types than full-length overalls. Short overalls leave a lot of leg exposed, which works well to balance the lack of definition within the garment itself. However, because of all this exposure, a pair of short overalls is probably going to read as too casual for anything other than a trip to the beach or a Saturday wandering the farmer’s market.

To create the perfect beach day look, pair your overalls with a simple fitted tee or tank top in a solid or nautical stripe , and keep your footwear flat; strappy sandals in a metallic or neutral color is an excellent choice.

For casual warm weather days out and about the town, swap your tee or tank top for a button down blouse in a feminine fabric or print. Lace, silk, or a floral pattern looks really fresh when up against the backdrop of a distressed denim dungaree. Pair this look with whatever footwear you fancy; try some low platform wedges, strappy kitten heels, or a pair of colorful sneakers.

Full-Length Denim Overalls: Fit is Key


If you are thinking about investing in a pair of full-length denim overalls, the key to keeping it looking fresh and modern is in the fit. The new generation of overalls, although still relatively undefined in the waist area, is a much slimmer silhouette than the overalls of the 90s. For the most flattering fit, the waistband should hit right at the hip bone allowing for movement while still providing a contoured fit (like a slender pair of boyfriend jeans).

Because so much of your body is covered by a pair of full-length overalls, footwear is essential. The most fashion-forward way to wear these overalls is with the pant leg rolled up. This styling trick not only creates a much needed break in the silhouette, it also allows you to really show off your footwear.

As for what goes on top, you have a little more room to breathe with a pair of full-length overalls. For colder days, you may wish to opt for a long sleeved tee, sweater, or even a more formal blouse to achieve that high-low mix. Conversely, on days where the temperatures are soaring and you are looking to keep the heat at bay, a fitted cropped top (either a tee or a bustier) both looks and feels edgy and cool.

Full-length overalls also look great as a layering piece. Layered over a tee or blouse and underneath a car length coat, a pair of full-length overalls can add a depth to a look that is perfect for the transitional weather of the late summer and early autumn months.

It’s true that overalls are not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. However, those who think they might want to give the trend a try will soon find that what a pair of overalls lacks in structure and definition, it makes up for in comfort and edgy urban appeal. The key to pulling off the look is to keep the elements of your look relatively simple as the whole in this case is really and truly equal to the sum of its parts.

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About the author

Kristin Buchholz-MacKillop

Kristin is an American writer based in the Scottish Highlands. She is a saxophonist, an obsessive tennis player, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, and holds a Master's degree as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. She is the author of the online style blog

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