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The History of Dungarees

Posted on March 27 2019


Reliable, hard wearing and damn right stylish we all love a good pair of dungarees. Whether you rock the workwear revival or the 90s club kid, dungarees are a staple, but how much do we know about them? We give you a quick lesson in the humble dungaree as well as show you our favourite dungaree fashion moments.

When Were Dungarees Created?

The dungaree was first brought to light in 17th century India where the cloth used for making cheap, robust working clothes was called ‘Dungri,’ the Hindi name of the Indian village which produced this hardwearing fabric. By default when the English bought the cloth to make workwear trousers they took the name ‘Dungri’ and added a British twist naming the fabric, ‘dungaree. ‘

Fast forward to 1853, the bib and trousers came together to form the first overalls made out of ‘dungaree’ fabric. This was designed by Levi Strauss and his business partner Jacob Davis. (Which you can read more about in our History of Levis post.) This new form of clothing was ideal for hard labour and with the bib, it allowed the carrying of tools and eliminated the need for waist belts. They grew in such popularity across America that they soon became the standard clothing for the working man. They were even colour coded according to the profession of the wearer: hickory stripe for railroad workers, white for painters and different shades of blue for the rest of the working class.

The dungaree started to transcend the realms of manual labour when they were worn by Hollywood royalty, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and even Judy Garland, turning the overall into a desirable garment.

Our Top 6 Dungarees Looks

1. Princess Diana

Yup, that’s right dungarees are for Princesses too! Forget posing for your royal portraits in ermine and a crown when you could rock the 80s pastel look in light denim dungarees!


2. Ronnie Wood

Ronnie shows us how to rock in dungaree in classic 70s style. Grab a more fitted pair and team them with a vintage tee and trainers. Mullet optional.

 

3. Dexys Midnight Runners

It's impossible to mention great dungaree look without mentioning Dexys Midnight Runners. Taking inspiration from the working class of Ireland they described their style as an, ‘off the farm look.’ Layered with knitwear and belted at the waist, the ‘farm look’ can be pretty cool.


4. Elton John

It seems the popularity of the dungaree and Elton John have resurged at the same time however this isn’t the first time the two have intertwined. Elton John is actually no stranger to dungarees rocking them up until the early 90s in perfect glam rock style.


5. Whitney Houston

This image of Whitney Houston looks like it could have been taken yesterday. Straight off current street style trends, Whitney rocks the dungaree with a Champion sweatshirt and bum bag. Not only do dungarees never go out of style but Whitney shows that it doesn’t take long for fashion to come full circle.


6. TLC vs NSYNC

The 90s wouldn’t be the 90s without a band in dungarees. Pick a band and we guarantee there will be a time when they wore dungarees in joyful unison. Two of our favourites are TLC and NSYNC where it doesn’t matter what colour or size you wear dungarees will always work.


Dungarees have stood the test of time from a simple piece of 17th-century cloth to the utilitarian and ultra cool garment worn by everyone from royalty to railroad workers. If you don’t have at least one pair of these wardrobe staples then check out our range online and in store. We guarantee you won’t want to take them off.

 

Words Hugo Harris