Time for a few more answers to queries from Ask Me Anything! 2011. This time out I got some questions relating to the overalls, so here are a few of those.
Lynn asks: Can you remember your first pair of overalls? Wax nostalgic.
I can vaguely remember them. I was quite little, in the preschool age, if memory serves. I wore the living heck out of those things. I don't remember the brand, but I remember that for some weird reason, I liked them tight. No idea why...especially since, for as long as I can remember now, I don't like tight clothing much at all. I recall that they had the standard buttons to which the buckles fasten, and then there were two atop the bib pocket (like on the pair of Dickies I'm wearing over there, in the sidebar photo in the "Your Humble Narrator" section), and for some reason I thought that the lower buttons were where you hooked the buckles. (Hey, I was four, and I might not have been the intellectual marvel you now know. Stop laughing!) But this practice ended up in one or both of those buttons occasionally ripping off, so my mother was often sewing the stupid thing back on. Until finally they decided that I had outgrown those overalls, and got me a bigger pair. I think.
My overalls memories don't start becoming more clear until high school and college, when I started wearing them in public. That resulted in a few conversations of the "Huh, I didn't know you wore overalls" type...and then, people pretty much stopped commenting on them. Of course, this was Iowa, where seeing people in overalls isn't exactly like seeing rogue pachyderms in Central Park.
And a reader named Jenny sent in a bunch of detail-related queries:
Enquiring minds want to know:
Button fly or zipper fly - which do you prefer on overalls?
What's better on the sides of your overalls, 2, 3, or 4 buttons? Whatever
your choice, why is that better than the others.
Buttons: copper, nickel or other? Which is better?
Last question. If you were a late twenties gal like myself, who
unfortunately missed the overalls glory years of the 1990s, what brand
would you recommend which you can actually get today?
I have to admit that I don't have a whole lot of preference on details like this! The type of fly doesn't matter much to me...unless it's a fake fly entirely, in which case I've purchased a pair of overalls from an eBay seller who doesn't know a man's pair from a woman's pair. Yes, this has happened. I thought I'd scored on an awesome pair of white Lee overalls, only to have them turn out to be women's overalls. The Wife now owns those. They fit her a lot better, anyway.
Side buttons -- thinking about it, I've never owned a pair with four buttons. That would seem a tad like overkill. Most of mine have two; three was more prevalent on pairs from places like Gap and Old Navy, back in the 90s when overalls were popular. I used to own six or seven pairs from Gap, but I scaled that back when I lost quite a bit of weight a few years ago, and now the only Gap overalls that I own are the ones pictured in the sidebar pic at the bottom (the one where I'm wearing the green tie-dyed hoodie). Those have two side buttons, actually, as do my Dickies, Lee, and Key overalls. Generally I leave the top pair of buttons unfastened, for comfort reasons.
As to the metal comprising the buttons -- I generally don't care about that, either. My Gap overalls have silver hardware; my Dickies mostly have dark bronze-colored hardware; my Lee and Key overalls have gold hardware. Again, no real preference here.
I will say, though, that in general I like overalls that look functional; like they're actual workwear or could be. The "busier" they look, the less I like them (which is why I don't own any pairs by Liberty; there's just too much going on there on the bib). I just like them basic, and comfortable.
As for recommending overalls for women, well...I know they're starting to show up in stores again now, but I don't really know what brands are out there. Personally, though, I'd just recommend going the vintage route. Clothes from the 90s could be considered "vintage" now, right? I'm putty in The Wife's hands when she wears a pair of these Old Navy overalls, and my favorites ever on her are these Gap ones. Or you could go really vintage, as this blogger did, with great results.
And remember, in my opinion, overalls are "flattering" -- for a different idea of what "flattering" means.
More answers to come!