The coverall has gone by many names in its lifetime: boilersuits, jumpsuits, and overalls are only a few. While all these have had slightly different shapes and uses over time, they still perform the same basic function: covering a person’s whole body with a single article of clothing.
If you have ever wondered about the origins and story behind the coverall, then you have come to the right place. We are going to go over how the coverall has changed throughout the years. From work attire to fashion pieces, we have it all. So without further ado, here’s our brief history of this revolutionary clothing item.
Why They Were First Created
Coveralls first came about during the industrial revolution. During this time, they went by the name of boilersuits. As you are likely already aware, with this time in history came the beginning of factory work, which brought its own list of challenges.
One of these was how filthy factory work was and how dangerous some aspects of it were. People kept ruining their nice street clothes while on the job, so someone had to come up with a fix. While it’s unclear who came up with the idea of coveralls, it probably came from the overalls used by miners, railroad workers, and farmers to keep their regular clothes clean without changing them.
Coveralls accomplished the same task but did so more efficiently. Unlike overalls, they covered the whole body. Overalls only covered the chest and legs of the wearer. Since coveralls didn’t have suspender-like straps like their counterpart, they used a belt or elastic band that went around the waist to stop them from drooping too low and keep the weight of them off the users’ shoulders.
These garments also contained many pockets for the people wearing them to utilize. Since these boilersuits primarily got used in factories, they had large thigh pockets to hold tools and any other equipment that they would need at their station. If they had any personal belongings that they would need access to, there were interior pockets. That way, they would have more protection but still allow easy access when needed.
Their Movement Into Other Industries
The coverall’s ability to protect the user’s street clothes and the user themselves from dirt and workplace hazards didn’t go unnoticed. Other industries started to make versions of their own in no time, and one of the first was the wide sport of racing. Racer car drivers would wear these to protect their nicer clothes underneath from the dirt and grime of their car and somewhat shelter them from flames or sharp debris from a nasty crash.
Mechanics and other people who worked with race cars started to wear them too, and within no time, pit crews donned ones similar to their drivers to create a more uniform look. They would match their colors to that of the car and put the team’s name on the suit’s chest. All these ideas became standard and still get carried on as the traditional uniform today.
World governments started to notice the utility at this point as well. Many tank operators were given coverall suits in WWII to protect them from the same things as race car drivers. Obviously, soldiers didn’t have to worry about their street clothes underneath, but it’s easier to clean a one-piece article of clothing than a multiple-piece uniform.
This is where the term jumpsuit started to get thrown about as well, although usually for fighter pilots. The weirdest thing about flight suits is they didn’t start as a single piece of clothing. Initially, they were two parts but similar in design and functionality. They later transitioned into a one-piece uniform, especially once the suits become more customized to help pilots withstand the G-forces from faster planes.
The Transition to Fashion
Origins: the story behind the coverall doesn’t stop there. The public started to use these suits for similar reasons, specifically the British when the Germans were bombing them during the war. Many citizens wanted an extra layer of protection; however, these people now had clothing that they no longer had a use for after the war ended. That’s likely what helped coveralls slowly turn into a fashion statement.
However, when we say slowly, we mean it. It wasn’t until the 70s that coveralls started to become a staple of pop culture. They were most notably brought into the limelight by performers such as Elvis Presley and the Bee Gees. With the switch to fashion came some changes in design. Older coveralls were baggy with strong fabrics. That way, they had more space and toughness to protect the wearer from certain dangers. These new ones were a much tighter fit on those who wore them and made with softer cloths, leaving behind their practicality and becoming more about the sex appeal.
The initial allure of this style faded rather quickly, but they came and went regularly like all aspects of fashion. They had a brief comeback in the 90s and are even becoming a bit of a fashion statement again today. We’re sure it won’t last, but it’s interesting to see how they come and go so quickly.
How They Get Used Today
Despite their recent rise in the fashion industry and constant usage in the military, coveralls still are a big part of society today for the average user. They’ve gone back to their original roots as a practical clothing piece for industrial workers. The big focus of them in the modern world is fire safety. While people used these suits to help protect against fire back in the day, they weren’t as effective as they are now.
There is a big push for flame-resistant clothing by both workers and factory owners. This safety concern is a top priority these days, so whether your need them for yourself or the people that work for you, we have a wide selection of fire-resistant coveralls on our site. Worker safety is our top concern, so we aim to provide the best protection for all fire-related disasters.