With the staple all-in-one appearing on catwalks season after season, the question of how to wear dungarees – and stay current – continues to resurface. These garments have broken away from their all-American aesthetic, reflecting the playfulness of modern fashion with their inherently offbeat sensibility. Worn in rainbow hues or stark monochrome shades, denim dungarees in particular have transcended their lowly beginnings as farm-worker overalls, becoming sought-after items in the process.
But how to wear denim dungarees in a directional manner? Along with the obvious advice to keep both straps on your shoulders, recent collections have been providing us with plenty of inspiration.
Normcore: when office meets field
Normcore has long been gaining traction within the fashion industry, with purveyors of the pared-down such as Céline and Jil Sander raising the trend’s profile. Dungarees in particular, with their utilitarian beginnings and inescapable link to the stripped-down sensibility of the 90s, encapsulate this aesthetic.
Forget Will Smith in eye-wateringly zany shirts with a stonewashed denim pair, though; we’re talking minimalist and monochrome à la Margaret Howell’s AW17 show. Longline shirts, blazers and knitwear for both men and women were showcased in an earthy palette shot through with citrus hues. Take inspiration on how to wear dungarees from the designer's numerous, and slightly surprising, apron ensembles and layer yours over a crisp buttoned-up shirt.
The Theory AW17 menswear show followed suit with a similar theme – monochrome shades and blunt tailoring took precedence. The key to ensuring such severe minimalism works lies in the choice of textiles. Soft, supple moleskin, unlined cashmere and herringbone wool highlighted the simple shapes and dusky grey palette. Heavy denim dungarees worn with a dark shirt from the label would emulate Theory’s utilitarian aesthetic.
A season earlier, the A.P.C. womenswear collection offered up denim-on-denim ensembles, bringing a nostalgic edge to normcore. As workwear, the brand's black dungarees worn with a frilled white blouse is an effortlessly sharp combination. Crisp Ellery or Jil Sander blouses will give the outfit an office-appropriate feel, with neutral shades keeping the look fresh.
When it comes to menswear, lightweight tailored jackets in natural fabrics pair perfectly with dungarees. Eleventy blazers, for example, would work well shrugged over the top.
Maximalism: a spectrum of colour
If you identify with the extravagance of, say, David Bowie, consider how to wear dungarees through a maximalist lens. For SS15, the Anna Sui collection was a fusion of art nouveau and art deco, glam rock and Anita Pallenberg. Jumpsuits and overalls came heavily embellished, embroidered and layered over shimmering silk blouses. On this occasion, more was most definitely more.
In menswear, Boris Bidjan Saberi embraced an alternative approach for its SS16 collection. Sculptural shapes and exaggerated layering took centre stage on the Parisian catwalk, while a palette of smoky neutrals was punctuated by electric-blue shirts and dungarees. The mesh layered elements lent this look an athleisurewear tone, which could be exaggerated with a pair of Y-3 trainers.
A season later, Phillip Lim took the all-in-one look a step further for its menswear AW16 show, during which overalls in rich jewel tones dominated a Rebel Without a Cause-referencing collection. Leopard print trims, flat caps and dark sunglasses accessorised the zipped-to-the-navel garments. For AW17, Jeremy Scott offered a military slant at Moschino – models stomped down the catwalk in heavy army boots, palm print fatigues, cords and overalls.
To enhance your dungarees, opt for striking styling similar to the aforementioned designers; camouflage Valentino jackets for SS17 work well, or throw on a studded leather cover-up to channel Lim’s take on James Dean.
Nostalgic leanings: they're unavoidable
When discussing how to wear denim dungarees, retro connotations go hand in hand with the garments. For womenswear, think Julie Christie and Farrah Fawcett – the 70s were a highlight for nostalgic dungaree fashion, and the aesthetic has been reproduced on the catwalks season after season.
At Pucci for SS15, artisanal beading and embroidery were paired with sleek tailored women’s dungarees in autumnal hues. The Emilio Pucci scarves tied around the models’ necks were a masterstroke, as was the eye-catching aquamarine tone of the dungaree dress the designer crafted.
A.P.C. has long been a fan of denim dungarees, featuring them season after season. For AW16, however, a minimalist chambray all-in-one tucked into knee-high tan boots was especially striking.
The SS16 Greg Lauren show was a Noah's Ark of male archetypes, ranging from the wandering artist to the lacrosse-playing jock. But a standout ensemble was the greaser in his white vest and denim dungarees.
A season later, Astrid Andersen menswear gave the 50s a sports-luxe twist. Outsized varsity jackets worn under pale blue dungarees blended the rocker with the high school sports star. Opt for a pair of Rick Owens boots to bring this look into the 21st century.