Wednesday, June 11, 2014

you better WORK!

Something I have noticed in fashion, lately, espeically after seeing Balmain's 2014 Resort Collection, was the influence of practicality and function in women's fashion.  Once the humble, oft-maligned daily dress of a Midwestern farmer driving a John Deere, overalls are now everywhere, having recently been given a luxurious upgrade:



Actually, this garment has a long history in women's workwear.  My mom is a bit of a history buff, and she recently got me into all of the TV shows and local slide lectures dealing with the 70th anniversary of D-Day. I started to get really interested in it, particularly in the roles of women during World War II, and World War I. I found that overalls and cover-alls were kind of standard fare for working women at that time:

unidentified Wisconsin auto factory worker, circa WW1, 1918.
The influence of this type of garment has inspired many fashion designers, including Issey Miyake:


What I really like about seeing all of these recent designers giving a nod to working women and uniforms is that these pieces are meant to be worn.  It implies a purpose and meaning beyond just hobbling around in 4" stilettos, with a designer bag draped from your shoulders.  Even if you're not working in a factory or a lumberyard, like these pioneers were doing, you can still feel comfortable in you clothes.

working women in overalls, WWII
women farm workers
African American women working in a lumberyard, circa 1920, dressed in men's clothes.

I find this trend so interesting and telling that women who wear designer clothing would want to embrace this trend.  You can find stylish overalls everywhere right now, in pretty much every form, including this one beautiful pair at APC, made from "caviar grade denim" (does anybody know what that means??)...and they are called the "Steinbeck" overalls...(hmm, if anyone knew how to write about the sufferings and plight of the common (wo)man it was John Steinbeck)

I'm loving this trend for several reasons: the equality that a pair of overalls or coveralls implies, the heritage from which it comes, and the ease with which it is re-created on the street.  You can probably find a pair at your local thrift store, (and don't forget to check the men's section).  I think wearing these types of garments really empowered women.  I think they figured "I'm not wearing a dress, I'm working like a man, so let me get equal rights, equal pay, etc."  It's kind of amazing what fashion can do, if you think about it.  Women's corsets had to be banished so that they could bend over to pick up heavy boxes and work with machinery, they had to wear trousers and overalls to protect themselves! It was freeing in more ways than one...



...Fashion as revolution? I'm all for it :)

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