Styling overalls in the city

Styling overalls in the city

“She could be a farmer in those clothes”, sneers Amber when Tai turns up for her first day at her new school.  I won’t lie.  Those words did echo through my mind as I tried on these dungarees – all I need is some hay and bare feet, and I’ll have the beginnings of a nice Grapes of Wrath costume for Halloween 2017.

I was also wary of what is very clearly a major trend, and one which I strongly suspect was not aimed at women in their 30s.  However, my don’t like it, don’t look (DLIDL) philosophy is a real cushion against the possibility of wearing the “wrong” thing.  As we know, I love jumpsuits and feel ripped off that we went through a long phase of not wearing the more practical version of dresses, so I figured I would give this trend a nudge. 

Girl. I. Love. It.

Firstly, I wore these to a 3 year old’s birthday party, and I was a hit with the birthday girl, who also owns dungarees and apparently has really been keeping up her perusal of Vogue.  Her mother tells me that the next time Jessica put on her dungarees, she referenced my look.  There it is – me, influencing the style of the next generation. I could finish this blog here.

But I shan’t!  The real question was – can I wear these in the city (where I spend most of my time) and amp them up a bit so that they were more me?  That meant finding a way to wear dungarees that was less “casual day on the farm” and more “impractical hodge podge of fun”.  

I am prepared to admit (to my boss’s relief, I suspect) that these are not obviously work appropriate.  I’m almost tempted to try styling them with a shirt, blazer and my fuchsia pointed heels from Ted Baker, which could elevate almost anything, but I don’t work in a particularly creative industry and there’s a limit to what I’m willing to put the good people of the financial sector through on a Friday.  (Maybe I’ll give that a whirl at Christmas time, when the dress code really relaxes.  If you can wear shorts to work, I can wear dungarees.)

I do think, however, that they work really well in this configuration.  I deliberately went with dark, undistressed denim, so that they would be a bit dressier, if required.  In this look I’ve based the entire thing around one concept: contrast. 

What is the opposite of dark denim?  Ivory coloured silk.  And what is the opposite of bare feet and a stalk of grass in your mouth? Very high, very graphic platforms that might lead to a broken ankle.  It’s one of the easiest and most powerful tricks in fashion, taking one thing and pairing it with a complete opposite.  Imagine wearing a silk skirt with a beaten up old tshirt – it’s been done so much it’s basically a cliché.  But it’s a cliché because it works, by making your outfit look more considered and perfectly balanced than that same skirt worn with sequins (too quickly becomes too much) or that tshirt with beat up jeans (not memorable). 

So what do I think of dungarees?  It’s a weird feeling at first, and I definitely had childhood flashbacks as I did up the front piece.  I think I had a pair of dungarees that involved shorts instead of long pants, and may have been a colour I recall as being akin to pumpkin.  Apparently I also lived by the DLIDL philosophy during my pre-teens.  Yikes.

Obviously, same issue as jumpsuits re: going to the bathroom, but this was really comfortable and I think it will be a good item to play with over the next few months.  I think dungarees are going to be one of those items I buy that are surprisingly wearable, and I’m keeping my eye out on Pinterest for ideas about how I can mix these up.   


I’m already confident that these will look great with a roll neck jumper and ankle boots once the weather cools off.  That means the dungaree trend passes the test, because I can see that I’d still be wearing them in a year.  I don’t really like buying trend items that are only wearable for a season because I think that just contributes to a pile of average construction and design ending up in the landfill/filling up my beloved SaveMart with boring rubbish (although the three bardot tops I now own would argue that claim is a lie, since I’ll be surprised if we’re still wearing those this time next year – in my defence, two of them were purchases early last summer, and one of those is thrifted…?).

So, thumbs up from me, and these will no doubt feature on the blog again as the summer progresses (can I wear them with flats? Can I wear them on a date? If I wear them on Christmas Day will my mother disown me?  How many farmer jokes can my work colleagues come up with if I wear them to work?  So many questions.)

To get your own pair of these dungarees, check out Cotton On.  They’re doing 30% off sitewide until midnight (NZ time) on 16 November 2016!

The shoes are Kat Maconie, which I knew would eventually go on sale and therefore put money aside for, and ultimately scored for 50% off (thanks ladies of Wellington for not being as reckless as me vis a vis your ankles).  No longer available but there are other (less discounted) styles still available.

The top is a thrifted Cooper number from Madison Rose, but any of the many off the shoulder numbers currently available would do the trick – try this one from Forever New

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