Monday, June 10, 2013

A Potentially Cruel Summer for Denim Overalls (a.k.a. Support Your Local Dungarees)

(Originally published for Vintage Fashion at The Examiner.)

Summer is quickly closing in on us. The first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere this year begins at 1:04 AM Eastern Time on June 21st. We're not quite there -- but at this time of year (the tail end of spring) it's especially difficult to hear Bananarama's 'Cruel Summer' without imagining hot summer days. And denim overalls.

The British trio filmed their iconic 'Cruel Summer' video in New York City in the summer of 1983. They filmed it in August, when it was over a hundred degrees. It was their first visit to NYC. People who've been in New York in August can attest that the humidity there can be cruel.
Summers are not as heated and oppressive in other parts of the U.S. In northern California -- specifically in foggy San Francisco -- summertime tends to be colder than spring. Therefore, summers in San Francisco can be considered somewhat cruel. Even natives have trouble accepting the strange climate in the city by the bay, despite being privy to it year after year.

The idea of wearing minimal clothing for three months is generally appealing, and what a 'cruel summer' is, in terms of climate, can largely depend on one's geographical location: is it cruel because it's too hot, or not hot at all?

This summer might also be a cruel one for denim overalls. An injustice of sorts has befallen the lowly overall, and here's why. Rompers have been a spring and summer staple for years, and denim overalls made a bold comeback more recently. This past winter, an almost overzealous case for denim overalls (for adult women) was being made around the globe.

In the UK, for example, denim overalls were already on sale in various shops by March. Citizens of Humanity denim overalls appeared (as worn by denim editor Kelly Connor) in Vogue's Jeanius series in April; Connor made a case for dressing hers up in order to be wearable and more grown up. Having received so much attention, and so early, denim overalls seem a little 'over' already. Otherwise, this would've surely been their summer.

All any pair of denim overalls asks of anyone is to be worn for a little fun, relaxation, or goofing around. Their origins are the opposite: denim overalls were work clothes. Manual work clothes, at that. So in the summertime, denim overalls long to be worn how Banarama wore them: like three rag dolls kicking, jumping, and slouchily skipping along -- after having been stuck in an oppressively hot city when everyone is away on holiday.

Meanwhile, willing participants in cooler climates feel the cruel irony of longing to wear those overalls the way they wish to be worn. Come June, July and August, remember: if you're able to wear a pair of dungarees just to kick back, you should. Loose-fitting overalls everywhere will appreciate the support.