Overalls have stood the test of time and served their wearers well. A pair of bibs suggested ruralness and farming. This was illustrated by the famous painting of Grant Wood’s American Gothic, where the stern farmer and his wife stand with a pitchfork and he is wearing a bib overall.
Bib overalls were introduced in the late 1890’s and became popular with the farmer. When my Grandfather took his family to Norway to visit in 1909, he brought along denim bib overalls as gifts for his brothers there, but these weren’t accepted as well in Norway. He would ask his brothers, “Aren’t you going to wear your overall today?” they would hem and haw and say, ” No, not today.” They felt Norwegian work clothes should remain dark woolen trousers with long sleeve shirts, not overalls.
In the 1900’s OshKosh B’Gosh of Wisconsin began selling bib overalls in children’s sizes so kids could dress like their dads. The standard school clothes for boys in the 30’s and 40’s was bib overalls, especially in the rural schools.
An interesting quote from Thomas Edison mentions overalls – “Opportunity is missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
By Doris Stensland, October 2014