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The history of the humble dungaree

February 17, 2021

Reliable, hard-wearing and perfectly stylish, we all love a good pair of dungarees.

But do you know their history?

Woman wears cropped leg dungarees over a blue floral print top, & lighter wash dungarees over a blue jumper & white shirt.
A harbourside village in Mubai, full of bright coloured flags & bustling with people.

‘Dungaree’ came from 17th century India, where a local coarse cloth, Dungri, was used to make robust work clothing. It’s thought to have been named after Dongari Kapar, a harbourside village near Mumbai.

Image source: Getty / Frédéric Soltan

The name soon changed to Dungarees when it was exported to the UK and was used for manufacturing cheap, robust work clothes.

It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that the bib with shoulder straps and trousers were joined to create overalls. They soon became a popular choice amongst the working class, from miners to farmers, as the fabric was strong and tough enough to provide a protective layer whilst carrying out manual labour.

Image source: The US National Archives
3 women in work overalls & welding goggles working on the deck of a ship.
J. Howard Miller's 'We Can Do It!' poster from 1943.

During the First World War, many women volunteered to fulfil the roles that were normally carried out by men, to help keep the economy running.

The women soon adopted the same overall uniform, and during the Second World War, in 1943, the iconic “We Can Do It” poster was created to boost and inspire female working moral.

Image source: J. Howard Miller's "We Can Do It!"

After that, the transition from workwear to high street fashion soon evolved, and Hollywood stars, celebrities and even the Royals were photographed regularly in the iconic style.

Dungarees throughout the years

Famous people wearing dungarees over the decades: 50s - Doris Day, 70s - Ronnie Wood, 90s - Princess Diana, 00s - N*SYNC.
Image source: glamourmagazine.co.uk/gallery/dungarees-celebrity-fashion-trend
Doris - Getty images, Ronnie & Diana - REX FEATURES, N*SYNC - Buzzfeed

To date, and especially over the last 12 months, dungarees have become a bit of a lockdown uniform and wardrobe essential within our amazing community.

Whether it’s the Lewes, Clayton or Denim shortie (for the little one – adult ones coming for sure in summer!), we’ve loved seeing how you’ve been styling it…

Image source: Instagram
Happy FatFace fans wearing various styles of denim dungarees.

… And we think it’s safe to say, that the humble dungaree will be around for many more years to come.

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