Dungarees vs Overalls: What’s The Difference?

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For as long as fashion has graced our lives, certain debates have remained timeless. One such debate is the age-old question: “What’s the difference between dungarees and overalls?” At a glance, the two might seem like identical twins, but delve a bit deeper, and the distinctions begin to emerge.

Historical Origins

Dungarees trace their roots back to India, specifically the rugged port town of Dongri. The Hindi word “Dungri” became “dungaree” in English. Initially, they were tough trousers worn by workers, made from a thick cotton fabric called dungri.

Overalls, on the other hand, have their origins in the West, particularly in North America and Europe. They were a one-piece garment worn by railroad and factory workers to protect their clothes underneath.

Key Differences

  1. Material:
    • Dungarees: Originally made from dungri fabric.
    • Overalls: Made from a variety of materials, including denim, corduroy, and others.
  2. Design:
    • Dungarees: Typically refers to the trousers alone.
    • Overalls: A one-piece garment that covers both the upper and lower parts of the body.
  3. Usage:
    • Dungarees: More versatile in fashion; can be worn casually or dressed up.
    • Overalls: Historically more functional, used primarily for work.
While both dungarees and overalls have humble beginnings rooted in workwear, they've evolved over time to claim their spots in the fashion world. Whether you're team dungaree or team overall, there's no denying that both have their unique charm and place in our wardrobes.

Defining Dungarees

Defining Dungarees

What are dungarees?

Dungarees, for those new to the term, are pants made of sturdy material, originally designed for hard labor. They’re versatile, rugged, and have stood the test of time.

The history and origin of the word “dungarees”:

The term “dungaree” comes from the Hindi word “dungri”, referring to a particular type of cloth. It’s believed that this cloth was used to make tough, hard-wearing trousers for workers in the Indian subcontinent. As trade routes opened and the British Empire expanded, the term traveled and evolved, leading to the dungarees we know today.

Types of dungarees:

  1. Cream Linen: Perfect for a chic summer look.
  2. Black: A classic that goes with everything.
  3. Mushroom: Earthy and perfect for a subtle statement.
  4. Corduroy: Brings a vintage touch.
  5. Gardening: Functional with pockets galore.
  6. Wide Leg: A trendy style that adds flair.

Popular brands:

  • Carhartt: Known for its rugged durability.
  • Dickies: A staple in the workwear industry.
  • Lee: Combining style with functionality.

Unveiling Overalls

Unveiling Overalls

What are overalls?

Overalls are a type of garment that covers both the upper and lower parts of the body. Unlike dungarees, which are more like pants, overalls have a bib-like front, usually secured with straps over the shoulders.

The significance of the straps on overalls:

The straps on overalls aren’t just for show. They ensure the garment stays in place during rigorous activity. This design was especially crucial for workers who needed their clothing to stay put while they moved around.

Types of overalls:

  1. Bib Overalls: The classic design, featuring a bib front.
  2. Workman’s Overalls: Built for toughness and utility.
  3. Denim Overalls: Casual and always in style.
  4. Colored Overalls: Brighten up your wardrobe with a splash of color.

Spotting the Differences

Overalls vs Coveralls

Dungarees vs Jeans

Dungarees and jeans, though similar in look, have distinct features that set them apart. The primary difference is the fabric. Dungarees originally referred to a coarse, thick cotton fabric, while jeans are typically made from denim. Another key distinction is the design. Dungarees usually have straps and a bib-like front, whereas jeans are simply pants.

Jeans are sometimes called dungarees because of the fabric they were once made of. The term ‘dungarees’ was used in English to denote a particular type of durable fabric. Over time, as jeans became popular, they were sometimes referred to using this term.

Overalls vs Jumpsuits

At first glance, overalls and jumpsuits may seem almost identical. However, the devil is in the details. Overalls often have a bib front and are traditionally associated with workwear. Jumpsuits, on the other hand, are a one-piece garment that covers both the upper and lower parts of the body. They can be casual or even formal, depending on the material and design.

Dungarees vs Jumpsuits

Dungarees and jumpsuits both cover the top and bottom halves of the body, but dungarees have that iconic bib front and straps. Jumpsuits don’t have this bib and can come in various necklines. The main difference is in the style and intended use, with dungarees leaning more towards casual and workwear, while jumpsuits can span a range of occasions.

Dungarees vs Coveralls

Dungarees and coveralls both originate from workwear, but there’s a significant difference in coverage. Dungarees are like pants with a bib front and straps, while coveralls are a one-piece suit that covers the entire body, including the arms. Coveralls are typically used in professions that require full-body protection, like mechanics or painters.

Overalls vs Coveralls

Overalls, like dungarees, have that signature bib front, but they don’t cover the arms. Coveralls, in contrast, provide full-body coverage. The straps on overalls are more of a style statement, whereas the design of coveralls is for practicality and safety in various professions.

Remember, while these definitions help distinguish between these garments, fashion is ever-evolving. The lines between these clothing items can blur as designers experiment and fuse styles.

Similar Yet Distinct: A Deep Dive

Dungarees and overalls, despite their differences, share a rich tapestry of similarities.

The Overlapping Traits

The Meeting Ground

Dungarees and overalls, despite their differences, share a rich tapestry of similarities. They both hail from workwear origins, providing protection and practicality for laborers. It’s no wonder they’ve been staples in wardrobes for decades!

  1. Bib Front: Both dungarees and overalls sport a bib front, often accompanied by a handy pocket.
  2. Straps: Crossing over the shoulders and clasping onto the bib, the straps are iconic features for both.
  3. Material: Traditionally, both are crafted from sturdy materials like denim or canvas to withstand wear and tear.
  4. Functionality: Originally designed for utility, both garments boast numerous pockets and loops to keep tools close at hand.

The Standout Features

Distinctive Details

While they converge at certain points, dungarees and overalls also have their unique quirks that set them apart.

  • Dungarees:
    • Fit: Dungarees are often slightly baggier, giving a relaxed and comfy feel.
    • Pocket Placement: Unique pocket designs and placements are a defining feature, especially the classic ‘carpenter’s pocket’ on the side leg.
    • Length: They can be full-length or cropped, offering a versatile range of styles.
  • Overalls:
    • Bib Length: Overalls often have a longer bib, reaching further down the torso.
    • Strap Style: The straps on overalls tend to be wider and more robust, reflecting their workwear heritage.
    • Variety: Overalls come in a myriad of styles, from the classic workman’s version to fashionable colored ones for a trendy look.
As we delve deeper into the world of dungarees and overalls, it's clear that while they share common ground, they each have their own unique flavor. Whether you're a dungaree devotee or an overall enthusiast, there's a style out there for everyone!

Worldwide Terminology

When you step outside your homeland, it’s quite a trip to realize that the words you’ve always used might mean something entirely different elsewhere. This is especially true when it comes to fashion. Take dungarees and overalls, for example.

Dungarees in Different Languages

Names Across the Pond

You know, it’s funny how the same piece of clothing can have different names depending on where you are. In the UK, those handy pants with a bib? They call ’em “dungarees.” But hop on over to the US, and suddenly, they’re “overalls.” Talk about a transatlantic game of fashion telephone!

Dungarees in Different Languages

Ever been curious about how other cultures name these iconic garments? Here’s a quick round-up:

  • English: Dungarees
  • German: Latzhose (Sounds fancy, right?)
  • Spanish: Petos (Kinda rolls off the tongue!)
  • French: Salopette (Sounds so chic!)

But regardless of what you call them, the love for these versatile pants is universal!

So next time you’re planning a trip and want to buy some dungarees or overalls, remember to brush up on the local lingo. You wouldn’t want to end up with a pair of socks when you were looking for some snazzy pants, right?

Fun Facts & Tidbits

The term "dungarees" can be traced back to the Hindi word "dungri," which refers to a particular type of coarse calico fabric originating from the Dongri area of Mumbai, India.

Origins and History

1. Etymology of “Dungarees”:
The term “dungarees” can be traced back to the Hindi word “dungri,” which refers to a particular type of coarse calico fabric originating from the Dongri area of Mumbai, India. This fabric was commonly used to make robust work pants for laborers.

2. Overalls – A Literal Name:
The name “overalls” is pretty straightforward. These garments were designed to be worn over regular clothes to protect them during work. Thus, they were literally worn “over all” other clothing.

3. Dungarees’ Nomenclature:
Why are dungarees named so? The name can be attributed to the dungri fabric, which was exported to English-speaking traders and colonists in the 18th century. They began using the term “dungaree” to describe not just the fabric but also the type of clothing made from it.

Fashion Forward

4. Evolution in the Fashion World:
Dungarees and overalls weren’t always the fashion statements they are today. Originally, they were designed for practicality, offering protection to workers in fields, factories, and mines. However, by the 1960s and 1970s, these garments began to be embraced by the mainstream as symbols of rebellion and freedom. Fast forward to today, and they’re celebrated on high-fashion runways and worn by style icons around the world.

5. Modern-Day Variations:
While the classic blue denim dungaree or overall remains popular, today’s fashion-forward individuals have a plethora of options to choose from, including pastel colors, patterns, and even glittering sequined versions for those looking to make a bold statement.

6. The Big Screen Influence:
From the rugged look of James Dean to the playful appearance of Minions, dungarees and overalls have made their mark in Hollywood. They’ve been a costume choice for various characters, symbolizing everything from the working class to innocence and adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are dungarees and overalls the same?

1. Are dungarees and overalls the same?

No, they’re not. While both are full-body garments with attached straps, dungarees typically refer to a type of denim pants, while overalls can refer to a broader range of protective clothing, often with a bib front.

2. What’s the difference between dungarees and overalls?

Dungarees are usually made of denim, have a bib front, and are considered a type of casual wear. Overalls, on the other hand, are more of a workwear garment, often with a broader bib and sometimes additional pockets or features for tools.

3. What are short overalls and short dungarees called?

Short overalls are often referred to as “shortalls,” while short dungarees might simply be called “dungaree shorts.”

4. Are overalls considered pants?

It’s a bit of a gray area. Overalls cover the entire upper and lower body, so they’re more than just pants. However, they’re often categorized alongside pants in stores and fashion discussions because they serve a similar primary function of covering the legs.

5. What is a dungaree dress called?

A dungaree dress is typically called a “pinafore” or a “jumper” in some regions.


Wrapping up, the world of dungarees and overalls is vast and varied. Both garments have rich histories and have evolved over time to fit the needs and fashion senses of different cultures and generations.

Whether you’re a fan of the classic blue denim dungaree or the more rugged workman’s overall, there’s no denying the impact these pieces have had on fashion and functionality. So, why pick sides? Embrace both, mix and match, and make them uniquely yours. After all, fashion is all about expressing yourself, and what better way than with these iconic pieces?