Overalls: Yay or Nay?

This isn’t the first season we’ve seen the resurgence of overalls, but with such a push towards 70s, 80s and 90s fashion, it’s summer 2011 that’s made them less of a novelty and more of a must-wear. So how do you don overalls without looking like you’re en route to an all-ages dance at the YMCA? Simple: follow these simple rules. And if you’re not particularly inclined to channel your inner elementary school go-to, rest assured that there are alternatives.

Good Fit 
Like with any controversial style, you’ll want to make sure that your overalls fit you well and in no way bunch at the crotch, butt or hips. The best way to check? Take your mother’s advice from many moons ago: if you can crouch down or bend over comfortably, you’re in the clear. If not? It’s time to go up a size or consider a jumper or overalls-inspired dress.

Decent Length
While full-length overalls were brought back this spring thanks to our love affair with the disco era, summer hardly calls for extra fabric or unnecessary length. That said, if you’re hoping to don a pair of overall shorts, it’s crucial to look less like Liz Lemon and more Studio 54. And while short-shorts aren’t always in your (or my) comfort zone, simply don a pair of tights underneath, and pair with wedge ankle boots and a tank top to keep your ensemble looking both classy and summer appropriate.

Wearing What With What
It’s possible for overalls to anchor an outfit “ provided you don’t go overboard with any other pieces or make them seem costume-y or over-the-top. If you want your overalls to stand out, pair them with a basic tank or t-shirt, grab a long grey cardigan, and head out the door. But if you’re hoping to make them the neutral to a charismatic ensemble, opt for a safe style (like the traditional flared jean) in a standard wash, and let your blouse and shoes speak for themselves.

This probably won’t come as a shock, but it’s not always wise to don a pair of overalls “ particularly because few styles will ever be appropriate for anything other than events lacking a dress code. Thankfully, it’s possible to dress overalls up (particularly if worn as a dress), so if you’re heading to an event that doesn’t scream formal, embrace the novelty aspect and don a sheer overlay or layers of jewelry (oversized necklaces, layers of bracelets). But the best rule to follow? If you don’t think they’ll be appropriate, they probably won’t be. And the last thing you want is to find yourself at a dinner party while channeling the best of 1976.

This season, check out Urban Outfitters’ Denim Overalls, $39.99. Available at Urban Outfitters.

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Tags: 1970s style, 1990s style, Fashion, Marc Jacobs, overalls, Spring Summer 2011, trends in summer 2011, wearing overalls

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