After a few good runs throughout fashion history, overalls took another well-deserved hiatus in the post-Backstreet 2000s. But they’re making another comeback—like it or not.
You might not think much of the distinctive one-piece garment but there are over 100 overall-related patents registered with the US Patent Office. The trouser-style overalls design has seen several alterations and improvements since its origin in the late 1700s.
During the 1800s, the trouser-style was improved with various versions of a suspender feature, essentially adding a strap option to the trousers. In the 1850s, these suspender variations had transformed into the classic bib style we imagine when referring to overalls today, though patents for this feature did not appear for another decade.
Elements of the overalls, like the copper rivets, bib pocket, and buckle loops were patented to improve the utility of the garment, but are now iconic features of modern day overalls.
- Rivets: These little copper accents are not just for looks—copper rivets were patented in 1873, invented by Jacob Davis to strengthen canvas pants.
- Buckle loop/clasp: Originally, the suspender style overalls used a button to secure the “straps” to the waist and bib of the garment. A shift from the late 1800s to early 1900s introduced more and more loop or clasp fastener variations, causing an influx of associated patents.
- Bib pocket: Around 1915 the centered bib pocket appeared. Patents indicated this should be used for tools and personal belongings. Some of the variations included separate compartments with specific intent for items like a watch or handkerchief.
- Game day design: Patented in 2005, this bold, vertically-striped game day design is instantly recognizable, founded to make sure fans “Stand Out in the Crowd”.
The history of overalls is jam-packed with patents featuring additions, improvements, and style points. Although Mario and Luigi may have missed the memo, overalls may not always be in fashion, but they’re back for now and are sure to bring another round of patents with them.