Channeling Junior Samples
This time, I was convinced that I had found an article of clothing that had nothing to do with the military.
I was wrong.
In my life, I have always associated bib overalls with farming and most closely with the character Junior Samples from Hee Haw.
When I started researching for this blog post, I fully expected to learn how farmers needed big pockets to keep up with some farming item and that the side buttons were added so that somehow farmers could get to the bathroom more easily as they were likely wearing long-johns. None of that happened.
The story of coveralls starts with footwear. I know, strange, right? But it does.
Around 1650, American soldiers wore knee britches as they were in fashion. This left socks and shoes exposed and in need of a garment. As a result, spatterdashes came along as the solution. These were a sort of shoe covering that either buckled or buttoned under the sole of the shoe or boot, keeping mud and water out of the footwear and stockings and britches from getting messy. These spatterdashes were used by cavalry and foot soldiers. Before long, civilians discovered the good use and these items become mainstream.
Around the 1750s, spatterdashes were an official part of a military dress uniform. Before long, civilians realized that these items would be even better if they were extended to the waist to cover everything from there down. In the new garments, a seat, crotch and fall front were added.
Interestingly, the French also adopted this attire which they called pantalons á cheval. This term evolved into pantaloons and eventually pants as the bottom portion covering the shoes shortened to just below ankle length. (Who knew that’s where we got pants from?)
Original military overalls (from waist to shoe cover) were made of linen (for summer) and wool (for winter). Around 1800, cotton canvas, duck and denim replaced other fabrics as these materials were cheaper and more durable.
Fairly soon, one company begin to stand out as the leader. Levis added cooper rivets to stress points making overalls even more durable. These became the first blue jeans.
From here, things begin to change in a number of directions. In addition to jeans, we begin to see coveralls, which had sleeves and the bib overall, which today we sort of associate with farmers or like I do with Junior Samples.
Now, in order to understand how we made the jump from a pair of jeans to a pair of bib overalls, it’s important to know that many professions used aprons as a part of their “uniforms.” It doesn’t take much to envision how the apron became attached to the pants, creating the bib overall.
For me, overalls will always be closely associated with my agricultural roots and in particular, Junior Samples as he preformed his used car skits (like this one), urging folks to call him at BR5-49.
Learning the history of clothing never ceases to amaze me! (If you are interested, find a very thorough theses about it here).
Until next time – HeHe a HeHe Haw!