That the best overalls are from Dickies, a workwear brand started in Forth Worth, Texas, in 1922, comes as no surprise. The brand is utilitarian, classic, and a mainstay of the normcore look: In 2016, it did a collaboration with Opening Ceremony that included corduroy pants, carpenter jeans, and the pièce de résistance, a pair of pin-striped overalls. The overalls are seen regularly on famous and fashionable people, like Eminem (famous) and Carrie Bradshaw (fashionable).
A woman interested in purchasing Dickies has a number of options: You can spend $127 at ASOS for a tailored pair, $79 at Urban Outfitters for a cropped-at-the-ankle version, or $110 for a pale pink pair at Opening Ceremony. Or you can buy a classic men’s pair from Amazon for $35.
In theory, of course, the last option is the obvious choice: You won’t have spent over $100 on something you could buy elsewhere on the internet for a quarter of the price. The problem is, of course, whether they’ll look anywhere near flattering. In my experience, it is possible to make utilitarian menswear work on a woman’s body: Last year, I purchased a pair of men’s Dickies painter’s pants for $19.97 at a surplus store in Arizona, and after a single go-round in the dryer they fit perfectly (a slightly feminized version of the same pants sell on Urban Outfitters for $59 plus tax and shipping. Ha.).
But I got to test those in person — not buy them online sight unseen. Ever the intrepid service journalist, I decided to order a pair of the Amazon Dickies to see if $35 men’s overalls would work on me — if they did, I figured, I could conclusively tell you, the readers of the Strategist, not to bother with the slightly feminized, extremely up-charged versions for sale on Urban and ASOS. I am five-foot-six, a women’s size four or six, and ordered the Dickies Hickory Stripe Bib Overalls in the smallest size available: a men’s 30 W by 30 L, the same size I bought the painter’s pants in.
When they arrived, I slipped them on in the bathroom at work. They were long, and slightly loose on the top, but I was impressed by how well they fit my legs, hips, and butt. I cut about six inches from the legs so they’d be cropped at the ankle, and tightened the straps as far as they’d go. There was still a little excess fabric in the chest, but otherwise, they looked great, in a slouchy, weekend-ish way. And best of all: I suspect that after a few washes, they’ll become nicely soft and worn, like a vintage store find but without the hassle of the hunt.
And the painter’s pants, which I wear high-waisted and cuffed.
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