Over the past few fashion seasons I have been revelling in a world filled with nostalgic undercurrents. I have to confess, I am a 90’s B*tch; the era that was my teenage years and host to so many fashion faux pas.
Despite the shame shrouded in fashion elitism for many of my fashion choices back then, I can’t help but fall back in lust when the catwalks rehash the staples of that time. It’s as though my brain is responding to all the irrational schoolgirl crushes that I had back then and they have now manifested themselves into a lust for the decade’s fashion. I have incorporated the plaid shirt, the Nirvana t-shirts, the bomber jacket, the crop top and now finally dungarees into my adult wardrobe.
My style inspo for my teenage years came of course from the US sitcom My So Called Life. The show that ran for only one season became a cult phenomenon making Jordan Catalano a household name.
Claire Danes was my girl crush and I made a number of vain attempts to dye my hair ‘Angela’ red, with little effect. My other regret of the time was my inability to find a pair of dungarees that fit me. I was 5ft nothing, with a tiny frame — they call it petite. I desperately wanted to make my fashion stand in a pair of dungarees.
But my small frame denied me my chance of being amongst the fashion elite. It was official — there were no dungarees out there to fit me. It was a different time and Dublin was a very different place back then. Our high street was very limited. To buy said bomber jacket (which was enormous) I had to venture to the Army Bargain shop on Mary Street. That’s why this time round I’m on a mission to fulfil my dungaree dream.
It’s the trend that has been creeping in through the veins of the fashion world over the past five years. First seen on the catwalks of Ralph Lauren and John Paul Gaultier back in 2010, the dungaree has taken its time reaching the street-styled cobbles. We’re used to the instant fashion craze where trends are picked up from the runways and dropped instantly onto the high street. But dungarees have created their own path. The once uniform of mechanics has come up on the inside of the grid, easing its way into pole position of the off-duty model look.
A quick glance now over the street style blogs will confirm the momentum behind dungarees is picking up pace. Online clothing giant Asos has reported a remarkable 160% increase in sales compared to last year. Since dungarees graced the catwalks again five years ago their evolution has been notable. Choice has become the optimum word when it comes to dungarees, which is what sets them apart from their 90s debut.
While the dungaree may allude to an attitude of ‘oh I only just threw this on’ image, nothing could be farther from the truth. Looking like an over-aged toddler is a threat and needs to be avoided at all costs. This is why the high street has taken time to reconstruct the childhood favourite into a cult piece of clothing that breathes cool. The difference between the dungaree now and back in the 90s is the array of styles on offer. It’s no longer the bog standard Mike and the Mechanics over-sized dungarees which quite frankly were anything but flattering. At least when we took on the skinny jean there was a structure to them, a sort of sexiness to wearing the tightest of denim. So to compete the high street have fashioned designs from the full denim overall to cute printed shorts and pinafore dresses.
The beauty of dungarees is their versatility. Street style blogs and Instagram are adorned with imaginative ways of crafting a unique dungaree style. The coolest kids are breaking all the rules and wearing just one strap buckled.
Though Daisy Lowe has been spotted taking it to the extreme by going totally buckle-less, this may prove far too daring for most so no need to worry — the A- listers offer plenty of inspiration for us to follow.
Gwen Stefani is the epitome of cool: always ahead of the fashion pack. The No Doubt front woman has been a staunch supporter of dungarees long before they became mainstream, proving that age doesn’t always matter when it comes to embracing the latest fashion trends. Not only has she made the dungaree cool, but also matching them with a yellow pair of loafers has brought the preppy look into the now.
Pixie Lott followed suit, matching hers with a polo neck and wine loafers. Kate Bosworth was seen opting for this season’s 70s vibe — keeping a traditional style of the dungaree with a flared version. Worn with a high wedge the flare becomes very flattering on the legs. On the other hand, Taylor Swift chose the juxtaposing side with the skinny look while out on a date with her new beau Calvin Harris. Even though this goes against the grain of the slouchy dungaree look it works.
The once workman’s apparel has the resourcefulness of a chameleon. Denim no longer has the monopoly when it comes to the dungaree. The rock chicks have spoken with both Miley Cyrus and Rhianna spotted donning a leather pair.
As the more practical sister to the playsuit, the dungaree is much easier to manoeuvre when it’s time to pee. Dungarees are the perfect match to the crop top, leaving a certain amount of modesty for those of us who feel a tad bit too old to bare the midriff. There are so many pretty crop tops that have before been avoided and now can be loved.
Back in the 90s, dungarees were limited to being daytime attire only. The current twist in this fashion evolution is the newfound ability of dungarees to slide seamlessly from day to night.
For the brighter hours do as before with skinny jeans and wear with converse, loafers or high tops. To add a touch of glamour, take from the Kylie Jenner playbook by stepping into a pair of stilettos.
Jenner rocked up in Miami last year in a beige tailored dungaree matched with a white crop t-shirt and gold pumps. This classy, chic look brings a certain sophistication to dungarees.
The queen of the dungarees on this side of the Atlantic, Alexa Chung makes the trend effortless. Her Parisian chic style of coupling the dungaree with the Breton stripe is a simple yet effective way of effortless style.
The full-length style, which tends to swamp the smaller frame, can be dismissed in favour of the shorts or dungadresses (pinafore).
As a vertically challenged build was a problem back in the 90s I no longer have to worry about being fashionably chastised for being small. I opted for Topshop’s pinafore, left, for a more proportioned sleek look.
For summer the white denim and floral styles are ideal. Dungaree shorts are the ultimate in festival chic. Choose the pattern style to stand out from the crowd and mix with the season’s latest wellies, floral headband and sunglasses.