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Workwear that became fashion

During the World War II many civilians were busy on the home front. Blue, gray or green, after a week of going the extra mile, railroad workers and farmers could not tell what the original color of their pants was. Those working in factories complained that their work clothes wore-off quickly. Manufacturers of workwear such as Levi’s and Lee had a solution. They reminded Americans of denim, a fantastic heavy cotton fabric known for its durability, and offered a range of denim work clothes.

Coverall – a long-sleeved, one piece suit which was extremely comfortable and provided plenty of pocket space for tools. It was adopted by aircraft maintenance personnel and pilots.

Overall – a suit with shoulder straps which was usually worn over a plaid or the classic blue chambray work shirt. Worn for farming, bricklaying, attending high-school or on vacation denim overall had plenty of uses.

Trousers – classic loose fit, hard-wearing denim Jeans with copper rivets on the corners of their pockets. Because two pieces were rarely dyed exactly the same shade, manufacturers ordered a deeper indigo blue, which has remained the standard color.

However, denim was not a wartime invention. Blue Jeans had been in production for more than 50 years. Except for the color of the fabric and the copper rivets most designs were exactly the same as decades before. Used widely among gold miners, cowboys and even college students, jeans were the answer to the clothing needs of many families. They were not cheap, but they were worth the money. As advertised, jeans could be restored to reasonable good looks with very strong soap and little attention to usual washing and drying instructions. Denim workwear together with a work shirt soon became a standard outfit for most assembly-plant and factory workers.

It was not uncommon to see men and women dressed alike with denim overall pants and plaid shirts. Rosie the Riveter made blue denim pants so popular among the ladies that several feminine styles were designed and manufactured. Women’s jeans have been in the U.S. market ever since. Ladies who first tried on jeans were surprised by how flattering they were to their figures. Jeans were like corsets pulling the stomach in and making the backside look just perfect. “Some people think it was Marlene Dietrich who put American women in pants. Others credit Levi Strauss”, Andrew Hamilton wrote for an American magazine Coronet. One way or another, blue jeans were declared an essential commodity and became another national symbol.

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Workwear that became fashion


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