I am SO HAPPY to be writing about dungarees. I flipping’ LOVE them. I have six pairs, with a seventh on order. So, you know, I know my onions when it comes to this particular style of all-in-one. But it’s not always been plain sailing when it comes to finding a pair that work for my body, nor are they particularly easy to style (especially when you have a penchant for brightly coloured striped tops and run the risk of looking like a children’s TV presenter from the 1970s), which is why I wanted to impart what I have learnt along the way to acquiring such a large collection.
Firstly, at 5ft3, there are many styles I have to rule out completely. It’s not just that the legs are too long (and in any case, with denim you can always roll up or chop off the ends), but that the body is too long, too. Any dungarees worth my consideration need a decent strap adjustment system and not too much bib. And since I am also larger of boob than I used to be, I have to go for wider bibs as well, as I’m not keen on flashing too much side boob.
Levi’s dungarees, £95 (no longer available, try levi.com for the same style in a different wash); COS stripe shirt, £59 (no longer available, try cosstores.com for the white version); M Hulot bag, £170 (gift; mhulot.co.uk); Dukes Boots Chelsea boots, £169.95 (gift, dukesboots.com)
PHOTOGRAPHY: ZAC FRACKELTON
These from Levi’s work really well for me for all those reasons, with the added bonus that they are nice and nipped in at the waist, and I need a bit of help in that area, too. Plus, as is always the case with Levi’s, they are a really flattering shape on the bum. I really like wearing a print under my dungarees, but I find that shirts are a little more flattering on my figure than jersey tops. This one from COS, for example, is ideal as it is fitted on the waist, and gives the dungarees a bit more of a polished edge than a simple T-shirt.
The two other options I’ve featured below are versions of pairs that I have in my collection and love. Kate Sheridan currently has 5 colour options of her gorgeous dungarees available on her website. As you can see, they are slightly cropped with a high waist, which I find works really well for me. I wear size Medium in my navy corduroy pair, which I bought in a lovely shop in Margate called Ruskin (I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in the area, and not just because they stock my books!). The other pair from Topshop’s MOTO denim were a firm favourite in the InStyle offices when I worked there – nearly everyone had a pair in black denim (which is what I have). I’ve featured these in pink corduroy though, as I’ve lived in a pair of Urban Outfitters pink cords for the best part of a year now. It’s a surprisingly easy thing to integrate into your wardrobe, though I suspect it might be a bit tricky to wear in dungarees form! I wear size 12 in this style, though I think I’m probably a size 11, so they’re a bit loose.
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Shoes-wise, it gets less difficult; so long as you’ve got the proportions right on the dungarees, ideally with your ankles showing, anything goes. I’ve teamed mine with a pair of Chelsea boots, but as the summer creeps closer I’ll progress to trainers, and later Birkenstocks. I’d even team my black pair with a pair of fancy flats for an alternative evening outfit.
Clockwise from top left: adidas adilette slides, £32.99 (offspring.co.uk); Converse One Stars, £65 (converse.com); Ryg suede shoes, £135 (lusophile.co.uk); Mango mules, £49.99 (mango.com); Penelope Chilvers ‘Wander Feria’ boots, £229 (penelopechilvers.com); Birkenstock Arizona sandals in blue suede, £75 (birkenstock.com)
As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you steer clear of dungarees because you’re keen to avoid looking like Dexys Midnight Runners circa Come On Eileen? Did you only wear them when you were pregnant? OR…Do you have any favourite brands for dungarees? How do you wear yours? Leave comments below!