The first mention of boilersuits known here is in a special rule for manufacturing explosives, laid down in 1891: "Overall suits and head covering shall be supplied to all workers…"
The one-piece work overall arrived in 1891-1916, in tough cotton or in linen, to fit over a shirt or vest and trousers. (The cloth cap began to spread through the working class, and some women wore them too. )
In the beginning of the 20th century, coveralls came in as protective garments for mechanics in the USA.
Women wore overalls in factories in England during the First World War in 1916.
Rules were implemented in match factories: "Suitable overalls are required for all workers employed in the phosphorus process, except for people who only put the matches in boxes".
In the 1930s, overalls were used as comfortable children's clothes.
After W.W.II, many athletes also utilised the advantages of overalls.
Overalls have sometimes been items of fashion, in the 1960s and 1970s. By analogy with protective clothing, technical students started wearing overalls to specific events in Sweden and later in Finland, and later the practice spread to all students.
Consequently the fashion world began to sell one-piece overalls as high-quality leisure wear. Ski-overalls were and still are especially popular.
Several years ago there was a time when boiler suits were very fashionable, especially jeans-type coveralls.
These are trousers with an attached front patch covering the chest and with attached galluses or suspenders (also called braces in the England) which go over the shoulders. Often people use the word "overall" for the bib type garment only and not for a boilersuit. In the U.S, boilersuits area also called "coveralls" to distiguish them from the bib-type overall.
Bib overalls are usually made of blue denim and often have riveted pockets, similar to those on blue jeans. Bib overalls have long been associated with rural men in the U.S. South and Midwest, especially farmers and railroad workers. They are often worn with plaid flannel shirts, long johns or a red union suit underneath, or with a T-shirt or no shirt at all in warmer weather. These workers seldom wear neckties because of the inherent safety risk it would bring. Since the 1960s, different colors and patterns of bib overalls have been increasingly worn by young people of both sexes, often with one of the straps worn loose or unfastened along the side and under the arm.
In 1856, Levi Strauss sewed the first overalls.
In 1911 Lee also began to sew bib overalls for farmers and workers. Jeans coveralls were later also sewn.
Overalls became clearly work clothes and were reserved for this purpose for a long time.
The term "dungaree" was associated with a coarse undyed calico fabric that was produced and sold in a region near Dongari Killa (also called Fort George) in Bombay (now Mumbai) in India. The cloth was cheap and often poorly woven. As such, it was used by the poorer classes for clothing and by various navies as a sail cloth. Sailors often re-used old sails to make clothes. In time, the name of the cloth came to also mean an item of clothing made out of it.
In British English such a bib type overalls are usually called a pair of dungarees.
In the U.S., carpenter jeans are often referred to as dungarees.
Special patterns of AFV uniform were also worn beginning in the Second World War, initially black coveralls, later khaki coveralls as well as the padded "Pixie suit". Olive drab tanker's uniforms were adopted with the Combat uniform in the 1960s, including a distinctive padded jacket with angled front zip.
The Canadian Army has made extensive use of plain coveralls as a field uniform, commonly using khaki coveralls in the Second World War to save wear and tear on wool BD. In the 1950s and 1960, the cash-poor Canadian military adopted black coveralls which were often worn as combat dress, replacing them in the 1970s with rifle green coveralls. These were worn in the field in Canada by units in training but are also evident in photos of men deployed to West Germany during the Cold War, as armoured and mechanized units sometimes preferred to wear coveralls when carrying out maintenance.
Shortalls are a type of overalls in which the legs of the garment resemble those of shorts. The word is a contraction of these two words. They are often worn during the summer and had their latest popularity peak in the mid 1990s. Today popularity is increasing again for shortalls. Also seen now are skirtalls which are like shortalls except that the bottom of the garment resembles a skirt.
Sometimes it could be capri overalls which are a type of overalls whose legs are like the legs of capri pants.
This is sometimes called a coverall. In American English, it is nearly always referred to as "coveralls". It is a one-piece garment with full-length sleeves and legs like a jumpsuit, but usually less tight-fitting. Its main feature is that it has no gap between jacket and trousers or between lapels, and no loose jacket tails. It often has a long thin pocket down the outside of the right thigh to hold long tools. It usually has a front fastening extending the whole length of the front of the body up to the throat, with no lapels. It may be fastened with buttons, a zipper, velcro, or snap fasteners. Boilersuits with an attached hood are available. The word "boilersuit" may also refer to disposable garments such as Dupont's Tyvek suits.
Boilersuits are so called because they were first worn by men maintaining coal-fired boilers. To check for steam leaks or to clean accumulated soot from inside the firebox of a steam locomotive, someone had to climb inside, through the firehole (where the coal is shovelled in). A one-piece suit avoids the potential problem of loosened soot entering the lower half of his clothing through the gap in the middle. As the firehole opening is only just large enough for a fit individual to negotiate, a one-piece suit also avoids the problem of the waistband snagging on the firehole as the person bends to wriggle through, or of jacket tails snagging if he has to come out backwards.
Coveralls called student overalls are used by university students in some Scandinavian countries as a sort of party-uniform, with insignia on the back and color varying with program and university. It is also practice to customize the coverall in a variety of ways, including adding a large number of patches, and exchanging parts of the suit with other students.
A dark blue coverall is the current working uniform of the U.S. Navy, with the owner's name and "U.S. Navy" on the chest, and rank insignia on the collar points. In the US Navy submarine force, these are called "poopie suits".
Similar coveralls in olive drab (and more recently, desert tan) are also used by the crews of armored fighting vehicles in the US Army and Marine Corps, where the men and also their overalls are sometimes called "CVCs", an abbreviation of "Combat Vehicle Crewman".