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What kind of overalls are these? Options
Posted: Monday, August 19, 2019 6:26:02 AM
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I'm reading a book called "Wool Omnibus" (the Silo series) by Hugh Howey. This is a science fiction novel, set in the far future. Some kind of apocalyptic disaster happened, and mankind (or what's left of it) now live in a gigantic underground silo. Everyone wear a type of "overalls", color-coded base on their profession.

What troubles me is the "overalls" uniform. As far as I know, there're 2 kind of clothing that can be called overalls: The "farmer" type (pictured on the left) and the "industrial" jumpsuit (pictured on the right)

I can't figure out which one is the one used in the book. Based off of general impression, as well as the prequel novel "Shift" (where the US government greenlit the construction of this silo, with all construction workers wearing "overalls" too), I feel like it's the "industrial" kind of overalls (aka "jumpsuit"). Hell, even the graphic novel version of the book depicted the uniform as the industrial jumpsuit:

But there there are just so many confusing evidence that point the other way (or vice versa) in the book. Here are some:

She wore no undershirt, just blue overalls cut high up over her chest, exposing a bit of olive skin that gleamed with sweat. She had the same dark complexion as the farmers who worked under grow lights, but it could have been as much from the grease and grime if her denims were any indication.

"Cut high up over her chest" make it sounds like the entire front of the suit, all the way up to near the collar bone, is 1 single piece of fabric, with no zipper of button of any kind. I'm not very familiar with jumpsuit, but I don't think the front of it would be designed like that. The fact that it's made from "denim" also point to it being a farmer overalls.

But then again, if someone wear just a farmer overalls and no undershirt, there's no way the amount of skin exposed would be just "a bit". Only a jumpsuit, with its sleeves and all, could cover enough skin for that description to be accurate.

But then come the next passage.

Juliette put her ID away and reached over the gate to grab the straps of his overalls with both hands. She pulled him almost clear over the gates, her arms bulging with the sinewy muscles that had freed countless bolts.

I don't think the jumpsuit would have any kind of strap. And considering Juliette is dragging this man closer to talk to him, it seems the straps should be on the chest or somewhere close to this man's face. This point to it being a farmer overalls.


She stood up and turned around, facing this small man with a protruding gut, glasses perched at the end of his nose, his silver IT overalls snugly tailored and freshly pressed.

I don't think a farmer overalls would need any pressing (ironing?), only a jumpsuit would need it.

Bernard removed his glasses and began wiping them on the sleeve of his undershirt, his gaze falling to his feet.


Shirly touched her lip, her sore chin. Her fingers came away wet with blood. She used the sleeve of her undershirt to dab at her mouth.

These people didn't undress or do anything worth noting with their garment (though admittedly, they are in combat, so their clothes might be a bit disordered). If these were jumpsuit, there's no way they could wipe anything on the undershirt sleeves.

Also, there're a lot of description of people putting their hands inside the belly of their overalls. Again, I'm no expert on industrial jumpsuit, but I got the feeling it would be pretty awkward putting both hand in the same front of the belly (assuming the zipper got pull down enough).

So could anyone clear up this one for me? What type of overalls is this?
Posted: Monday, August 19, 2019 7:42:14 AM

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They are sci-fi "farmer" type "industrial" overalls with straps and which doesn't show (perceivedly) much skin.

It's just like the Nike Sneakers in "Back to the future" whose straps arrange themselves for the perfect fit,

or the Light Sabers in Star Wars which are powered by midi-chlorians (a.k.a. the Force)

Edit : midi-chlorians, not mithiclorians, my deepest apologies for the misprint. And lightsabers were powered by Kyber crystals, not the Force. Sorry d'oh!
Posted: Monday, August 19, 2019 9:52:49 AM

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It was always my understanding that the kind with the straps over the shoulder are overalls, and the kind with the sleeves are coveralls.
Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2019 6:23:58 AM
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The type described as "farmers overalls" we call dungarees. The ones with sleeves are the ones we call overalls.

Neither of which helps VKHU in his reading, of course. But might have added a new word (dungarees) to his vocab?
Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2019 1:37:36 PM

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Hi Vkhu.

I suppose they could wear both types.

Having them colour coded reminds me of Gilead in Margaret Atwood's book "The Handmaid's Tale" where the women are made to wear colour coded clothing of various types according to the women's usages by men.

However, all the passages you describe point to bib overalls. The bib in front can come up higher for females. Children can wear them without shirts underneath. The pants can be long or they can also be shorts. The other photo in Canada would be a jumpsuit or I suppose coveralls. Not sure exactly what dungarees are in Canada. I think they are shorts and may even be a brand name. Not sure. There is actually a band called "The Dungarees" from Alberta, Canada.
Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 5:59:48 PM

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I would agree they are mostly likely “farmer” style bib overalls.

I think the cover of the graphic novel is a red herring, broadly there are different types of graphic novels ones where the graphic novel was conceived as that from the start where the person doing the art work and writing the book are working hand in hand with each other or sometimes are the same person.

I quite enjoy “Ethel and Ernest” by Raymond Briggs about the life of his parents in this style of book.

Another type is where the rights to adapt an existing work are licensed to a comic book company and they make their own artistic design choices with little or no input from the original author. I would suspect that is what has happened here the artist drawing the picture prefers the jumpsuit style of clothing.
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