20 April 2020

The democratic dungaree

The BIB editor writes:

Dungarees/ overalls have long been associated with old-time and (to a lesser extent) bluegrass music, and we show above (photo: culturenorthernireland.org) two outfits with celebrity models: Richard Hurst (banjo) of the Ulster American Folk Park and Geordie McAdam (fiddle). Geordie has a set from Boone, in the North Carolina hills; we can't be sure where Richard's came from, but they are clearly giving satisfaction.

Nowadays attenders at bluegrass and old-time events often wear dungarees for comfort, convenience, and/or a lifestyle statement. What may be less well known is that exactly a hundred years ago (April 1920) a widely supported movement arose among middle-class Americans of wearing dungarees as a protest against exorbitant rises in the price of clothing. The Cheese Club of New York, 'an organisation of dramatic critics, press agents, and theatrical editors', took a leading part. According to a newspaper report of the time,

'Overalls over all' is the motto adopted by many of the leading universities of the country, and to be seen in a working man's uniform is regarded as an honour.

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