These denim dungarees are even the garment newly-elected non-binary Muslim state representative Mauree Turner is wearing in their official portrait following their ground-breaking electoral result. Specifically, a nice pair of classic Dickies in brown duck.
Mauree Turner won her race for Oklahoma state House for District 88 on Tuesday, becoming the first nonbinary state legislator in US history and first Muslim lawmaker in Oklahoma. https://t.co/HuufjDmRWN
— CNN (@CNN) November 5, 2020
Turner is not alone. I have personally described my own gender as “overalls, gardening, bike mechanics, bowl cut.” I own little else—counting two pairs of blue denim, three black denim, one pinstripe, one brown duck and one part of shortalls in my must-leave-the-house-clothed arsenal. I bought my first adult pair years ago—brown duck workhorses, meant to be worn over my clothing as I worked in the chilly concrete basement of a Vancouver bike repair shop. I’d admired the well-worn pair an older, retired colleague wore to shield his clothes from bike grease. But then I kept buying them: There was something cozy, metaphorically as well as literally protective, about wearing them. I didn’t always feel comfortable in my body, or the way strangers read my gender. Wearing overalls took the edge off.
Lo and behold, if you search “non-binary” + “overalls” on Twitter, you will find scores more of us.
We’re lifting weights:
This is me formally establishing my place as the Overalls non-binary
THIS IS MY BRAND pic.twitter.com/vXg99noeu8
— The Auntie Christ (@BomberTrans) November 27, 2019
We’re in Carhartt’s with beautiful hair and tattoos:
Hi! Non-binary, looooooves overalls! pic.twitter.com/ibqElsQ1kO
— blaaake (@jblakecooley) June 17, 2019
We’re even achieving the coveted and rare combination of overalls in sweatpant material:
so @swoveralls sent me a pair of their titular sweatpants-overalls and first off, i want six more pairs and secondly, i never want to take them off again and thirdly, i want six more pairs pic.twitter.com/kqV1dt1x5P
— ace tilton ratcliff (@MortuaryReport) February 26, 2020
Non-binary people exist at the intersection of many other identities—age, race, ethnicity, disability, religion or lack thereof. Some of us are broke, and others, I assume, must be swimming in nice big piles of Scrooge McDuck-style coin pools.
The one thing we have in common? Deep love of the moment buckles click over riveted buttons. So, I took to the internet and asked other non-binary folks why our overall uniform is so beloved within our community.
“Back in my youth, the only person I knew who wore them was the most redneck human being I’d ever met,” says John Elizabeth Stintzi, who grew up in rural Ontario and recently purchased their first pair. “There is something very attractive, I think, in that they have kind of been taken over by queer people.”
“They feel truly gender neutral to me,” adds Nola Werlinich. “They can be femme or masc or neither or both. They’re playful and functional (hello, pockets!). Also, they obscure my chest—a source of dysphoria for me—and I never feel the need to bind when wearing a pair.”
For df parizeau, who describes themself as appearing masculine to others, the ability to pair overalls with fun sweaters, to make them more queer, more femme, is enjoyable—a way to play around with fashion that feels comfortable.
And Chief Schubert, a 24-year-old enby from the U.K., says their overalls give them “a sense of safety.” Their favourite pair is grey corduroy with a dinosaur pattern—truly a pinnacle of queer fashion.
“I’m still developing the relationship I have between my gender and the clothes I wear,” says Victoria, B.C.-based Erin Sparks. “So often it feels as though there’s one specific way to ‘look non-binary,’ and this almost always means thin, white and androgynous in a way that’s very palatable to cis folks. I’ve really struggled to find a balance between what feels validating for me and what I feel like I’m supposed to wear. Overalls are this wonderful, uncomplicated piece of clothing that always feels good, no matter what.”
All of these reasons feel relatable to me, a person who (after I’ve purchased the pair I want in my size) tweets to share overalls sales with fellow non-binary people every time they crop up.
There is something welcoming, even inviting, about the fact that overalls are beloved by both small children and people who work with hammers and wear steel-toe boots.
And in the same way certain haircuts are a quiet nod to other queer folks, overalls can signal that their wearer is queer, that their gender may not align with cultural expectations. Added bonus: They are simply comfortable as heck. So buckle up, enbys—and please do remember to send me a DM when a particularly nice pair goes on sale!