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Difference Between Overalls and Wetsuit

Jumpsuits and Overalls: What's the Difference ? It is often mistakenly thought that the only difference is regional: a common word versus an expression? No ! there are real definitions:

What are overalls?

- trousers with a bib, support and free suspenders to wear over your normal clothes

- Overalls generally do not cover the arms

What is a combination?

- a one-piece protective garment worn for heavy manual work

However, in the French workwear industry, the words seem to be interchangeable. Search any (other) workwear website for either term, and you'll find the definition of "overalls or bib" for both (i.e. say a work garment that covers the torso, arms and legs).

La Salopette® strives to use the correct terminology for overalls and coveralls

Whether you call them dungarees, overalls, or work overalls , it doesn't really matter as long as you get the garment you actually need.

1 - The Different Uses

1-1 The Combination

Starting with the denotations (the dictionary definitions) where "jumpsuit" refers to the complete costume garment, and "together" refers to the garment that clips over the shoulders, here are the uses of both:

Many industries use coveralls to protect workers from hazards . Some are designed for warmth, breathability and/or protection (i.e. resistance to water, hazmat, fire, flame, heat, etc.)

Suits are used by different people ranging from engineers, manufacturers , factory workers, medical professionals and firefighters .

Factory suits are generally designed to be breathable , comfortable and durable. They protect the body and clothing below from damage caused by heat, cold or hazardous plant conditions.

Suits are also used for military purposes, for example in flight suits, and have been in use since the start of World War II. When aviation was developed, cockpits were unheated - with low oxygen and high altitude flights - so pilots needed warm clothing with multiple pockets and with buttons, snaps or zippers to avoid losing items in flight and during maneuvers.

Aviator jumpsuit

Pilots first wore leather which protected them from debris, insects, climbing, landing and oil from the rotary. The leather was durable, but it wasn't a perfect solution. Australian aviator Frederick Sidney Cotton developed the "Sidcot" flying suit in 1917, which kept pilots warm and provided ample storage space. It was extremely popular and was the precursor to the modern flight suit.

Sidcop Flight Suit

Additionally, the suits can be used by the medical industry as explosion-proof suits and protective gear to protect the wearer against chemical and biological hazards. They can be used by the police and are used by some countries as a uniform. Firefighters, who wear suits made of Nomex , a flame-resistant material, commonly use them.

Coveralls are used for a variety of industrial purposes, with anti-static treatments, flame spread resistance properties, different color options and accessories.

Historically, outside of the flight industry, suits were often used by men who serviced coal-fired boilers. As these men had to climb into the combustion chamber of a steam train where coal was being shoveled, having a garment with no gap in the middle prevented soot from entering the lower half of the garment. It also prevented belt snags when someone maneuvered in a tight space, as well as coat tail snags when exiting upside down.

For modern needs, the garment can be worn alone or over clothing to protect both clothing and the body.

1-2 Overalls

Overalls have always been associated with farmers and railway workers in France. Today, painters, farmers, factory workers, train engineers, carpenters and other craftsmen wear this type of clothing.

Fashion Overalls



However, dungarees rose to popularity in the 60s and 70s as an expression of fashion, and moved away from traditional denim towards other colors and embellishments. They made a comeback in the 90s all over the world as a fashion development. The fashion garment became popular and paved the way for the new trend of jumpsuits.

Less popular for clothing protection, overalls are still used , especially in trades such as joinery and carpentry, but not where the extra protection of overalls is needed.

2 - Overalls or Jumpsuit...

Whether you call them overalls or coveralls, these garments have a rich history, but be sure to choose a garment that offers the right kind of protection for your specific industry. But it is true that in 2020 fashion is more oriented towards denim overalls, especially on the women's side!

Denim Overalls for Women

Find the Work Overalls that suits you.
If you need help deciding which suit to buy for your needs - or any workwear - please contact La Salopette® by email via the following address: contact@la-salopette.fr

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