Just an observation, as I have no direct knowledge, but I always understood
"overalls" to be either just that or, as Kathy Page wrote, "bib 'n' brace".
(I found it interesting her comment that these were usually made from a
cloth called 'dungaree', as my father always referred to what was 'bib 'n'
brace' as 'dungarees' when I needed some form of protection to avoid getting
With due respect to Levi Strauss I cannot see any typological progression
from either overalls or dungarees to jeans. Any of the former that I have
ever encountered seemed to be in a different, more flexible, material, loose
fitting enough to be worn over trousers and of a different construction.
----- Original Message -----
From: "J DAVIS" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2007 1:54 PM
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Friday enquiry about jeans...
> It's misleading, at least. The OED 2nd edition 1989 has the plural
> "jeans" as American only (which seems a little bizarre). It quotes an
> English source of 1567 for mention of "yerdes of Jene fustyan." And
> an English source of 1843 use of jeans meaning a form of trousers:
> "Septimus arrived flourishin' his cambric, with his white jeans
> strapped under his chammy leather opera boots" (R.S. Surtees,
> 'Handley Cross').
> The Levi Strauss web site says that they didn't call jeans "jeans"
> until the 1950s (up till then they called them "overalls"). It also
> says that denim became popular in England around the 18th century and
> that it was more expensive than jean. The main difference between
> jean and denim was that the former had warp and weft threads of the
> same colour, whilst the latter had a coloured thread and a white
> Janet Davis
> --- M Hutchinson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> I thought they were called 'jeans' because they were made from a
>> fabric called jean. The Shorter OED (3rd ed, 1944) says Jene is
>> Old French
>> for Genoa.. jean was originally 'jene fustian', shortened to jean.
>> Amazingly it says 'In US, jeans 1567' Is this a mis-print, do you
>> Marjorie (the other MEH)
>> > Levi Strauss hoped to make his fortune in the California gold
>> rush by
>> > making tents from canvas sailcloth (the conventional advice from
>> > economists is to sell shovels...), but he found it to be too
>> heavy. He
>> > therefore turned it into hard-wearing trousers. When his supply
>> of can
>> > vas ran out, he switched to serge.