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What are Coveralls?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Coveralls are a one piece garment designed to fit loosely over the body of a worker to protect clothing worn underneath from workplace trauma and dirt. Mechanics, painters, fishermen, train engineers, and assembly line workers often wear coveralls, as do pilots, and firefighters, who wear specially designed fire resistant ones.

A true set of coveralls covers the entire body from wrists to ankles, and sometimes comes with a hood as well. They are designed from sturdy material that can withstand the rigors of the work environment, and they are typically beige, blue, dark green, or another similar color which will not show dirt as readily. Many workers keep their coveralls in a work locker, sliding them over their day clothes and taking them off at the end of the day. During a lunch break, a worker can remove this top layer to relax.

Another version of coveralls, overalls, consists of a set of long pants and a bib held up with straps. Overalls do not offer arm protection, but they are cooler in hot weather, and provide adequate torso and leg protection to the wearer. Fishermen, for example, often wear waterproofed overalls that allow their arms freedom of movement but protect their legs from cold water; animal handlers who work with aquatic animals may also wear overalls.

There are many modifications that can be made to coveralls for various work environments. Flight suits and firefighting gear are made from flame resistant materials and heavily lined so that the wearer will be protected from the high temperatures of a fire. Some coveralls are waterproofed for various work environments, while others have heavily reinforced knees to protect workers who bend and kneel a great deal over the course of the day. Construction workers and road workers may wear bright colors to make them more visible, and most coveralls are covered in straps and pockets to attach the tools of the trade.

When picking out coveralls to wear, the buyer should wear clothing that would be worn to work to try on under them. They should have a loose fit that permits a wide range of motion, and they should not bunch or gather. Working coveralls are protective gear, not a style statement, but they should not sag or bag too much, as they could snag on equipment. On job sites that require coveralls, workers should ask the company if they are provided before purchasing a pair, as some companies stock specific styles for their workers.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

By giddion — On Jul 05, 2012

You can find coveralls for women that are actually form flattering. I have some that have a cinched waist and fit me like a jumpsuit, but they still are roomy enough for me to wear clothing underneath.

I got tired of being cold every time I stepped outside during the winter. There was so much I wanted to be doing outdoors, but I couldn't seem to shake the chill. So, I got some coveralls that were designed to keep me warm without looking too bulky, and I love them.

I couldn't find any color but beige, but they are still so much better looking than the disposable coveralls I have to wear at work. I am a veterinary assistant, and I have to suit up in these before bathing and grooming animals. I am glad to toss them in the trash once I'm done.

By JackWhack — On Jul 04, 2012

@lighth0se33 – I would certainly hope that they would keep them in stock! No employee should be expected to pay for items that are required to do their job, unless they are self-employed.

My husband does a lot of welding on the side, and he keeps some safety coveralls in his shop for this purpose. They are flame resistant, so he doesn't have to worry about sparks setting him ablaze.

If my husband worked for someone else, I would definitely expect them to provide him with safety gear like coveralls. The only reason he bought some is because he is doing this on his own.

By lighth0se33 — On Jul 04, 2012

My husband works in a refrigerated warehouse, where it is always in the thirties. Sometimes, he has to do a shift in the freezer, where it is 15 degrees below zero.

When a worker is assigned a trip into the freezer, the company provides him with insulated coveralls. A person could easily die in there without adequate protection, or he could suffer frostbite and lose a finger.

I think it's great that the company keeps coveralls in stock. If they didn't, then someone would inevitably forget to bring theirs, and they would be in danger while working in there. In fact, the company might not even allow them to go in without insulated coveralls.

By Kristee — On Jul 03, 2012

I live in the South, and I have seen so many men around here wearing cotton coveralls. They usually wear overalls, because many of them are either farmers or grew up on farms and got into the habit of wearing them.

Some men will even wear denim overalls around town when they are not working. One man I know even wears them to church, because to him, they are just as normal as regular jeans.

It gets incredibly hot around here during the summer, and the rest of the year is pretty mild. So, it is no surprise that I see a lot more overalls than coveralls that cover the entire body.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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