I'm a bit of an eccentric. Well, that's not completely true. I think true eccentrics aren't really aware that they are eccentrics. True eccentrics are pretty oblivious. I'm pretty self-aware. I'm probably more of a non-conformist than an eccentric.

Anyway, I say all that to make a comment about my new fashion statement.

I've started wearing overalls.

I can't say why, exactly, I've become attracted to overalls. And truth be told, I really don't see what the big deal is. People still wear overalls, right? But it seems that this particular fashion choice strikes the people in my life as bizarre, incongruous, and, well, eccentric. All my friends are teasing me.

I guess it's because overalls make people think of rural folk and farmers. People with PhDs and Chair persons of academic departments at universities don't tend to wear overalls.

And I think that's part of the reason why I've become attracted to overalls. When I'm wearing overalls I don't look like Dr. Richard Beck, author of two books, Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at ACU. I like overalls because I don't look like that at all.

That's something I've discovered about overalls, though that's not what got me wearing them. I simply wanted to wear them. I saw some, they felt welcoming to me, so I bought them and started wearing them. I'm sort of simple in that way. I think that's what makes me a non-conformist. I don't ponder what others think about overalls or if they suit my image. I don't think about those things at all. I just do what I want to do. Social perceptions be damned. I live most of my life this way. 

A funny story in this regard:

A few weeks ago I was preaching at Freedom. As I've written about before, Freedom has a lot of poor and low income members. Anyway, I was wearing overalls this particular night when I was preaching. The following Sunday one of our elders ran into me and said, "I was thinking about you today." "Oh yeah," I said, "what about?" "Well," he responded, "I was thinking about how nice it is that you intentionally dress like a low income person when you preach at Freedom in order to make them feel comfortable." I smile and nod and say, "Yeah."

But inside I'm thinking, "I'm not doing this on purpose. I'm not trying to look like a poor person to make them feel comfortable."

As strange as it may seem, I just wanted to wear overalls.

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36 thoughts on “Overalls”

  1. Well osh kosh begosh!  I used to wear overalls ("dungarees" to Brits) when I was studying for the minstry at Oxford, and then on into my first months here in Swansea; denim, but I remember a pair of blazing yellow ones (that I actually bought while visiting an old friend who was teaching at Vassar -- still is).  But most of my Welsh folk looked askance at this down-home American ministerial garb, and so deploying I Corinthians 9:19ff. sartorially, I ditched the dungies.  But I missed them.

    Richard, have you thought of getting a banjo to complete your new image?

  2. "...I'm not trying to look like a poor person to make them feel comfortable."

    It would be the saddest damn thing in the world, if that *were* your motivation for "dressing down."

    If in being "evangelical," people are only acting a part, in order to sell or manipulate a potential "buyer," then, yes, this offends me.  And pisses me off!  And, I have said so, to plenty of people and for the whole world to hear.  (I wasn't as nice as you were in your response; I still tend to open mouth, insert foot, and be blunt about such troubling tactics.)

    I also think that you can still be Dr. Beck -- smart and accomplished, and appreciate the value of all kinds of people who are different from you.  I have faith in you that way.  Overalls or no overalls.  As my mama always told me, don't judge a book by its cover...  Look inside, and see what's in a person's heart.  As Dr. Beck has suggested, just don't judge.  And, as Lady Gaga has said, don't be insecure if your heart is pure.  And that pretty much sums up my wisdom on being an earthling.

    Since I have been a stay-at-home mom, I mostly wear t-shirts and jeans or shorts.  When it is hot, I often wear my hair in a ponytail.  I have noticed that, in certain situations, if I do not "dress up" I am treated much differently.  Those in positions of authority, who *can* throw around their power, often size me up, I think, as a "low" person.  One time, at an appointment for my son with a medical specialist, it wasn't until my husband walked in wearing his work badge, front and center hanging from a lanyard, that the reception staff suddenly became very service-oriented.  ;-)

    I hardly wear makeup, but when I do, my son commonly asks, "What is this or that, and why are you putting that on?"  I tell him that on some days, with some people, I need a little extra confidence.  I feel better.  He just tilts his head and squints at me, as if to say, whatever, Mom.

    I've thought once or twice that I should dress differently when I go to the nursing home.  Maybe the older people would not relate to me as well, dressed in my faded jeans and t-shirts.  No one has ever said anything about what I'm wearing, or seemed put off by my relaxed style, so I haven't changed anything.

    But I am trying very hard to live up to their faith in me.  To be a steady presence of love for them.  To tell the Story truly and well.  I'm all about that.

    We're all human, not so different on the inside.  Isn't it a beautiful thing to find that out?


  3. I don't understand why overalls would be considered edgy. But then I grew up in a place where blue overalls dressed up with a white shirt and polished low-top shoes were considered appropriate Sunday-go-to-meeting attire. And I've known quite a few folks, including my dad, who went to their graves dressed in or accompanied by their beloved over-hauls, figuring there was no need to be uncomfortable on resurrection morn.

  4. I have noticed the move among men our age away from belts to suspenders and overalls.  Whenever I inquire of a friend why he has switched, the answer is always the same:  more comfortable than a belt on an ever-expanding waistline.  And they work better when sitting, since you do not need to loosen your belt ala Frank Barone.

  5. No banjo...yet.

    Another funny story. The family and I are on vacation driving to the coast to a beach. We stop at a Cracker Barrel to eat because I'm addicted to rocking chairs. Anyway I'm wearing my overalls. And I'm trying on straw hats in the store for something to wear on the beach for sun protection. So there I am wearing overalls and a straw hat in a Cracker Barrel. I looked like I was in costume or something. My family was cracking up. But the Cracker Barrel people thought I looked GREAT.

  6. I used to wear overalls a lot. I really want to, again, but my wife is not a fan of this idea.

  7. I've recently started wearing a pair myself. I think its our age. When a man reaches 50 he starts to care less what people think, I think!

  8. I've recently embraced more of a lower-working class garb as I've reconnected with my roots. It feels like home and I enjoy the look, and I'm finding similar reactions from my "educated" peers. That for some reason their "education" gives them an excuse to look down about this sort of stereotype. Here's to transcending stereotypes and breaking the mold!

  9. That's true.  However, no matter how old we get, our wives still care -- especially when we leave the house.  And that's a good thing.

  10. re: "When I'm wearing overalls I don't look like Dr. Richard Beck, ..."

    i think many cultures have stories of the king/prince taking on a disguise to see what people really think of him.  (alternatively, being born into poverty but secretly being a prince who's discovered later.)

    i think anyone who's powerful and self-reflective wonders what people really think/how they act in the absence of the power symbols. 

    lastly, different people have different areas they establish their identity on.  eg, someone who defines themselves by their athletic prowess but not their fashion sense is not as affected if someone says they're unfashionable, but likely incensed if someone says they're clumsy, weak, or similar.   adding to this...

    re: "I think that's what makes me a non-conformist. I don't ponder what others think about overalls or if they suit my image. "

    my sister's parents-in-law spend rather lavishly, and i thought they were well off (having met them less than a dozen times.)  apparently they're not.  my sister noted they grew up in a farming community, and no one really knows who's the good farmer unless they buy a new tractor, barn, car, etc.  so image is important.  I asked someone I know who is the son of a farmer, and he said his dad would put extra manure (fertilizer) on the ditch by the road, so that passers-by would see the lush growth there and conclude "if that unharvested land is that fertile, his fields must be really good!" 

    in contrast, my sister and i grew up in small university town.  in that environment, status wasn't conveyed by money/spending, but by the university.  ie, assistant professor, associate prof, full prof, dept chair, etc.  if you spent lavishly but were only an assistant prof, i think you were considered a bit foolish.  and if you had a high status, not spending money on clothes/cars was probably considered eccentric, or "absent minded professor".   my sister and i unconsciously adopted that same mindset, even tho neither of us lives in a small university town.  so, if you tell me i dress funny, i'm not all that irritated, as i don't define myself that way.  but tell me i'm stupid, or don't understand something, and you get a much different response from me!

  11. "Bibbies"  as in "bib overalls."  Only people from The City call 'em "overalls."

  12. That's been a point of academic conversation. What is the difference, if any, between bib overalls and overalls?

  13. I remember back in the 80s when these were briefly popular. I remember going to a chiropractor at one point in the 90s who wore overalls, clogs, and a bandanna on his head over waist- length hair in one long braid. If you're going non-conformist, I guess you've gotta go all the way! Lol...

  14. Dungarees typify the latest religious trending in The Theology of Hospitality. These wonderful denim creations welcome all body and personality types, male and female. They are ageless really, especially when one's gravity-defying endowments have become directionally challenged on this earth.
    Bib or bib-less their shabby chic-ness calls out to the free spirit in us all. The pockets are absolutely riveting, and so many ways to organise! They totally obscure social class: who knows exactly what is contained within the fabric of those tightly-stitched cubby-holes? Even the pocket placement of hands, arms, thumbs, ponytails can position the wearer with a body language full of attitude, innuendo, mystery to confound from the most mundane observer to Stepford Wives bearing muffin-laden welcome baskets. It has been said hedge fund bankers secretly possess overall envy.Dungarees extend comfort to sceptics. Sniffy Academics and Sanctimonious Church Wardens have obviously overlooked a very valuable filing system during their careers. On a personal note all attendees at the next General Synod (CofE) should be required to pocket their dog collars and wear dungarees. It might put a different perspective on the meaning and validity of 'Bishop'.

  15. wonder if it's because one has a bib and the other is complete coverage. Like a union suit?

  16. On how I long to be such a non-conformist. My problem is that, out of my desire to BE a non-conformist,  I end up trying to fit in with non-conformists. How freeing to be loosed from the chains of social expectations...

  17. WHY is wearing dungarees/overalls about being non-conformist? This idea seems like it was dredged up from the 1970's era! :)

    Non-conformists don't need to shout to the world that they are non-conformist. That said, they can become a judgemental social class in their own snooty obnoxious way, just like other social classes who are pious and so pleased with themselves. It is not about the clothes, and to hijack a certain dress-style from another social class to make a statement is hypocritical and downright condescending. 

    It doesn't take much to wear anything slightly different in West Texas to be labelled 'non-conformist', or worse 'liberal'. What the heck, when did the word 'liberal' get to be so overused? I might want to wear my salwar kameez because of comfort, I feel at home and I want to stay cool on exceedingly hot days. I also know to wear the salwar kameez anywhere in public in West Texas might produce a lot of negative stares, tut-tutting or get me shot for being a Muslim or a terrorist. 

    Richard, at least you don't have to fight daily with yourself over wearing make-up. My husband always knows we are going to Texas when I pack make-up he hasn't seen me use in ages. It becomes a gut-wrenching decision and adds unwanted weight to our luggage restrictions. If I go through D/FW security check points it becomes a subject of concern when the TSA agent does not see any make-up in a plastic bag to screen. HAHA! I would like to say I was joking, but I did get questioned once, and once was enough :) For Texas women, wearing make-up is a major fetish -- any woman who walks out their door without make-up dripping off their face is viewed by The Others as having a bad day or it's a 'poor thang, she must surely be depressed' kinda comment. Oh, but it is totally OK for the females in Abilene to pop into Walmart or cruise through Taco Bueno's drive-through with orange juice cans rolled in their hair (back in the day;) Just don't do it without globs of mascara.  I used to be addicted to the Estée Lauder counters in department stores, it's a hard habit to get rid of until you live in states or countries where no one judges you by the way you apply your eye-liner. I do apologise if this seems a huge generalisation, I realise not every Texas female is ruled by Mary Kay or Estée Lauder, but it is quite the topic of discussion when non-Texas friends comment on some of the most obvious cultural differences. They laugh at my 'collection'. :)

    Plenty of non-conformists wear plenty of make-up. Several authors I know don't have to dress up or dress down to stay true to or re-invent themselves. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you are tired of hangin' with the status quo and keeping up appearances, just be yourself. You don't need to use clothing or make-up or wear a sandwich board to get the message across. Life Is Short.

  18. Slightly off topic - Do you post your sermons? I haven't seen them here but I'd like to read them. However, I would understand if your sermons are between you and the congregation. Anyway, I love your stuff and would love to read even more!

  19. I remember when fashionable overalls by companies such as Guess were briefly popular back in the late 80's (some of you might remember the style was to wear them with one strap undone). I think I even owned a pair. 
    But if you're going to go non-conformist, just go all the way...I remember going to a younger chiropractor back in the 90's; he was wearing overalls over a "lumberjack" plaid shirt, clogs, and a bandanna on his head. He also had about waist-length hair in a single braid down his back...

  20. They were all the rage back in '77-'78 when I was in middle school. And you could make a number of fashion statements -- full bib, one strap or bib down.  But getting my mother who grew up on a farm to let me buy jeans, much less overalls, was quite the battle. And don't even talk about going to church in them. After a couple of years, she finally relented and let me wear them to youth group but not Sunday services.

  21. "Coveralls" or "Boilersuits" have complete coverage...But I think you should switch to "Shortalls" (overalls cut down to shorts)

  22. Did you ever consider that "the poor" might consider you dressing like that condescending? Didn't think so...

  23.  Wah? Hey, I'm dressing in overalls because I like them. If someone is offended, rich or poor, that's their problem.

  24. So, you believe that as long as you like what you are doing, it is acceptable to offend other people. Typical...

  25. What? You've got a screw loose. I go to the store. I buy some overalls because I like the look. I wear them. Some rich person is offended because I'm too casual. Some poor person is offended because they think I'm trying to, what?, look poor? Both are wrong. Both are uncharitable judgments and reveal more about the person making the judgment. So let's call a spade a spade: I don't care what your income level is--rich or poor--being a judgmental a-hole is being a judgmental a-hole. Let people wear what they want.

  26. Yeah, yeah...you do realize that telling me I have a screw loose is an "uncharitable judgment" and  makes you "a judgmental a-hole". I am so glad I took you up on your ultimatum in the Fall of 2010. Thank you for following me down the rabbit hole. Most entertaining.

  27. First, do we know each other? "Kswdid" doesn't tell me who you are.

    Second, I don't think YOU are a judgmental a-hole. I'm saying that anyone who judges another by their clothing is such.

  28. Overalls are so comfortable with lot's of room and lots of pockets,happy to see another fan. 
    PS you really can't afford overalls if your poor so that perception just doesn't hold water.

  29. I know what you mean! I've always been attracted to em and was scared of the stereotype that went with em. I eventually got over that fear and wear em now (admittedly I've also embraced the stereotype somewhat as, hey, it's where I came from). They're really comfy.

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