Created By: GoldfrithaJuly 15, 2012 Last Edited By: Antigone3February 4, 2015

Overalls And Gingham

Denim overalls or gingham dress = farmer

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
(On launch, this will go on the Stock Costume Traits page. I'm leaving the working title alone for now, but it'll most likely change.)

When a male character is from a rural setting, a common visual shorthand to establish this is to put the character in denim overalls. For bonus points, put him in a checked shirt (often made of gingham, a medium-weight checked cotton). He normally wears a hat; straw in a historical setting, a baseball cap if he's from a modern farm.

Female characters from rural settings, depending on the time period, may wear either denim or gingham. Tomboys and/or modern characters will often wear denim jeans; Ms Fanservice favors denim "Daisy Dukes" (ultra-short shorts). More "feminine" characters, or those from times that didn't approve of women in pants, will wear gingham dresses. Either version is the normal attire of the Farmers Daughter.

It's usually safe to assume a character dressed in denim or gingham will share some of the common rural traits. Whether they're negative or positive traits will depend on the approach the rest of the work's taking. If rural values are approved of, expect common sense and practicality from a man in denim overalls or a woman in a gingham dress. If not, characters dressed that way will tend toward strongly conservative, bordering on (or all the way to) Luddite views.

There's a certain amount of Truth In Television here. Denim is a practical fabric for farm work, as it's washable and can take abuse. Gingham for the ladies isn't as tough a fabric, but it's still washable — and usually a woman in a gingham dress is working around the farmhouse, not plowing. It may have become popular because it's a little more fancy than a solid-colored fabric while still being very easy to make (and therefore cheap). 1800's farmers commonly wore a straw hat ... but so did most men during the summer. And baseball caps can be seen everywhere, city as well as country.

This trope is specifically for cases of denim/gingham attire as shorthand for "this character is from a farm". City teens wearing $300 fashion jeans need not apply.

Contrast with Sharp Dressed Man or Socialite, both of whom are urban characters.

Examples

Art
  • American Gothic, the extremely famous painting by Grant Wood, portrays a farmer and his daughter. The former has overalls and a pitchfork.

Cartoons
  • Nearly every cartoon, be it newspaper or animated, will give a farmer overalls and a straw hat.

Comic Book
  • In Alan Moore's Tomorrow Stories, boy genius Jack B. Quick and his farmer papa both wear overalls, and the whole family wears gingham.

Literature
  • Dorothy Gale is usually depicted wearing a gingham dress. In the 1939 film adaptation, Dorothy's blue gingham dress is almost as iconic as the ruby slippers.
  • In LM Montgomery's Jane Of Lantern Hill, Jane wears overalls when she helps with shingling; Aunt Elmira sniffs over the appropriateness for a girl.
  • Several characters in Little House On The Prairie wear gingham dresses.
  • Ebenezar McCoy from The Dresden Files dresses like this when he's off-duty on his Missouri farm, rather than performing his duties as a Senior Council member.

Live Action TV
  • Mary Ann on Gilligans Island usually wore gingham (it was her iconic outfit).
  • Uncle Jesse on The Dukes Of Hazzard almost always wore overalls, but he preferred a solid-colored shirt. In The Movie he wears a plaid shirt with his overalls. Luke wore a checkered shirt but jeans rather than overalls.
  • The Andy Griffith Show: Briscoe Darling (played by Denver Pyle, the same actor as Uncle Jesse) also tended towards overalls & a solid shirt.

Music
  • Mentioned in The Producers song "Betrayed," where Bialystock has a My Life Flashed Before My Eyes moment:
    I see my mother standing on the back porch, in a worn but clean gingham gown, and I hear her calling out to me, "Alvin! Don't forget your chores. The wood needs a-cordin and the cows need a-milkin'. Alvin, Alvin..." Wait a minute! My name's not Alvin! That's not my life. I'm not a hillbilly. I grew up in the Bronx.

Tabletop Games
  • 2nd Edition Dungeons And Dragons Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Two. The dobie was a type of brownie that lived in rural areas, such as farms. It was pictured as being dressed in farmer's clothing, including overalls.
  • Field spirits in Shadowrun dress like this when they take a humanoid form.

Theater
  • The Broadway musical Leave It to Me! has a Dream Sequence where Goodhue returns to his native Topeka and goes home to find his wife (normally a Rich Bitch) sitting on the gate in a bonnet and a gingham dress.

Video Games
  • The main character in most of the games in the Harvest Moon series wears denim overalls, along with a backwards baseball cap and a neckerchief for wiping sweat.

Web Comics

Western Animation
Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • July 15, 2012
    TonyG
    Dorothy Gale is usually depicted wearing a gingham dress.
  • July 15, 2012
    Valhelm
    Ginghams seem pretty obscure. While this trope is shown all the time, "Straw Hat and Overalls" would be a way better title.
  • July 15, 2012
    Rognik
    ^Agreed, or at least define what a gingham shirt is in the trope.
  • July 15, 2012
    randomsurfer
    American Gothic is a farmer and his daughter, not his wife.

    • Mentioned in The Producers song "Betrayed," where Bialystock has a My Life Flashed Before My Eyes moment:
      I see my mother standing on the back porch, in a worn but clean gingham gown, and I hear her calling out to me, "Alvin! Don't forget your chores. The wood needs a-cordin and the cows need a-milkin'. Alvin, Alvin..." Wait a minute! My name's not Alvin! That's not my life. I'm not a hillbilly. I grew up in the Bronx.
  • July 15, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
  • July 17, 2012
    Xtifr
    Gingham is obscure? Seems like a bizarre claim to me. And gingham is a lot more common than straw hats. Baseball caps are more common in modern depictions, but the overalls and gingham remain unchanged.

    • In Alan Moore's Tomorrow Stories, boy genius Jack B. Quick and his farmer papa both wear overalls, and the whole family wears gingham.
  • July 17, 2012
    karstovich2
    ^ While the fabric itself is not obscure, the term "gingham" is. Most would say "checkered cloth" or some such.
  • July 17, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ I would say that, so I personally agree.
  • July 20, 2012
    Xtifr
    A more generic name, like Stock Farmers Clothing might well make more sense. Plus, that will encourage people to describe the clothing, rather than adding Zero Context Examples.
  • July 20, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
  • July 20, 2012
    Nocturna
    I'd say male farmers are at least as likely, if not more so, to be depicted wearing plaid shirts rather than gingham shirts.
  • July 20, 2012
    Sackett
    Gingham is the term though that brings to mind this trope.

    Mary Ann on Gilligans Island usually wore gingham (it was her iconic outfit).
  • July 20, 2012
    JonnyB
    Occasionally a Farmers Daughter outfit (when she's not wearing Daisy Dukes).
  • July 21, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Uncle Jesse on The Dukes Of Hazzard almost always wore overalls, but he preferred a solid-colored shirt. In The Movie he wears a plaid shirt with his overalls. Luke wore a checkered shirt but only jeans* rather than overalls.
    • The Andy Griffith Show: Briscoe Darling (played by Denver Pyle, the same actor as Uncle Jesse) also tended towards overalls & a solid shirt.
    *Jeans were originally called "waist-high overalls" so it may count anyway.
  • July 21, 2012
    surgoshan
    If you changed it to Denim And Gingham, it'd be a tad more universal, and it would rhyme.
  • July 28, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ and wouldn't bring farmers to mind at all. The important part of the trope is farmer, so that should really be in the trope name somewhere. Plus what I said earlier about discouraging Zero Context Examples.
  • January 9, 2013
    Antigone3
    Suggested rewrite of the description:

    When a male character is from a rural setting, a common visual shorthand to establish this is to put the character in denim overalls. For bonus points, put him in a checked shirt (often made of gingham, a medium-weight checked cotton) as well.

    Female characters, depending on the time period, may wear either denim or gingham. Tomboys and/or modern characters will often wear denim jeans; Ms Fanservice favors denim "Daisy Dukes" (ultra-short shorts). More "feminine" characters, or those from times that didn't approve of women in pants, will wear gingham dresses.

    Denim is a practical fabric for farm work, as it's washable and can take abuse. Gingham for the ladies isn't as tough a fabric, but it's still washable -- and usually a woman in a gingham dress is working around the farmhouse, not plowing. It may have become popular because it's a little more fancy than a solid-colored fabric while still being very easy to make (and therefore cheap).


    Goldfritha, speak up soon or I'll go ahead and take this on.
  • January 10, 2013
    Xtifr
    ^ This has been idle long enough to be officially Up For Grabs.

    That description seems much better. Now we just need a name.
  • January 10, 2013
    Oreochan
  • January 11, 2013
    Xtifr
    I think the word "stock" is important to make it clear that this isn't about what actual farmers happen to wear; it's about what Hollywood thinks they wear.
  • January 11, 2013
    Desertopa
    • The main character in most of the games in the Harvest Moon series wears denim overalls, along with a backwards baseball cap and a neckerchief for wiping sweat.
  • January 12, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • 2nd Edition Dungeons And Dragons Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Two. The dobie was a type of brownie that lived in rural areas, such as farms. It was pictured as being dressed in farmer's clothing, including overalls.
  • January 12, 2013
    Antigone3
    Either Stock Rural Attire or Stock Farming Attire would work for me, anyone else?
  • January 19, 2013
    Antigone3
    YKTTW Bump
  • January 19, 2013
    Nocturna
    I think one thing the examples need is a focus on explaining how what they're wearing indicates the fact that they're rural. Does it contrast with the rest of the cast? Is it lampshaded? Etc.

    After, this trope isn't just about "people wear denim and gingham".
  • January 19, 2013
    McKathlin
    The last line of the description should say "Contrast with the elegantly-clad urban Man Of Wealth And Taste or Socialite."
  • January 19, 2013
    McKathlin
    Speaking of which, Sharp Dressed Man might work better as a direct contrast than Man Of Wealth And Taste; the latter is specifically about evil characters, and the former is morally neutral.
  • January 21, 2013
    Antigone3
    Rephrased the last line (and pulled the now-redundant "elegantly-clad").
  • February 2, 2013
    SharleeD
    • Field spirits in Shadowrun dress like this when they take a humanoid form.

    • Ebenezar McCoy from The Dresden Files dresses like this when he's off-duty on his Missouri farm, rather than performing his duties as a Senior Council member.

    FWIW, I think that "gingham" is a very appropriate term to include in this trope's title. Why? Because I can't recall a single time I've heard or seen that word used, that wasn't related to farm clothing, or to rural fashion/style in general. It's a word that's instantly identified with this trope; indeed, the reason you don't see gingham called that in other contexts is probably that urban clothing retailers avoid using the word, lest their brands sound too "hick".
  • July 12, 2013
    Antigone3
    Rural Gingham Rural Denim? (With a comma added after launch.)
  • September 7, 2013
    DAN004
  • October 24, 2013
    Antigone3
    YKTTW Bump
  • March 24, 2014
    Prfnoff
    • The Broadway musical Leave It to Me! has a Dream Sequence where Goodhue returns to his native Topeka and goes home to find his wife (normally a Rich Bitch) sitting on the gate in a bonnet and a gingham dress.
  • May 5, 2014
    SharleeD
    Note that trucker hats are a common alternative to baseball caps, and either one is likely to sport an agribusiness-related logo such as John Deere's.

    Incidentally, if you add rubber boots or waders and decorate the hat with flies, you get Hollywood's stock fisherman outfit.
  • May 6, 2014
    Antigone3
    Good point — would that be close enough to roll into this description, or should we start a YKTTW for fisherman clothing?
  • August 17, 2014
    Antigone3
    Bumping
  • February 4, 2015
    Antigone3
    Bumping.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable