There is a misconception that the only difference between a coverall and an overall is the regional: an American word versus a British one, but there ARE true definitions:-

In the British workwear industry, the words seem to be interchangeable. Search on any (other) workwear website for either term and what you will find is the definition of ‘overall’ for both (i.e. a workwear garment that covers the torso, arms and legs).

PPE Stores work hard to ensure we use the correct terminology for Overalls and Coveralls because we think things like that matter.

What are overalls? - trousers with a bib, holder, and loose straps for use over your normal clothes - they do not cover the arms

What are coveralls? - one-piece protective wear worn for heavy, manual work.

Whether you call them overalls, coveralls, a jumpsuit, or a boilersuit, it does not entirely matter so long as you get the garment you need. But if you don't get it right, you might find yourself ordering the wrong thing, especially over the phone.

What are Overalls?

Overalls have historically been associated with farmers and railway workers in the US. Modern usage see, farmers, factory workers, train locomotive engineers, painters, carpenters, and other tradesmen wearing this style of workwear.

Overalls gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s as fashion statements and deviated from traditional denim into other colours and embellishments. They made a comeback in the 90s around the world as a fashion development. But we don't talk about fashion much around here, we talk about work.

PPE Stores mostly stock Beeswift in preference to more well-known brands as they have an excellent selection of overalls across all their most innovative ranges. It started with the polycotton ranges, and now you'll even find flame retardant Hi-vis overalls. "Bib & Brace" overalls are becoming more and more popular in the UK. So popular in fact, that workwear and safety manufacturers are slotting a bib & brace into almost every workwear range.

Overalls are used especially in trades such as Joinery and Carpentry. They offer no restriction in upper-body movement so are perfect for hands-on trades. In the same vein, they offer no protection to the upper body at all, so you may need to think about a coverall if you need that.

What are Coveralls?

Starting with the denotations (the dictionary definitions) where ‘coverall’ will refer to the full body-suit garment, and ‘overall’ the garment that clips over the shoulders, here are the uses of the two:-

Coveralls are used by different workers ranging from engineers to fabricators to factory workers to medical professionals and firefighters.

Many industries use coveralls to protect workers from harm. Some are designed for warmth, breathability, and/or protection (i.e. water resistance, hazmat, fire/flame/heat resistance, and so on), depending on what your industry needs.

Factory coveralls are mostly designed to be breathable, comfortable and durable. They protect the body and the clothes underneath from harm/damage in heated, cold or hazardously dirty factory conditions.

Coveralls are also used for military purposes, such as in-flight suits and have been used since the beginning of World War II. When aviation was developed, the cockpits were unheated - with low-oxygen, high altitude flying - so pilots needed warm clothing with multiple buttoned pockets, snaps or zippers to prevent them from losing articles when in flight. There's nothing worse than losing your pen when performing manoeuvres.

Coveralls in Engineering and Heavy Industry

Historically, coveralls were worn by men maintaining coal-powered boilers. Since these men had to climb into the firebox of a steam train where coal was shovelled in, having a garment with no gap in the middle stopped soot from entering the lower half of the clothing. It also prevented waistband snagging as a person manoeuvred inside a tight space as well as coat tail snags as they exited backwards.

Coveralls are used for a range of industrial purposes, ranging with treatments for anti-static, flame spread resistant properties, different colour options, and accessories.

Overalls or Coveralls...

Whether you call them ‘overalls’ or ‘coveralls,’ these garments have a rich history, but make sure you choose one that provides the right kind of protection for your specific job.

So if you need help deciding which coveralls to purchase for your needs - or any workwear garment - Please contact the team at PPE Stores on 0115 952 3096 or email

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