Dovetail Workwear Review
by Shannon Berteau of Bend, OR
Over the years I have tried various brands of workwear designed for women. This usually resulted in either clothing that felt like sand paper between my legs down to the knee due to the “sturdy” fabric, or the shape being so exaggeratedly designed for women that the fit was wrong: too much fabric in some areas and not enough in others. I have been most comfortable wearing hand me downs from my husband – luckily he is just a little bigger than me so it has worked out alright – but then I’m stuck replacing them quickly because they were already used in the first place and didn’t have much life left to give. So when I received an email from a company called Dovetail Workwear in Portland that made workwear for women I wasn’t immediately excited. Actually, the only reason I even contacted them for a sample was because they advertised a pair of overalls. Growing up I lived in overalls – my favorite being the railroad striped ones, but I had them in various colors. I had started to have a hankering for a pair of overalls again. As you can imagine, finding overalls that are comfortable when you are a four to twelve year old string bean is much easier than finding them as an adult. Now it isn’t just comfort that I’m interested in but they have to be complementary in other ways too, of course. So with my expectations set really low, I let them know that I would be interested in trying out their Freshley Overalls.
I tried not to get my hopes up before putting them on, assuming that I would be sending them right back again immediately after. But, amazingly – they are perfect. From the first touch of the fabric that was obviously strong, yet velvety soft like it had already been washed many, many times, my optimism began to build. I don’t know how they found this fabric, they call it a stretch duck canvas and it is 97% cotton / 3% spandex. Tentatively sticking a leg in, and another leg, holding my breath, I pulled them on, and lo and behold – they fit! I was working in the office that day so they didn’t have to do anything more strenuous than take out the recycling and bend around me as I checked in old boxes of manuscripts and bulletins and such. They were immediately comfortable; I didn’t want to take them off.
Upon further inspection, I found so many pockets! There are regular back and front pockets – even the coin slot, but it is the side pockets and the bib pockets that really got me excited. On the right hip there are three – small, medium, and large – perfect for pencil or screwdriver, knife, and cutters. On the left there is another extra large pocket – about the size of the back pockets – AND a zipper pocket tucked behind it of equal size! The bib pocket zone has FOUR layers of pockets! The one in front is smallest and has a fabric fold over snap keeping any dirt from getting in. Behind that is another pocket the same size and behind that there is one that is even bigger with a standard snap closure. And behind that (I know, right!) is another zipper pocket hidden on the side that I actually am embarrassed to say I didn’t even discover until the third time I was wearing them. Another great feature to the bib zone is a small eyelet in the bottom of the largest pocket. Through it you can string twine – I plan to use it to get my sugar snap pea trellising in place – it could also be used for wire, or even your headphones cord. The one mainstay that I found to be missing when I was temporarily dismantling part of our chicken coop is a hammer loop. I guess carrying one tool isn’t the end of the world.
I really appreciate two areas that have double thick fabric but still manage to not be overly stiff. First the standard spot: in front of the knees. Their knee patch goes all the way from the top of your thighs down to your shins. It is so helpful to have that extra fabric all the way down. I use my thighs as a work surface often and with these I won’t have to worry about the fabric (or myself) being damaged by wood or metal. The other place is at the back of the heel. Since you can order them in a range of inseam options this might not seem that important, but that heel zone gets dragged through the mud and snow and, even if you aren’t stepping on it, gets worn out faster than other areas so I appreciate the double layer of fabric.
An important feature for comfort instead of utility, but still important not to overlook, is the couple inches of elastic worked into the back of the shoulder straps. This makes sure you have plenty of room when crouching down or bending over, but also allows you to pull down the straps instead of unhooking when you need to get the pants down – for whatever reason… Last but not least there is a hook on the back, so you can take them off with your dirty boots when you come in and hang them up if you don’t desire to throw them right in the wash after each wearing.
In preparing this review I searched women’s workwear and what I first saw was a very cute pair from Duluth Trading Company with fold up cuffs on the leg and I think I would probably rip through the fabric within a couple weeks. The next items were of the Dickies / Carhartt variety, which generally tend to fall under the sandpaper fabric category. Thank you Dovetail Workwear for filling a huge gap. My initial response to their PR person, Amanda, upon receiving Dovetail Workwear’s Freshley Overalls was this: “I put them on first thing this morning and they fit perfectly. They are somehow extremely sturdy and super comfortably soft at the same time! Can’t wait to try them out in the working world.” And when I have, several times now, in my regular yard and garden work tasks as well as helping rototill fields and plant potatoes at the farm closest to my house, they have met my needs well. I have found their functionality and fit to be extremely satisfying and I think you will too! Their slogan: “Fit for the job – capable of anything” – seems appropriate for these overalls. They have offered our readers 20% off on their first purchase with Discount Code: SFJ20. Please visit: dovetailworkwear.com to see what they have to offer.