overall & pinafore

St Michael

overall & pinafore

St Michael


Pinafore overall in white cotton/rayon mix, printed over the whole ground with circus performers, and towards the hem with a circus Big Top scene. Full-length cf opening with 4 carved blue casein buttons; long sleeves with button cuffs; turn-down round collar; small shoulder pads; patch pocket. Machine sewn.

Display Label

Decorative housecoats similar to this one were commonly worn by housewives from the 1920s to the 1950s as protective overalls when performing routine domestic cleaning or cooking tasks. They had forerunners in the voluminous white bib-aprons of the late nineteenth century, and they had bedfellows in the printed cotton wrap-around pinafores of the 1940s and 50s (see below). They were largely abandoned during the 1960s and 70s as cheap and comfortable leisurewear took over and household appliances made life somewhat easier. Nowadays, household cleaning is not a major part of most women's daily work, and it can be more speedily undertaken in an easily washable tracksuit or t-shirt and jeans. This overall was spotted by the Director of Manchester City Galleries at a jumble sale in Southport about 15 years ago and was recently presented by her to the museum. It is a particularly distinctive example, with its boldly-printed circus performance, no doubt to cheer up the wearer during her household duties; and it has a twin, which we also have, printed with an equally colourful ballet scene with dancers and musicians on a stage. Both these housecoats have the CC41 labels for the wartime "Utility" scheme which controlled the use of all fabric and clothing manufacture. Retailed by Marks and Spencer, they typify the cheap and cheerful stock sold in their stores after the War.

Object Name

overall & pinafore

Creators Name

St Michael

Date Created




accession number


Collection Group


Place of creation




© Manchester Art Gallery

Fill out my online form.