5.21.2008

Pointer Brand Overalls: A Review

Review: Pointer Brand High Back Overalls
Price: $38.00, before shipping

The Politics

For years now i've been wearing Liberty Brand overalls, but two things happened...well, three things, actually...that necessitated a change: 1) first of all, i ripped the leg in my best pair while sliding off of some rafters. 2 and 3) (mentioned together because one usually precipitates the other) i couldn't find them anywhere but Wal-Mart, and they started being manufactured "overseas." (Liberty is a brand of Key Industries. Key outsources. So does Dickies.)

My grandfather wore Pointer Brand overalls. I'd forgotten he did until i found Pointer's website during a search for American-made clothing. I saw that familiar looking dog and knew i'd come home.

When i found the site I was pleased to discover they're based in Bristol, Tennessee. Bristol, as you may know, is considered to be the birthplace of the music we now call "Country Music." That's because it's the town where, in 1927, Ralph Peer of Victor Records made the first commercial recordings of rural musicians. Jimmy Rodgers recorded Blue Yodel there. All this is relevant in a way to overalls, too, believe it or not, because in the early days of country music all the musicians were snappy dressers. They knew how to impress and entertain a bucolic crowd--just like any good televangelist--and they wore suits and ties and rings on their fingers. It took Nashville and it's love of slick commercialism and capital to recognize, in an early use of meta-textualism, that a wider audience could be reached if they dressed everybody as rubes, i.e. they put overalls on them.

Anyway, it was cool to know that not only was there a domestic brand of overalls available (Round House is another), but that some were produced so locally and were the overall of choice for Daddy Pigg (us grandchildren's name for my Granddaddy--and another story for another time).

The Selection

Pointer's got quite a few things to offer, including hard to find (but truly ridiculous looking) engineer's overalls--you know, with the pinstripes: good for making you look like an Appalachian mobster. They also have low back overalls--essentially the bib with suspenders around back, which are good for those of us developing a gut. They have pants and coats and...heck, just go look for yourself...

The Fitting

i followed the instructions for proper sizing suggested on the website, which seemed to me to make them way too big. Although i ordered them online, i also called to ask if i could send my pair back if they were too big. The lady on the phone answered on the first ring with "Pointer Brand" (a phrase she made at least 5 syllables long) and told me that would be fine. I paid for the initial shipping and to ship them back. They would pay to send the second pair if i needed them.


i needed them. I wear pants anywhere from 32 to 34 in the waist--i like my clothes to touch me as little as possible. Pointer suggested i buy what turned out to 38s. I figured they'd shrink a little bit, but still feared they'd be huge.
They were HUGE. Like airship huge. They were meant to be worn over clothes--hence the name overalls, of course. I should have know better. Often times, i don't wear them over anything. So i ended up sending back for a pair of 36 x 29s hoping that the new denim, manufactured domestically in a small town right here in South Carolina, would shrink substantially upon washing. I've washed them now and am cool with it, but next time i'm gonna get 34s.

Something i don't understand is the way the strap adjusters are set up. There is a lot of fabric on there. Like 8 inches too much for me. And you can't cut any off, i don't think, because the ends are actually bradded in to the buckle. I recognize many overall wearers need some extra fabric in order to work with big stomachs, but this was just too much. As it is, i've got them adjusted up as far as they'll go. This may turn out to be a good thing, as the buckles are all the way on my back now, as opposed to being on top of my shoulders. I've gotten many a pinch or bruise hoisting a big board up on a shoulder only to have that buckle be right there under it.

Another thing mentioned on the website was that the inseam of these overalls are cut big in the crotch to help facilitate wearing pants underneath them. The result is overalls that--no matter how small you get them--are not gonna make you look sexy. In fact, they give you something i learned back in my Elks Lodge-line-dancing-days-with-the-Osbornes' is called a "shit bag." You know: a big flap of fabric right at the bottom of your butt. Unless you got a big butt. I am not so fortunate.

The Quality

Pointer made my overalls out of 10 oz. denim. Round House and Liberty both use 11+ oz. denim. For reference, Levi's jeans are 12-14 oz. denim. While my Pointers are not going to hold up as long as they could if they were a heavy fabric (one day of roofing could do them in easily), they are also not going to be hot to wear, which is nice here in this South Carolina heat.

I like the deep, deep blue color of them. They are blue in a way that provides just the right amount of irony. Blue enough to be ironic for city wear, but not so blue as to be hipster. Blue enough to be taken serious by other non-ironic overall wearers, but not so blue...as to be considered an ironic city-wearer. You've got to give 'em props for straddling this impossibly thin line.

There are no big flaws to speak of. No messed up seams, no hanging threads. My only complaint may turn out to be a somewhat misplaced button for the bib hooks. One of them is a little too far inside, so a little bit of the bib on that side folds itself under. I hope this will fix itself during the break-in period.

Good things include a zipper fly. I forget to use or simply miss the button holes on button flys and don't like taking that much time. I like to pee a lot, so that kinda thing adds up over a period of time. Another nice feature is not having a overwrought amount of stuff stitched into the bib. Some brands i've owned have had two or even three different zippers up on the bibs. Zippered pockets inside of a zippered pocket, two of three different pencil holes and on and on. Pointer has scaled this back to simply one zippered pocket, a pencil hole (nice and short, so your pencil doesn't get lost down in there) and the traditional stitched pocket watch chain button hole way up at the top. I called Pointer (one of many calls, actually) to ask why they still put that there, and the lady said she didn't know. She then said, "hang on. I'll go ask. " She sat the phone down on the desk and i heard muffled talking in the background. I didn't hear what was said but evidently she was told that "it was for some of the old fellers that still liked to keep their pocket watch chain up there."

Here's my quick low down on Pointer Brand overalls:

Website: Three Yodels out of a possible Five. Needed better pictures.
Customer Service: Five and a Half(!) Yodels.
Fit: For me its gonna be a mere Two and Half Yodels. I think Pointers may be designed more with large people in mind.
Finish: Three and Three Quarters Yodels. I really like the zippers, but a little upset about the off-set button.
Over all: (ho ho ho!) Pointer get Four Yodels (for being from Tennessee and their lovely customer service.) I'll buy more of these because of their light weight and their domestic production.

9 comments:

Daniel said...

I discovered three really great things in 1982: Wool-felt crusher hats that kinda looked like a ragged-out fedora, but you could stuff them a pack and they'd keep the sun and the rain off you... These cheap French ring-blade pocket knives, which locked in place via a simple tin ring once you folded the blade out (not the best knife I ever owned, but a great $7 knife for a guy who's lost an awful lot of pocket knives over the years... and Pointer brand overalls.

I bought my first pair at the Mast General STore in Valle Crucis, back before it became Watauga County's No. 1 tourist magnet... I think they cost me $15. They were lightweight and loose and comfortable...

Anyway, I found I really liked wearing them rock climbing, and since I was teaching climbing at the time, I wore them a lot. There was no waist to bind you, and they were so roomy you could get into all sorts of positions and just keep going. In the summer I wore them only a T-shirt, or sometimes without anything else. In the winter I'd toss a sweater over the ensemble.

That first pair wore out pretty quickly, and I got one or two more before I shipped out to the army in 1984. There's a picture of me in Germany wearing my rapidly fading Pointers.

When I got back to the states I couldn't find them anymore. I did eventually find a pair and they were just a lot more expensive than I was willing to pay. Plus I was feeling a bit too grown up for Pointer overalls.

But I may just have to order another pair now that you've found them and they're still made in the USA.

Hey, um... when can I bring you your chain saw? I don't know your street address...

Alison said...

Wow, Dan--you've just made yourself cooler, a thing I wouldn't have said was even possible!

Biffle said...

dan:

you were in the army?

in 1984??

and: 575. just stand out front and holler like everybody else. no hurry, though. I have no pressing tree cutting needs right now, nor any zombies what need choppin' up, either.

Curtis said...

Hmmm. I wonder if they have an outlet- I'm only half a hour from Bristol. I'd love some overalls to confuse the Artistes at FSU. I've always loved overalls, and was pretty mad when Osh Kosh B'Gosh stopped making grown-up sizes.

Biffle said...

Curtis:

I don't know what they have there, but you can buy them there in Bristol.

And...

i forgot to respond the other day, but, sure, you can use that story!

Ryan said...

Greetings from Lancaster County SC! Just wanted to let you know after reading your blog I was convinced to buy a pair of Pointers, as I was debating between them and the Roundhouses. I do think Pointer makes a tailored cut as well. I'm cornfed so I need the full cut.

Thanks A lot!

Ryan Jones

Anonymous said...

Baxter,
I hope you got all the pointer brand overalls you need back in 08 because you sure can't get them now! We live in the Blue Ridge of Va, where every country store used to stock these overalls; my husband has worn them for over 30 years, whether he was doing farming or working in his pottery studio. Now they seem to be permanently out of stock except in sizes for peanut or elephant sized men. And each inquiry I post at the website says they'll be available in 3 weeks....I've been posting inquiries for about 3 months. I'm worried my husband will begin to work without clothes in protest to this situation.... he has that spark of rebellion in him......

Band collar jacket said...

Now very much against her will, she thought of the way Jace had looked at her then, the blaze of faith in his eyes, his belief in her. He had always thought she was strong. He had showed it in everything he did, in every look and every touch. Simon had faith in her too, yet when he'd held her, it had been as if she were something fragile, something made of delicate glass. But Jace had held her with all the strength he had, never wondering if she could take it--he'd known she was as strong has he was.

Anonymous said...

Pointer brand bibs are the best.I have worn them foe 30 years.Bill