Ahhh the jumpsuit…. This is one item of clothing that has been worn in various ways for decades!
They were worn by glamorous Hollywood starlets in black and white 1930s films. There were utilitarian versions worn during the second world war. Or the flared and psychedelic garments worn in 1970s discotheques! It definitely is a garment that stands the test of time. As with all fashion, it is slightly different in each incarnation. So how do today’s current jumpsuits match up to their previous relatives?
The jumpsuit could be seen as the ultimate, one stop dressing solution and there are many variations available on the high street. From wide legged to tapered leg, sleeves or sleeveless, plain or printed, jersey or silk. There is a jumpsuit for everyone and for every occasion.
The History of the Jumpsuit
The history of the jumpsuit goes back to 1919 when Thayaht, a designer and artist from Florence, designed a practical garment to be worn by parachutists – literally a suit for jumping!
The original creation was a simple T-shaped garment with few seams and buttoned up the front.
Thayaht was part of the Futuristic Movement, and the jumpsuit has since been used consistently as the preferred form of dress in many sci-fi films, books and TV programmes. E.g. Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and Logan’s Run.
Over the years variations of these practical jumpsuits or boilersuits have been worn by racing drivers, skiers, factory workers, prisoners in orange, as well as plumbers and other manual workers.
The appeal of this type of jumpsuit is that it is unisex and can cover a variety of body shapes and sizes. However, this also means that it isn’t going to be the most flattering garment for most women!
How Jumpsuits became fashionable
Fashion has taken the concept and transformed the humble jumpsuit into something more glamorous. This started with the designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel in the 1920’s and 1930’s. They created feminine and elegant silk versions for summer holidays on the South of France or for Hollywood royalty.
Jumpsuit wearing hit its peak in the 1970’s when various pop icons used the jumpsuit to enhance their stage presence. Think Elvis in Vegas wearing white and rhinestones; David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust; Freddie Mercury; Mick Jagger; Diana Ross; Suzi Quattro; Debbie Harry and ABBA. Meanwhile, disco divas like Bianca Jagger were strutting their stuff wearing skintight, flared jumpsuits at Studio 54. The Jumpsuit in the 1970s screamed attitude, confidence, and style.
There have been other pop stars that have utilised the jumpsuit over the last 30 years – Madonna, the Spice Girls and Britney Spears (in red vinyl).
The jumpsuits that are available to us today are not as outrageous or thankfully as tight fitting, as many of those seen on stage, but they can be sexy, glamorous, and incredibly useful garments to invest in. This all-in-one outfit can become your “go to” garment for a variety of occasions.
I have 2 plain navy jumpsuits (one smart and one more casual). These jumpsuits have been worn to weddings, to a conference, to formal functions, on a long-haul flight, to restaurants and to many, many parties. I can change the look easily with different accessories – shoes, necklaces, scarves, and jackets/cardigans.
The problems of wearing a jumpsuit…
Before I go any further, I do need to mention that the biggest drawback to wearing a jumpsuit is the “toilet issue”! For the majority of jumpsuit designs you will need to strip off to go to the toilet. Therefore, it is vitally important to consider how easy it will be to get undressed quickly, by yourself in a toilet cubicle. So, consider if you can reach the zip, buttons, hooks, and eyes etc. There are styles that fasten/zip up the front or more casual styles that can be stretched. My best advice when wearing a jumpsuit is to think ahead and start queuing for the toilet, before you are desperate!!
Sleeves – most jumpsuits won’t have full length sleeves – probably for the ease of getting undressed quickly (see above). However, if you wish to cover your arms there are options with different sleeve lengths out there.
So, if you have been browsing the shops and ignoring the jumpsuit – think again. There is a chicness to this multi-purpose garment. Use it on a city break, at a wedding , on a cruise, or on a beach holiday. AND you could wear it multiple times on holiday if you were conscious of items that you were packing!
Whether it is for a formal wedding or an alternative summer dress – a jumpsuit really can become one of the most versatile garments in your wardrobe.
Other places to look for jumpsuits include:
Phase Eight for formal/wedding styles
Boden for patterned and colourful options
Next for a variety of different styles
If you are struggling to find a style that you like, I would be delighted to help. Click here for more details…