This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.MORE INFO
Back Menu Close
Image

Ask anyone serious about what has been summer’s – and will soon be autumn’s – must-have outfit, and they’ll have one answer: the jumpsuit.


Once associated with 70s nightclubs or the classic 80s/90s off-duty vibe of the denim overalls, the garment has been elevated to a new status – that of a closet staple both for easy day dressing and after-dark partying.


It’s easy to see why: in fashion terms, the jumpsuit is a fail-free style hit. It’s slip-on-and-forget-about-it kind of garb, can be paired with both flats and heels, requires limited add-ons – all you need are some solid accessories like earrings or necklaces – and cuts prep time in half because of its sartorial effortlessness. Given the fast-paced lives many of us lead, that’s gold.


Such laid-back appeal has characterised the jumpsuit since it was first invented in 1919 by the Florentine artist Thayaht, who wanted to create a garment both rebellious and liberating as an antidote to bourgeois clothing. Through the decades, the item has found its way from factory workers (both men and women) to fashion’s upper echelons – Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli was one of the first to think of the jumpsuit as a women’s garment in the 1930s, followed by Coco Chanel. Hollywood adopted it as early as the 50s, when Kim Novak sported a louche, one-shoulder jumpsuit in the movie Bell, Book and Candle, and later confirmed its panache with Farrah Fawcett’s deep-V silky emerald-green jumpsuit in Charlie’s Angels, one of the garment’s most iconic iterations.

Left: Diana Ross jumps for joy in a nautically inspired jumpsuit. Right: David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, by Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita/The David Bowie Archive
Left: Diana Ross jumps for joy in a nautically inspired jumpsuit. Right: David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, by Masayoshi Sukita. © Sukita/The David Bowie Archive

Pop culture, too, embraced the jumpsuit, from David Bowie to Mick Jagger and Diana Ross, injecting it with attitude and a touch of glam. The disco-diva styles of the 70s and 80s showed flared bottoms and plunging necklines, best accessorised with platform shoes and loud jewellery. It wasn’t a look for everyone: the outfit came to be considered mostly as something that only fashion-forward, out-there people would wear.


To that end, the baggy overalls of the mid- and late 90s were almost an anti-response to the garishness of the previous decades – and marked the decline of the jumpsuit as a ‘serious’ fashion trend.


Or so it was until 2009. That year, both Phoebe Philo and Stella McCartney rocked jumpsuits to the British Fashion Awards, giving it back its glossier edge. Celebrities followed suit – from Jennifer Lawrence in a Dior Haute Couture jumpsuit at Cannes Film Festival in 2014 to Sandra Bullock in a striking all-in-one by Zuhair Murad at this year’s Ocean’s 8 premiere in London.


In the intervening years, jumpsuits – or, as their workwear version is often referred to, boiler suits – have become everyone’s favourite item, and just about any retailer’s most popular pieces, from high-end names to fast-fashion labels to boutique designers. Several labels, from Whistles to Zara and Theory, even list them as their own section on their websites.


Our renewed obsession with all things 70s – just think of Gucci and Prada’s latest collections – has certainly helped revive the trend. But the easiness of the garment and the utilitarian-chic vibe it exudes are what’s made it jump (pun intended) back into the limelight and into our wardrobes.

Left: Model Lena Perminova takes the jumpsuit off-duty. Image by Yu Yang. Right: Diane von Furstenberg goes gilded for autumn 2018
Left: Model Lena Perminova takes the jumpsuit off-duty. Image by Yu Yang. Right: Diane von Furstenberg goes gilded for autumn 2018

New autumn versions come cropped and tapered, in block colours and loud prints. At Whistles, which even stocks a bridal number, the Victorian lace jumpsuit, they toe the line between smart and casual as in the case of the Kira spot floral silk jumpsuit, which is as cool with mules as it is dressy paired with a pair of chunky heels.


COS features a streamlined silk boiler suit with a twisted knot detail at the back that’s both fluid and super-sharp in its silhouette, but also carries a jersey number with a scoop neck and tapered cuffs perfect for lounging the weekend.


Zara spans short girly playsuits and floral, pyjama-style rompers, lacy looks and tweed ones with chain trims, to be worn with a turtleneck underneath.


Among fashion’s powerhouses, Diane Von Furstenberg has nailed the trend to perfection with a series of versatile and oh-so-urban-savvy styles, including a design with a vibrant bird pattern and flattering wrap details and a series of wide-legged looks that are a clear throwback to the 70s, and excellent options for the workplace. They can be found at Harvey Nichols next to an evening ruffle-trimmed, one-shoulder jumpsuit by Rebecca Vallance and a disco-ready sample from Boutique Moschino. The jumpsuit really does come in all shapes and styles, including the good old dungaree, as seen with Stella McCartney’s Kathy denim version, a highlight of the designer’s autumn collection.


As celebrity stylist Tanya Gill said in an interview with British Vogue earlier this year, ‘Jumpsuits are the epitome of a modern woman’s wardrobe’. She couldn’t be more right.

Category

Close