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.