How the Boiler Suit Became Jumped Up

My mum had a burgundy zip up jumpsuit in the 1980s. She wore it with calf length boots and a bubble perm and I thought she was the coolest thing on two legs. In those days jumpsuits were very zippy – main zip up the front (so much easier than at the side or the back when you need the loo), zips across each thigh and occasionally the odd zip on a sleeve or an ankle.

Miss Selfridge jumpsuit reduced to £20

Miss Selfridge jumpsuit reduced to £20

Jumpsuits were also elasticated in all sorts of places – at the waist, at the ankle and sometimes even at the wrist. Then of course there was the most obvious difference between those boiler suits they wore then and those we wear now – they were called boiler suits. Not the most alluring label for a supposedly glamorous item of clothing aimed at fashionable young women.

Whistles jumpsuit £225

Whistles jumpsuit £225

The very first incarnation of the all-in-one trouser suit for women was the 1960’s catsuit designed by Courreges. The body stocking, which was lycra enhanced, was its more slutty cousin – the clue is in the name. Next up was the androgynous zippered jumpsuits by Pierre Cardin in his ‘Space Odyssey’ phase. And then finally the boiler suit in the 1980s, all baggy and oversized and “as seen on the million dollar man, which is the only acceptable place for it”, according to my boyfriend proving yet again that sometimes men just don’t get it.

1960s catsuit by Biba

1960s catsuit by Biba

Reiss jumpsuit £245

Reiss jumpsuit £245

Rehashed trends always get re-branded with a new name but the boiler suit looked exactly like the sort of thing you might see on a plumber so it was well named, this century’s version does not. Enter The Jumpsuit. An item of clothing so ubiquitous it now has its own section on most fashion websites. Like the dress, it is subject to trends and so last season’s jumpsuit may not look quite so current as the latest offering. Looking ahead to autumn winter 2014, jumpsuits are smarter, more tailored and slightly more serious. Whereas this summer’s look has been more girly with lots of florals, ruffles and low necklines.

My Oasis playsuit reduced to £35!

My Oasis playsuit reduced to £35!

I have several jumpsuits and just last month took the plunge and graduated (or downgraded?) to my first playsuit. I know, I wasn’t sure either and actually after I bought it in the sale I worried I couldn’t get away with it. But when I showed my boyfriend he thought it was lovely and that when I’d said ‘playsuit’ he’d imagined something far skimpier (imagined? Or hoped for? Yikes, suddenly I’m thinking of those rompersuit things that babies wear) and that this was in fact not obviously a playsuit. So anyway, while that slightly defeats the object, you can happily go arse over tit in a playsuit without showing your knickers. Also, I wouldn’t wear a dress this short but for some reason, like shorts, in a playsuit it’s acceptable. The wind can’t blow a playsuit up in the middle of a busy street either. The benefits are endless. When one day someone comes up with an answer to the loo problem, this will be the perfect garment.

Miss Selfridge playsuit £39

Miss Selfridge playsuit £39

About aftercarrie

I help people refine their wardrobe to suit their shape, colouring and lifestyle. I am a style consultant, personal shopper and colour analyst working in London. Be the loveliest possible you.
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