A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE JUMPSUIT
Some fashion trends come and go, very few have staying power. However the jumpsuit has adapted and evolved over the years, and is now an iconic piece of clothing that will never go out of fashion.
In 1919 jumpsuits were intended for professionals in aviation, sportsmen, racing drivers etc, until the first ‘all-in-ones’ were introduced to women by Coco Chanel in the 1920’s. The trend started as ‘lounging pyjamas’ and then transitioned into wide-leg trousers for ladies to wear while yachting, which then naturally became resort wear and ‘beach pyjamas’. Women wore these ‘jumpsuits’ over swimwear for strolling the promenade!
At first, only the most affluent women wore them on on holiday on the beaches of the Riviera, but by the 1930’s the style had become more widespread. Women in America adopted the trend after seeing their favourite screen stars wearing them on film, like actress Ann Southern (left).
During the 1940s women started wearing more practical jumpsuits or ‘overalls’ or ‘coveralls’ as they were then called, as they were drafted into do men’s work during WW11. At first they wore the men’s factory clothing, but it soon became clear that this was impractical, so the ‘overalls’ were adapted for women and designed to fit women’s bodies. Also known as ‘rosies’ they were made in denim or cotton twill. The ‘coveralls’ were also designed to offer more protection, with long or short sleeves, fitted at the waist with large pockets for tools etc. Many women at home also had them to jump into when a siren went off at night, when they were in their pyjamas, as they were comfortable and quick and easy to get into.
During the 50s and 60s the beach pyjamas style was revived with wide pants or ‘palazzos’ and flares. Celebrities began wearing jumpsuits, and gradually they began to grace the wardrobes of women from all walks of life, as they were such a versatile piece of clothing that could be worn anywhere and any time!
The jumpsuit really came into vogue during the 60s, and slowly made its way into pop culture. Designers like Elsa Schiaparelli (see stripey jumpsuit above) started incorporating the jumpsuit into her avant-garde collections. And celebrities like Elvis Presley and David Bowie, were known for rocking a jumpsuit on stage. They stayed popular throughout the 70s, peaking during the disco era. Jumpsuits were popular for men and women, but the trend continued for women well into the 80s. Their popularity experienced a downturn in the 90s, but now, jumpsuits are back and here to stay! A jumpsuit would be a perfect addition to any up-to-date, hip wardrobe.