The History of the Jumpsuit

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The jumpsuit; we know it now as a playful fashion garment that only the style brave can pull off. However, it has a long history and a very practical beginning. Let’s take a look at the origins of this design and how it’s developed up until now…

Today the jumpsuit is used to refer to any one-piece design with sleeves and legs, but it was originally the specific term used to describe the utilitarian garment as worn by sky divers and parachute users who would literally be ‘jumping’ through the air – and needed protection from the cold temperatures of high altitude. Following the invention of the item for these purposes, jumpsuits were also adopted by pilots, motor racing drivers and skiers – again for their practical benefits – but in 1919 the first jumpsuit was produced.

Florentine Thayat came up with the liberating women’s design to go with the Futuristic fashion period of the time. It was made from one piece of cotton with seven buttons, straight cut legs and a belt fixture.

In 1923 a similar design came out of Russia, called the Varst, this time meant to be a revolutionary fashion item for men. Although during this time the jumpsuit was really still mainly used as a piece of practical uniform. It was during the age of original rock n roll that the jumpsuit began to make more of a fashion statement. Sported by many male music legends on stage, it seems they anticipated the feminine take on the garment that’s none today. Iconic and kitsch designs include the white and gold number as made famous by Elvis Presley and the psychedelic striped garment worn by David Bowie as his alter ego, the androgynous, Ziggy Stardust. Then there was the black and white check jumpsuit that became synonymous with Freddie Mercury and the diamond-check design of Mick Jagger.

Women in music have also embraced the jumpsuit as part of their stage wear. Take Britney Spears red PVC jumpsuit as worn in her video ‘Oops… I did it again’ or the leopard print design as worn by Mel B of the Spice Girls.

Today the jumpsuit is hailed my many other a female celeb. They’ve been sported by the likes of Stella McCartney, who famously wore a glamorous lace option, and Juliette Lewis, known for a sequin statement jumpsuit. Rihanna has also been seen in skin-tight jumpsuit designs and BeyoncĂ© often wears jumpsuits on stage and off.

If you take a look at the current high street collections, you’ll see that Jumpsuits will play an important part in Autumn-Winter 2013 wardrobes. You can opt for office ready black designs or go for a bold patterned look such as Aztec, Zig Zags, Animal Print and Tartan. Playsuits (a skimpier version of the jumpsuit, with no sleeves and short bottoms) should also be embraced this season; team with thick tights, Chelsea boots and a fitted blazer or with a pair of killer heels and a chunky necklace.
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