We’re charting the evolution of the jumpsuit, from its first flights to this year’s pick for Oprahs Favorite Things.
Oprah, a devotee of the jumpsuit, says the one-and-done piece has timeless appeal. When she bought her first jumpsuit—a cashmere onesie—more than 20 years ago, Oprah admits that, at the time, she thought they were just for lounging at home, and didn’t consider them appropriate for work or socializing. Then Oprah started traveling in jumpsuits and discovered how easy they make dressing for a journey. As she says, “All you have to do is add boots and a coat and you’re done.” Pink Jumpsuit Womens
Soon Oprah had jumpsuits in denim, cotton, linen, silk, and corduroy, and she realized she could feel put-together in them while doing everything and anything, whether she was in front of an audience of thousands or going for a walk at home. “It’s my living, working, traveling uniform,” says Oprah. That’s because, as she has aptly pointed out, jumpsuits “look good on every body type, whether you’re petite, tall, curvy, have a long torso, or are short-waisted.”
It’s not surprising, then, that this year, one of Oprah’s Favorite Things is a jumpsuit. She selected Rivet.Utility’s super-cozy, terry-cloth Maven in part because she’s a fan of the company and can personally endorse its quality—“I think I may own more of your jumpsuits than anybody else,” she told the founder, Daun Dees, over a surprise video call where she first told Dees her newest style was picked as a Favorite Thing. But perhaps more importantly, Oprah chose it because she thought the cut of this jumpsuit would flatter any body type—and the material feels sooo good on. As Oprah says, “I work out in it, I hike in it, I sleep on the porch in it.”
Dees, who has four daughters and one son between the ages of 10 and 21, says we have her kids to thank for the Maven. “They asked me if I could make a jumpsuit out of super-cozy sweatshirt material that they could wear back and forth from school,” she recalls. “I said, ‘Of course!’” Dees’s passion for jumpsuits goes way back: “I’ve been wearing them for years because they make getting dressed so easy—no stressing about what to wear or if my shirt is coming untucked,” she explains. All of hers are made in the Los Angeles area, which was a non-negotiable for her as she started her business.
“My vision for Rivet.Utility was twofold: Solve the dilemma of What do I wear? while making women feel confident and comfortable, and create jobs in the community I live in,” says Dees. Choosing not to send the manufacturing abroad means the prices of her jumpsuits have to stay a bit higher—but what the customer gets in return is a high-quality piece that helps support more than 60 workers here in the United States. “All I do is make jumpsuits,” Dees says. “So you will know as soon as you put it on that there was somebody behind it who was passionate about its fit and feel.”
The much-loved design of a jumpsuit has stood the test of time. The fashion staple began as a uniform for aviators and industrial workers in the 1910s—the term jumpsuit literally describes what they would wear should they have to parachute, or jump, out of a plane. It was worn by ahead-of-their-time women as well as men; early aviatrixes and factory workers benefited from the liberating, practical ease of the garment.
Designers soon took note of its practical-yet-chic appeal and started whipping up elegant-looking suits for women to wear at home or around town. In the 1930s and ’40s, movie stars and women of means were lounging in elegantly draped versions with dry martinis at the ready. By the 1950s, the fashion item had reached broader audience, with playful cuts and romper styles that made them a hip outfit for running errands, walking on the beach, or hanging with friends.
Female mechanic doing her part for the war (WWI) effort, circa 1916.
The 1960s ushered in mod prints and daring low-cut tops that made them the perfect outfit for nights out, while the ’70s brought in glittery spandex jumpsuits worn by rock stars and disco-clubgoers, along with colorful prints and billowy styles that easily functioned as street-to-evening wear. In the ’80s, the jumpsuit returned to its original utilitarian silhouette, making it viable daywear for the increasing throngs of working women.
Fast-forward to today, and the jumpsuit is firmly cemented in the fashion lexicon.
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