Let’s talk about an article of clothing that never got its day in the shade, never quite said “winner.” Call it a jumpsuit, romper, what have you. Let’s talk about the one-piece.
What first comes to mind are those full-leg, skintight polyester jumpsuits popular in the ’70s, when unisex equaled sex and polyester was for some inexplicable reason OK. During the drugged-up disco era, people were either a) so thin and beautiful from all the coke they snorted that this actually looked good on them or b) too high to care, and the skintight jumpsuit was living large, beatific camel toe and all.
What we’re seeing around now for spring is not exactly this, but a considerably less glam version from the ’80s: the unholy romper, with shorts. Often paired with scrunchy socks and neon tees, these shapeless toddler-like rompers were like something out of a Benetton ad, sported by freckly, multiracial kids with good teeth. This type of one-piece is a little scary, a little weird, although good for hiding kids and small sandwiches in. I Heart stocks several of the ’80s originals in the back of their store, for $65 to $80 each, as well as carrying an unflattering pin-tucked version from Rachel Comey’s spring line for $275. Meg carries a slightly easier one to wear, a knit-jersey romper with a halter for the top, for $160.
We’re also noticing a jumpsuit of the baggier, more tasteful flight-suit variety. Preen had several neutral ones in their safari-inspired collection for spring. It was also revisited in Marc by Marc Jacobs‘ Spring 2005 collection, his ode to the mid-’80s and bands like Bow Wow Wow. Picture Devo. Picture Gwen Stefani, with nothing but a bra underneath in “It’s My Life.” Chloë Sevigny, everyone’s favorite downtown skank/style maverick, has been rocking a style with shorts for some time now, snazzily pairing it with heels. Oh, jaunty Chloë! We’re loath to admit whenever the Chloë does good, but this is perhaps the romper’s sole attractive incarnation. Society for Rational Dress’s spring version, approximately $200 at Vice, has broken us down, made us start to think weird, crazy thoughts about the one-piece: Could it indeed be cool? Is it possible not to look like an asshole in this? When paired with Society’s wood-gathering huntress boots (very chic Atreyu in The NeverEnding Story) we think so. And you’ll never have to worry about matching your top to your bottom again—although peeing sure is a bitch.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 29, 2005