As an adult in full possession of my senses, I bought my first pair of overalls a few summers ago. It was a little before the one-piece trend broke on the runways. Mine is a sort of sexy clown suit that I found in a vintage shop: red-and-white polka-dot cotton halter-neck wraparound overalls that tie off in the front and look suspiciously like a Simplicity sewing-pattern project. I put them on two or three times a summer, but I’ve discovered that they require ebullience to carry off properly. You’ve got to be hardnosed to withstand the jokes about clown-nose accessories, not to mention the five-metre distance my children keep between themselves and me in public.
We are a few seasons deep into the onesie trend and, miraculously, it goes on. I have been an extremely late adopter on onesies—either writing about or buying them—simply because they seem so weird to me. Several times I have been tempted to try on some unappetizingly droopy silk parachute suit in a store, and then I think “Why would I want to wear something that requires me to totally strip down to have a pee?” Can you imagine being in a stall, clutching armfuls of your voluminous Roberto Cavalli jumpsuit to keep it from dragging on the floor?
When you think about it, there are a thousand and one situations in which it would be supremely embarrassing to be wearing a jumpsuit. Take, for example, the bronze taffeta
Alexander McQueen number with the harem pants and tightlooking sleeves. What happens if you’re wearing that on the day you have to go to the doctor’s to get a flu shot? I worry that this may be just one example in a vast minefield of potentially compromising onesie situations. Of course, I sound like I’m contradicting myself because I did start out by confessing that I own (and actually paid money for) red polka-dot overalls. But I bought them because they are so ridiculous that they manage to transcend trend; the onesies I see on the runways, however, are asking to be taken very seriously indeed.
There are a few tips I can offer about onesie-wear that I have gleaned from my neighbour Eve, who is an expert onesiewearer. She owns five—one in black motorcycle leather—and she got them well before they appeared on the runway. So one could say, perhaps, that Eve originated the trend. Eve had her first onesie made in India. It is in medium-weight black cotton with gold piping around the pockets, and Eve considers it her dressiest onesie. She says that it’s the perfect office-to-dinner outfit (if she worked in an office!): All you have to do is change the belt and add a Line Vautrin necklace.
The belt is essential to the baggy onesie, though some of the spring versions—like Stella McCartney’s bustier-top, cropped-leg onesie—are slim and should be left as is. As for shoes, Eve wears vertiginous heels with everything, even the double-zip orange-red boiler suit that she wears to the pool for her daily swim. (“You can take it off in two seconds,” she exclaims. “You just unzip and—voila!—you’re in your bathing suit.”) But I fear that wearing very high heels with this spring’s crop of rompers may mess up their ironic kindergarten vibe and send you careering off into Barbieland. On the other hand, if you are aiming for the Jodie Foster prepubescent hooker look in Taxi Driver, by all means throw on platform heels and, while you’re at it, a wide-brimmed hat.
The trickiest thing about jumpsuits is that, while many are cut to be nice and roomy around the hips and butt (except for the catsuit variety, which is not so much in fashion), the one-size-fits-all onesie is an illusion and the optics can be surprisingly harsh. This seems unfair, given that onesies often fulfill both the first and second laws of how to look thinner than one really is (monochrome, preferably black, and an unbroken vertical line). “You have to be in good shape,” explains Eve, who is in good shape. “They are unforgiving.” So, though the pitfalls of the onesie are many and varied, the look is terribly fashionable and, if you are not overly neurotic like me, terribly convenient—why, after all, do we put them on babies?
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