Dressy Jumpsuits: The Phases and Influences

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Dressy Jumpsuits: The Phases and Influences

As the popular maxim crafted by Leonardo Da Vinci and widely maintained by Steve Jobs holds that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” when it comes to the art of creation. Simplicity in the design of goods and services is synonymous with its sophistication, in the sense that the basic concept can serve a greater purpose. An embodiment of this maxim is the jumpsuit, it represents the combination of a one-piece garment with sleeves and legs which hold no essential coverings for the feet, hands or the head. The jumpsuit was originally created mainly as a sportswear and a work attire, with the craft of the design which purpose was created towards extremely dangerous work and not fashion, the jumpsuit served as an outfit for mainly sky divers, parachutes pilots, and professional race car drivers. Through the attributes of the jumpsuit curtailed the name giving to the clothing, it served as a metaphor which meant “a suit used for jumping”.

The purpose of the jumpsuit has seen several phases same as evolution has, it has existed through time with different purposes overtime. A Florentine designer who went by the name Tuta Thayat created the first ever jumpsuit around 1919. This jumpsuit served as a garment worn by parachute pilots and skydivers. The design may have been very simple and basic, but Tuta Thayat made the jumpsuit to serve a sophisticated purpose. Rare instances concerning the use of jumpsuit by pilots can be sited in the first solo. The first solo is the world first solo complete transatlantic flight was major recognized flight in history.  On May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh completed a nonstop flight from Long Island, New York to Paris, France wearing a jumpsuit designed by Tuta Thayat. Same as The Apollo 11 which symbolizes the first trip to the moon was done in jumpsuits by Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins.

With the growing skepticism which has been shackled to dressy jumpsuits led to a slow rate in the acceptance of dressy jumpsuits in the fashion industry. Swaying away from a more work or sports attire, Tuta Thayat designed a jumpsuit called “The Tuta” in the 1920’s to serve as a revolutionary movement for the middle class. This was a simple jumpsuit made out of cotton to serve as an everyday basic piece of garment to wear. In the creation of the Tuta, Thayat was appealing to the working class and also using the clothing as an anti- bourgeois statement to make a ridicule out of the social classes system which existed in that era. This attempt was null, the Florentine upper class society tented to purchase the Tuta making Thayat’s purpose the exact opposite of it. The skepticism grew across the globe, Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova, two Russian designers created “The Varst”.  The Varst was a jumpsuit created to serve the same purpose as Thayat’s, to create a revolution. The Varst was a complete failure due to the fact that early soviet Russia was not into fashion trends making the designs of the jumpsuit not take off.

The world war presented an avenue for the recruiting of men from their homes onto the battle field to defend their countries and their nations.  This led to the reduction of the men in the nations and created an opportunity for women to rise up in society. Fashion legend Elsa Schiaparelli use this opportunity to create the third phase of the jumpsuit, this jumpsuit was called “the first high-fashion jumpsuit”.  This jumpsuit was created purposely for women in the 1940’s getting towards the Second World War, the jumpsuit was made out of a green silk featuring large front pockets which symbolized women being in charge in the absence of the men during the Second World War. With Elsa Schiaparelli paving the way with “the first high-fashion jumpsuit”, designers such as Yves Saint-Laurent ,Norma Kamali and Irene Galitzin in the 1960’s and 70’s created more luxurious jumpsuits which became very popular. The “Palazzo pyjama” was of the most popular jumpsuits made in the 70’s due to affiliations such as Elizabeth Taylor, Aubrey Hepburn, and Jackie Onassis.

Dressy jumpsuits became popular in the music industry with several celebrities creating their own brand of the jumpsuit to be sold and worn. Elvis Presley popularly known as the king of rock and roll was one of the first actor/musicians to make jumpsuits very popular. Elvis performed mostly in a white overall jumpsuit, this created the avenue for other musicians such as David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust), Freddie Mercury Mick Jagger and Eminem to create their own version of the jumpsuit. Jumpsuits were not only for the celebrities or the musicians, the disco era in America saw a variety of people wearing wild bright colored jumpsuits, this became a really popular look during that time. During the 80’s the making of dressy jumpsuits grew bigger as the music industry also grew in size, Devo’s Video for whip it features a series of jumpsuit which established a strong base for music and Jumpsuits.

The jumpsuit today has taken a different tow, with contemporary designers such as Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney setting the fashion trends, jumpsuits are now created to be fitted as possible with a laid back touch featuring a nip in waist which accentuates the contours of the human body and keyhole hand sleeves proportional to the size of the pant sleeves. The modern look stems from the external influences around the world such as Africa and Asia. Leading the creation of different types of jumpsuits in various Asian and African fabrics. This has enabled several designers out of these continents to exhibit and portray their cultures through the dressy jumpsuits they make. Clothing which forms part of the culture of the people has evolved from patches and cover-up to fully machine-sewn dresses; so has the evolution of jumpsuit taken place from the heart of Florentine to the main line of fashion shows in Milan and Paris.

Judging from the history behind the jumpsuit, the maxim still holds that “simplicity is indeed sophisticated”. This validates that a jumpsuit is not just a piece of clothing- it represents more, it served as a cover up for the human body, a revolutionary medium and a factor contributor to the cultures of people. Its growth over the decade has slowly eliminated the skepticism surrounding it, making it more acceptable in society. Jumpsuits have contributed a major quota to the fight for social oppressions such as Marxism and misogyny through an introduction of the various phases of the jumpsuit. The last few decades have seen a major change in the outlook of jumpsuits, with the creation of playsuits and romper which seeks to include the masculinity aspect of clothing to the jumpsuits.

In a nut shell, in looking out for a more suitable wear for any occasion within an affordable price range and very comfortable to wear, it would be advisable to go in for a jumpsuit due to its simplicity and history. Nina Garcia, a Colombian fashion critic, when she was about 9 or 10 years old stated that once she grew up, obsessed with jumpsuit until she owned one and she did not actually buy but she fell in love with every piece of the garment. This testimony should resonate in your mind every time you see a jumpsuit.  



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