For a while, I was a woman on a mission. What was the grand goal ahead? Was I working towards some big achievement? Well, yes, actually (more on that soon), but for the purposes of this piece of writing – no. I had a far simpler mission. I was a woman desperately seeking a jumpsuit.
I hunted through clothes rails, combed eBay, sniffed out every one-piece in Rokit and Beyond Retro, all to no avail. Being rather tall and very picky (eighties? No, no darling, not quite what I’m looking for. Think good tailoring and louche elegance, not shoulder pads), I knew it was going to take a while… I was in this for the long haul.
Let me take a step back and unravel the logic. Why did it have extra significance, above all other wardrobe items? Call it the elusiveness factor. Unlike, say, a cotton sundress or good silk shirt, the jumpsuit is hard to get right – to be tucked and seamed for perfect fit, providing an optimum amount of confidence. Think of it as the relationships conundrum of the clothing world. Intelligent, interesting, attractive, compatible people where it just works aren’t always easy to find. Plenty have qualities making them ideal friends, but nothing more – well suited to fabulous conversation and raucous evenings, rather than longstanding, unwavering devotion. (Actually? Who am I kidding? That’s exactly how I view my best friends too).
It’s easy to try plenty of them on for size – nearly there, but a little too tight, or short in the leg, or designed in such a way as to make your torso seem twice as big. There are also many that one could settle for, if necessary, but with the knowledge that they’re only temporary, merely a stopgap on the way to a better fit. But oh the moment when you find the ideal! Suddenly the waiting is worth it. Now you can look fabulous, and feel all the fiercer. Whether it’s some strappy black thing, or a more robust creation complete with sleeves, buttons and a collar, there’s a hard-to-pin-down quality to the best jumpsuits - a kind of easy, practical glamour adding extra slink to your stride (plus, obviously, the less sophisticated frustration of having to half-undress every time you go to the loo). Jumpsuits are powerful. They mean business. You can’t stand around apologetically in a jumpsuit. The right one won’t allow for that.
I don’t think I’m the only woman who’s been seeking out the superlative jumpsuit. I’ve had a handful of conversations/ rounds of commiseration with others over the pursuit of this seemingly unattainable garment. I guess it’s a hard one to get right. It must suit your body shape, flatter without either constricting internal organs or leaving you with lots of excess fabric, and hold its own with some audacity. Not much to ask…
I finally found mine in a charity shop (where else?), hesitantly taking it the changing rooms, convinced it wouldn’t accommodate my length of leg. But I got lucky. I’m not sure yet if it’s the one for me, but for now it suits just fine. And I tell you what – I feel rather formidable whenever I’ve got it on.
Everything I'm wearing with the jumpsuit is also second hand. This set of observations was partly inspired by a Twitter conversation earlier this week, when the ever-excellent Sophie Heawood was singing the praises of (and looking amazing in) a particularly delectable jumpsuit from BOB by Dawn O'Porter. In response, Niki from Miss Magpie Fashion Spy swooped in quick-smart with her pens to whip up some wonderful illustrations. She kindly allowed me to reproduce them here. I think between the two drawings, she aptly captures the potential of a fabulous jumpsuit to uplift, enhance and generally make the day a bit better. Oh, and while we're in the subject of all things all-in-one, I should point out that Vix rocks a catsuit like no one else. See here if you need convincing.