How to Style a Jumpsuit

Unlike dresses, jumpsuits can be worn any time of the day. They are also comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Although jumpsuits were initially designed as utility wear, like boiler suits and dungarees, they have now become a fashion garment. They can be worn with casual shoes for a relaxed occasion or even high heels for a more formal look.


A jumpsuit is an all-in-one outfit that has the look and feel of pants and a dress, with the added bonus of being easy to put on. Its roots go back to 1919, when Florentine designer Thayat created a suit specifically for parachuters and sky divers to wear while jumping out of airplanes. It was one of three functional garments designed for occupational needs (the others being boiler suits and dungarees, which were invented by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss).

The jumpsuit really gained momentum as a fashion item in the 1930’s, when Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli (a rival of Coco Chanel) gave it some style chops. It was the fashion world’s Rosie the Riveter uniform of choice during WWII, when sportswear designer Vera Maxwell churned out sporty styles for the millions of women who worked in factories as part of the war effort. Katharine Hepburn later brought a bit of Hollywood glamour to the jumpsuit with her silk one-piece in the 1937 film Stage Door.

The jumpsuit became even more popular in the 1960s and ’70s, when it was embraced by counterculture movements and the disco scene. Wide-legged jumpsuits with bold patterns were a signature look for celebrities and other style icons of the time. During this time, designers like Halston, Oscar de la Renta, and Yves Saint Laurent all sent their versions down the runway.


Whether you want to look chic and sophisticated or casual, you can find the perfect jumpsuit for your outfit. Choose a wide-leg jumpsuit for a more relaxed look, or jumpsuit a fitted style that hugs your body like a dress. You can also choose to add a belt for extra definition. Then, finish off your look with a pair of high heels. This makes the perfect outfit for a night out on the town!

The jumpsuit is at once a blank canvas and an endlessly adaptable garment. It may evoke the future, as in the uniform of Star Trek, or a past of factories and manual labor. It can be worn to work, for a dinner party, or just for going out. And it can be as simple or as complex as you wish.

Some designers, such as Norma Kamali and Yves Saint Laurent, reinterpreted this piece by adding a masculine touch to the look. Others, such as Elsa Schiaparelli, created feminine designs that embraced the idea of women wearing pants. This made the jumpsuit more of a fashion icon, symbolizing female empowerment. Rosie the Riveter was perhaps the most influential woman to wear this type of uni-garment, but there are many other ways to rock it! The key is to be confident and to know how to style it properly.


A jumpsuit can be made from a variety of textiles. A light, drapey fabric like chiffon or silk offers breathability and comfort, while a heavier one like linen or cotton provides durability and structure. For a more casual jumpsuit, choose a comfortable jersey knit. For a dressier style, opt for silk or a densely woven denim.

The jumpsuit’s early roots are in workwear, specifically parachute gear for skydivers and pilots. Over time, the all-in-one silhouette was adopted by professionals, giving it a sartorial reputation that has never really faltered.

In the late 1960’s, jumpsuits became a favored fashion staple among Studio 54 crowds and high-fashion designers, notably Halston and Oscar de la Renta, brought it into the mainstream. With the jumpsuit advent of the disco era, the jumpsuit became even more popular.

This jumpsuit pattern features pleated front bodice pockets, a back shoulder yoke, surplice-style neckline bands, cuffed long sleeves and a faced button-front placket. It’s designed for stable woven fabrics and is suitable for sewers with advanced or intermediate skills. The pattern includes instructions for sewing a sleeve tubing channel (piece F) and 3/4″ upholstery cord to the left sleeve front, but you can substitute a similar fabric for the tube if desired. The pattern also calls for 1/2″ single-fold bias tape to complete the waistline binding.


With jumpsuits becoming a major trend this season, there’s a lot of options out there. However, finding one that fits your frame is important. Whether it’s too baggy or too tight, the look can be unflattering. Boston-based stylist and podcast host Tara West recommends opting for a tailored fit, especially when it comes to the waistline. “I find cinching at the waist a flattering choice as it creates definition and shows off your curves,” she says.

A jumpsuit’s leg length also plays a role in how tall it makes you look. If the pants hems pool around your feet like Jessie J’s or bunch at your ankles like Marion Cotillard’s, then schedule an appointment with a tailor as soon as possible to have them shortened. If you wear flats like Gigi Hadid, consider hemming the pant legs down to just above your feet or directly at the ankles instead of rolling up the cuffs.

It’s not difficult to alter a man’s jumpsuit into something that will be worn by a woman. Hemming the legs and arms is a simple process that won’t take very long. In some cases, you might need to add a crotch piece or gusset for a better fit. In other cases, you might need to make the armpits longer. This will take more sewing, but it’s not as complicated as elongating the strips on a top.

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