I fear I’m late to the party with the boilersuit trend. Praise be, frankly, because they all look dreadful on me. I can’t see what all the fuss is about – even when they don’t look outrageously unflattering they still make a lot of people look like a Super Mario brother.
And before a million people get all offended again (you should have seen my DMs on Instagram after I slagged off leggings as outerwear!) I’m not criticising people for wearing boilersuits, I’m criticising the boilersuits themselves. Satan’s overalls. If you took a boilersuit and chopped it in half, you would be left with the world’s two most unappealing fashion items: a cropped denim jacket and high-rise, relaxed-fit, elasticated Mom jeans.
I can tell you now that the boilersuit has been specifically designed by sadists to accentuate everything you don’t want to accentuate and to lose the rest of you in a swathe of thick, starchy denim. Actually – retraction – the boilersuit wasn’t designed by sadists, it was first made, I’m sure, by very practical people to serve an important purpose which was to provide suitable workwear for people who require hardwearing garments. That’s right folks – workwear! It’s as much an appropriate fashion item as surgeons’ scrubs would be, or, I don’t know, chef’s whites. (Mind you, look at how well Crocs did.)
Before we go any further I’d like to draw a quick distinction between The Boilersuit and The Jumpsuit, mainly because – apart from the naked-on-toilet situation – I think that jumpsuits are great. There are loads of jumpsuits I’d wear on a regular basis – flattering, easy, surprisingly chic, sometimes in lightweight cotton, other times in luxurious silk… Tuxedo jumpsuits, seventies floaty chiffon jumpsuits, little playsuit jumpsuits, jumpsuits with risqué zips that go all of the way down the front.. I’m on board with jumpsuits. But a boilersuit is not a jumpsuit.
Let’s take a look at what makes a boilersuit a boilersuit, shall we? It’s usually cut from some sort of dense, unforgiving denim or hardwearing fabric that doesn’t so much drape from the body as stand from the body, as though you’ve wrapped your torso in a large piece of cardboard box. It possibly has very unattractive elasticated cuffs and the sort of waistband that makes you want to hide in the attic for eight years. And it’s like this because a boilersuit is intended to be a practical item of protective clothing for heavy manual work.
Why in the name of all that is holy do we want to be taking fashion inspiration from garments that (for most people) bear absolutely no relevance to their daily lives? What is this heavy manual work that people are doing? Why dress like a porno plumber when you don’t have to?
I get it: the boilersuit is an easy option. You just slip it on and you don’t have to think up separate tops and bottoms – it’s like a onesie but slightly more chic. Slightly. But it’s just the whole style of it that gets me – denim I can do, one-piece I can do, but not denim cut into the sort of shapes I’ve seen from the high street boilersuit. Shapes that even look bad on the mannequin. And I always think, if something looks shite on a plastic person that has been specifically moulded to make clothes look good, it’s not going to look great on me.
So let’s move on to my “Ruth Tries Trends” practical session; the part where I actually try the trend. I’ll admit I was slightly flamboyant with the colour choice here – I just thought why not? – and that I could have probably done with a size up, but I feel as though this example of a high street boilersuit is pretty representative of most of them.
“What have you come to fix?” said Mr AMR when I entered the kitchen. The grin faded when I walked in further and revealed the leopard print stilettos – mentally he was probably trying to work out the quickest escape route so that he could phone the police and have me locked away for crimes against fashion.
“Give me the drill,” I said, “I have to take some photos and prove what a ridiculous trend the boilersuit trend is.”
“Why don’t you go and ride on the digger?” said Mr AMR. “The builders have left the keys in and it’s not often you can get photos of yourself on a digger.”
(This is the sort of lunacy I’m up against whenever I ask Mr AMR to take pictures of me.)
“Builders don’t wear boilersuits though,” I said, hoping to nip the whole digger idea in the bud. The main reason I didn’t want to go on the digger was actually that the builders hadn’t left yet and the idea of mounting the machinery wearing a bubblegum pink babysuit and leopard heels wasn’t that appealing. They already think I’m odd. I fed the chickens wearing a lab coat and wellies the other day because I couldn’t find my dressing gown.
“Yeah,” said Mr AMR, “but who does wear a boilersuit?”
Indeed. Even plumbers don’t wear them anymore. Ours used to turn up in jeans and a sweatshirt if he turned up at all. And then he put the cold and hot taps the wrong way around. (See “You Had One Job” here.)
So scores for the boilersuit were low in terms of looks and credibility, though my bright pink number actually had quite good cuffs and – thankfully – no zip down the front. But what of comfort and ease of wear? Well ease of wear couldn’t be better, so long as you get the right size so that you don’t have to dislocate your own shoulders to squeeze it on. Comfort I’m not so sure; there was the restrictive feeling of being encased in thick, starchy denim. The sort of denim that makes you feel girthy and slightly grubby. Then there was a slight sense of being trapped in my own clothes – if I bent over (ooh err!) then I could feel everything being all onesie and sewn together and I hate that feeling.
So the boilersuit’s a no from me, then, but as that particular fashion has passed us by already I think I’m safe anyway. If someone would make a boilersuit in very lightweight fabric with a flattering shape and with a less uncomfortable seam in the gusset area then I’d totally be on board. But that, my friends, is basically a jumpsuit. I have issues with those too, by the way (read this), but at least I’m working my way towards acceptance…
The boilersuit I tried on is thankfully no longer available.