In Defense of the Jumpsuit


In Defense of the Jumpsuit
an essay by Kayten Schmidt

To me, a jumpsuit is that rare garment that is at once utilitarian and luxurious. Uncomplicated, it is something you can remove in one grand gesture—unzip and your outfit falls to the floor. It’s sexy because it’s not sexy; it’s an outfit that you don’t have to overthink.

Coveralls were first dreamt up by Italian futurist artist Thayaht. Hoping his multipurpose garment could become a national uniform, he even published the pattern in the newspaper (call it early open-source design). I’ve seen some of the original sketches and they resonate with me. Clothes shouldn’t overpower your personality or impede your range of motion. Jumpsuits allow the kind of spontaneous movements required for making art, like, say, a little modern dance while getting your morning coffee.

Plus, a jumpsuit is still an unexpected choice for a formal event. It’s the antithesis of try-hard dressing, with all its body-compressing undergarments. It says, “I don’t need to work at looking good.” Imagine Dorothy Dandridge in a strapless one-piece and a single above-the-elbow bangle or one of Halston’s many muses striding along in something dramatic and wide-legged. Cool, irreverent, unbound—what could be better for a party?

In truth, I feel more powerful in a one-piece than I do in a dress. Somehow, by making the less feminine wardrobe choice, I feel free to act more feminine. Frankly, I just feel free.

Kayten Schmidt is an LA-based artist and creative consultant. Here, she wears a Madewell Kimono Jumpsuit, a Biltmore® & Madewell Panama Hat and The Stitched Jemma Sandal.

Photography by Angi Welsch.