22 Jul 2020

The Boiler Suit: What Goes Around Comes Around

There’s nothing new about a boiler suit.

Not in my world, anyway.

Boiler Suits have a unique place in my memory because I wore one the day I met David, my husband of many decades. I’ve known him longer than I haven’t – which is 40 years and I still remember exactly what I wore for our first encounter.

I was “tricky” about the meeting.

I didn’t want to be introduced, as it was a blind date set up. A girlfriend was determined I should meet a friend of her current boyfriend and was certain it would all work out perfectly. At the time I had no idea how right she was and was extremely anti towards a fix-up. I set out to sabotage the “date”.

What do boiler suits and first dates have in common?

My mother loved an all in one – she called them jumpsuits – and had a wardrobe of choices. The outfit I chose to wear on that day was more about looking like someone else than me. My friend was suitably shocked when I arrived, I can still see the expression on her face; the outfit was completed with my mother’s shoes and sunglasses. She was a fashionable woman but even so as a 20-year old I looked completely wrong. As I left home I remember my mother looking at me with a quizzical eye; she always knew when I was up to something.

My little game was so much fun and David didn’t give me a second glance. Fast-forward a couple of weeks and it was a whole other story. An accidental meeting at a party, where I appeared as my self and the rest is history. We still laugh about my get up on that fateful day.

The boiler suit is back and there are some very cute ones about.

Dressed up in the right way, I prefer boiler suits worn casually and with flats – mules or sneakers – they are a fresh alternative to pants and a tee. Jumpsuits come in all forms – wide pants, narrow pants, sleeves, no sleeves and leg lengths vary. There are different waist fittings; drawstrings or waistbands – buttons and press duds.

I’m too short for a palazzo pant style and prefer a regular leg and a sleeve and as a casual option that’s where I stay. A waistband is my preference as it’s more flattering and I also like the suit to be roomy – even slightly baggy. A tight jumpsuit is not for me.

These were a forgotten piece for me until I started looking for skirts and then stumbled on one I loved and fell down the rabbit hole of memory. Over the years I have worn many different styles of boiler suits and now we are reconnected I think it’s one to remember.

A boiler suit isn’t for every day but some days they work out just fine. xv

The Boiler Suit: Not The One I wore On My First Date

the modern utility  ||  joe’s rika utility  ||  alex mill linen  ||  good american khaki  ||  the linen square neck  ||  the japanese essential

wear with

valencia mule  ||  vallerie mule  || veja sneakers

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image kitri studio

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Loved your story of what you wore the first time you met David!
I first met my hubby at a fancy dress party. He was a bit of a ring in as he was a friend of the host and not a member of the particular university group holding the party. So he wore normal clothes. But I went as a St Trinian’s girl in my old school navy gym slip (very short), carefully laddered black tights and suspenders showing, red stilettos, a red plastic cigarette holder (though I’ve been a lifelong non smoker) and red lipstick. We met almost as soon as I arrived and just clicked!
But it’s not the kind of outfit you can replicate for everyday wear! Best wishes, Pamela


No… but it obviously was memorable and worked on that evening :)
Thank you for this lovely memory Pamela xx


I’ve had only one jumpsuit in my life, bought in swinging London of the early 70s. Very of its time -a a large splashy green floral print – it looked surprisingly good (but maybe I was deluding myself) and was comfortable. But the bathroom “situation” put me off.
One more fancy dress story. A couple of months after we met G and I were invited to another fancy dress party, this time by a friend studying science. As they would all be different guests from the Arts party I decided to reprise the St Trinians look and dressed G as Julius Caesar, in sandals and a sheet draped as a toga pinned together with one of my large brooches on the shoulder. It wasn’t brilliant but not bad – he wore bathers under it. We arrived early as asked by the friend hosting but we soon saw that none of the other gues also just arriving were in fancy dress. We sat in the car pondering. G kept saying are you sure it was fancy dress! Just then we saw Wee Wllie Winkie lurking in the shrubbery, wearing a man’s light blue flannel nightshirt, a long sleeping cap and carrying an okd fashioned china candle holder with a circular handle and with a burnt down candle. We skulked out of the car to his side and said “shall we go in together?” He was massively relieved. Our friend confessed that so many people complained about having to wear fancy dress that she cancelled it and told me not to worry. But forgot to tell everyone. After the party had started a witch, a “rock star” and a princess arrived, but not together. Best wishes, Pamela


When I hear boiler suit the person who comes to mind is Garance Doré. She is flawless in her styling of this particular style.


The thing that has always dissuaded me from wearing one, no matter how cute they seem to be:

How do you go to the bathroom? Especially at work or a party or (gasp) an airplane? At home you can just take the whole thing off and place it on the bed or something.


Hello Vicki!

Now you’re taking me back to a time when I did wear these! Let’s see…my accessories were a bandana scarf around my neck, wooden platform shoes and even a pair of wooden hoop earrings! I was 21. That jump suit was comfortable and very versatile but these samples you share here are a wonderful update to a very comfortable piece that can be worn in the house or to go out. Thank you for bringing back the memories!


I recognise the accessories… How I never broke my ankles with those platform shoes!! :)

Teddee Grace

What a cute story! And so interesting and romantic that you ended up together for life anyway! I loved the two jumpsuits I had back in the 70s and 80s and, in fact, they were two clothing items I actually wore out. I’ve been looking and looking for one that suits me and it looks as if the Modern Utility choice is exactly what I’m seeking. Thanks!


I loved your story Vicki so here is mine….I was in high school and going on a date…then, we only had one bathroom and it was downstairs on the main floor…so as I came down the stairs with large curlers in my hair I had to pass my sister’s date who was just a friend. I made a joke of it and quickly walked by. Later he told me he knew I was the one…we have been married 50 years now:-)
I really like jumpsuits on other people and wished I felt more comfortable in them. I did own one when I was in college and it was yellow velour…I absolutely loved it then. Good memories yours and mine.

Jennifer Connolly

What a fun story. Although I love the look, I have never worn one because they seem difficult to get in and out of. They were jumpsuits to me too.

Linda B

Totally love the story of how you met your husband! Thanks for sharing that.

I keep being tempted by the boiler suits. . . One of these days I will try one, I promise!


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