I’ve been trying to pinpoint the unique feeling you get when you wear a boilersuit (or overalls, depending on your lexicon), but it’s hard to identify exactly what it is. I think it’s partially the buzz you get from having an instant outfit to literally climb into; it’s a little bit of the novelty factor that comes with an all-in-one; lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s the sense that you’re ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice. Like Anneka Rice.
Some of you will, I hope, remember the amazing 80s TV programme Treasure Hunt, where contestants had to use maps and reference materials to solve clues and communicate instructions to smiley blonde Anneka, who was constantly jumping breathlessly from a helicopter and running around, against the clock, to solve the clues. What did she wear? A boilersuit! In fact, many boilersuits in all manner of go-getting colours. Yellow was probably her most iconic. If memory serves, those jazzy all-in-ones were called flying suits in the 1980s.
Those who don’t remember Treasure Hunt might remember Anneka’s other piece of classic 80s/90s telly, Challenge Anneka, where – you guessed it – the all-in-one was her outfit of choice, too. Accessorised with a Dune Buggy. See also Kevin Webster from Coronation Street for the purist mechanics’ take on the trend, or Ghostbusters.
A more modern, “fashion” reference is Horses Atelier, a Toronto-based label that started out doing only overalls (in the US and Canada, overalls mean dungarees) and has now branched out into separates. For inspiration, though, check out the “jumpsuits”. The styling is super cool and effortless-looking. Which, really, is the whole point of all-in-ones.
The boilersuit is now big news on the high street (something that The Pool predicted towards the end of summer), so now’s the time to give them a try. To help you navigate what’s out there, I’ve split it into all eventualities, from office to weekend – for overalls are truly versatile.
The work overalls
For work, you want to be going for “sharp” as your adjective, so something that feels a little more tailored or buttoned-up. Mango is nailing it in this area. This checked wrap-collar style is v chic, especially with a pretty blouse worn underneath and a pair of Western-style boots to add a bit of edge. In fact, statement ankle boots are a great choice with all-in-ones – try with the trousers rolled up to reveal the top of the boots. This black, buttoned-to-the-neck style is a really nice option for work, too, thanks to the streamlined silhouette and smart styling, courtesy of black kitten heels worn with pop socks, which honestly I wouldn’t have thought to do but looks really good. Also, note the fancy little bag you could add if you’re going out after work.
The party overalls
Satin is a good way to do going-out overalls, like the hugely popular Delaney style from Kitri, which has already sold out and been restocked. You can just add earrings and sandals – heeled or flat work with the ankle length. Or, if you really want to go all out, check out this Norma Kamali lamé number from Net-A-Porter. In the 1970s, Kamali styled the New York Dolls, so, yeah – super cool. Love the kimono sleeves and sash belt. But, mainly, it’s the silver-liquid lamé that has me hooked. Wear with ankle-strap heels – the cuffed hem allows it. See also leopard, for a statement going-out look. This Zara collared-denim style is fantastic and just needs simple shoes.
The weekend overalls
This is where your khaki, denim and utility styles come into play. This & Other Stories boilersuit scores extra easy points, thanks to the zip and also the adjustable button belt. And this wider-legged denim number from Ganni is perfect weekend fodder – the legs are slit at the cuffs, making them trainer-compatible. As it’s getting colder, the styling with a ribbed polo is practical, as well as chic. Note also the bumbag – not to everyone’s taste, but certainly works here.
Corduroy is also a wonderful weekend fabric, and very on-trend, too. This cream Mango style looks great and is super comfy. If you buy in a size up, you can layer knits underneath, too, when it gets really cold.
Finally, if you want to go really deep on this trend, might I suggest a browse through Amazon’s “continental flight suits” and military overalls. They’re meant for actual workers (they’re in the business section), but I think with rolled-up legs and heels they’d look amazing for a night out. They also tend to be heavy on zips and pockets, which is never a bad thing.