Friday 19 January 2018

Meet your new best trend: the jumpsuit

From 'Top Gun' to the Baftas red carpet, celebs are taking the humble one-piece mainstream with fashion-forward capes, slits and cut-outs. How will you wear yours, asks our reporter

Lady Gaga at the Oscars.
Lady Gaga at the Oscars.
Sarah Greene at IFTA 2016
Caroline Flack at the BAFTAS 2016
Laura Whitmore at the BAFTAS.

Tanya Sweeney

If you're an A-lister on the red carpet, you have one mission - to be seen. Yet amid the waves of wannabes, nearly rans and gonna-bes also trying to make style statements of their own, it can be hard to stand out.

Yet it wasn't for want of trying on the part of a few wily fashion types on red carpets in both Dublin and London last weekend.

For a number of stars stalking the BAFTA red carpet on Sunday, there was only one thing for it, and that was to break out the thoroughly modern jumpsuit.

Heading the charge was Bray native Laura Whitmore, who showed serious fashion chops in a Ralph Lauren jumpsuit complete with an eye-catching keyhole cut-out.

Caroline Flack flashed the flesh in a brave Halston number that incorporated a thigh-high split. Claudia Winkleman opted for simple and chic in a black bandeau jumpsuit, and Poldark actress Heida Reed - certainly a face to keep an eye out for - teamed minimal accessories with a simple black flared jumpsuit, too. A safe choice, but endlessly chic and sexy nonetheless.

Actress Alexandra Roach caught the attention of shutterbugs with a similar outfit, teaming hers with a dramatic billowing wrap.

All in all, the androgynous look was a clever palate cleanser to the usual red carpet fare of couture gowns and flowing trains. As an added bonus, the jumpsuit is comfy, doing away with the potential for several wardrobe malfunctions. Little wonder that they've been the red carpet look of choice for a host of others of late, from Selena Gomez to Taylor Swift.

Closer to home jumpsuits were a resounding hit at the VIP Style Awards: Teodora Sutra landed fully on radar with a hot pink ensemble complete with cape sleeves by Umit Kutluk, while Aoibhinn McGinnity looked sharp and seasonal in a grey topshop jumpsuit.

Of course, Amy Huberman got the jump on them all, causing something of a frenzy earlier this year when she wore a Lennon-Courtney jumpsuit.

And where Amy blazes a sartorial trail, others are sure to follow. The Amy effect was in full swing as Dunnes reported actual fisticuffs in their stores as followers fought to get their hands on the coveted garment.

Around the same time, Lady Gaga - never one to shy away from a daring fashion choice - took to the Oscars red carpet in a directional cream jumpsuit. It was a thoroughly modern take on a night when voluminous gowns were a dime a dozen.

Taking a leaf ostensibly out of Gaga's failsafe fashion handbook, actress Sarah Greene made a break from the fashion pack on this year's IFTA red carpet with a modern red jumpsuit.

She wasn't the only IFTA attendee to take a break from convention; Lucy Kennedy also took a clever sidestep from the dress code with a cream jumpsuit, teamed with a waist-cinching sash.

Proving its ongoing popularity, the humble jumpsuit also made more than one appearance on the Met Gala parade. Amid a sea of eye-catching metallics, sequins and technological eye-poppers, others decided to keep it simple and slightly demure.

Potential First Daughter Ivanka Trump caught everyone's attention in a red-hot Ralph Lauren jumpsuit, while socialite Julia Macklowe had Twitter in a froth with her own stunning metallic all-in-one.

So why is the humble jumpsuit - formerly, a casual staple in the 70s and 80s - having such a moment now?

"People are kind of over dresses," offers stylist Lisa Fitzpatrick. "I used to wear a lot of bling dresses, but with age you start to look a bit like Shirley Bassey. I think less is very much more."

Stylist Rob Condon believes that the proliferation of jumpsuits is a kick-back of sorts against last year's tuxedo deluge.

"You have an outfit in one garment and because it's so simple you can do so much with hair and make up," he says. "Try a statement necklace, or a topknot, or gel back the hair.

"Jumpsuits used to be casual, but now designers have made them really tailored and dressy," he adds. "Best of all, the look is accessible in Zara or River Island."

Lisa Fitzpatrick wore her trusty monochrome jumpsuit, snapped up in Dublin's Havana boutique, to Adi Roche's recent charity luncheon, and she says it was a canny investment.

"I've worn it 10 times already," she reveals. "The thing is, I had to try on quite a few. Only about one in 20 of them work on me."

There's a jumpsuit out there for every body type, says Lisa. Much like finding the right pair of jeans, it's about doing the spade work and trying a few on.

"There are bootleg ones, v-neck ones, all kinds," says Lisa. "Some people who have long bodies and shorter legs might find that the bottom half of the jumpsuit might rise too high. Some fabrics aren't very forgiving, either, so that's something to look out for.

Rob adds: "If you are top heavy, you don't want one that's too plunging at the front. A cigarette pant will help if you are a bit hippy, while the wide 70s leg can swamp shorter people."

Jumpsuits are likely to be big noise at weddings and music festivals across the land: Lisa warns fashion followers to be wary of practicalities, like using a Portaloo: "Fortunately, many of them are cleverly designed so that the zips are in all the right place."

"If you want to look stylish, you can't think about the practicalities", counters Rob.

The jumpsuit wasn't the only slice of effortless androgynous tailoring that made an appearance on the red carpet. Vogue Williams went for a classy and crisp white shirt at the VIP Style Awards, teaming it with a romantic cream skirt. It was a winning combo, and one attempted on the BAFTA red carpet with slightly less aplomb by TOWIE's Sam Faiers, who ended up on many of the worst-dressed list for looking 'dated'.

Gaby Roslin also incurred the wrath of the fashion set thanks to her choice of sarong-style skirt teamed with a black shirt.

Whether by accident or design, there were more 'fashion-offs' between the BAFTA and VIP Style Award attendees.

Roz Purcell left her signature two-piece suit at home and went instead for a show-stopping Chloe gown, complete with a daring, thigh-skimming slash.

Tess Daly, meanwhile, put any personal life scandals firmly to one side by rocking a similar look: a white floor-length number with its own sexy side split. A style statement in and of itself, certainly… but for a slice of effortless, timeless élan, the smart money says that jumpsuits will be around for the forseeable future.

And with red carpet regulars attempting to outdo each other time and time again, things can only get more interesting from here.

Irish Independent

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