ABC News

14 April 2015

Can You Rock a Jumpsuit? 2 Sides to Trendy One-Pieces

NEW YORK — Apr 14, 2015, 11:07 AM ET
By LEANNE ITALIE Associated Press

Awards nights are usually reserved for showstopping gowns, but it one swoop, Robin Wright resisted the norm in a backless Ralph Lauren custom jumpsuit done in ivory as a contemporary take on the lady tuxedo.

It was at the 2014 Emmys back in August, when she was nominated for lead actress as the impeccably dressed Claire Underwood in "House of Cards." She didn't win, but her twist on the trendy jumpsuit earned her mega-votes for best dressed that night.

Jumpsuits are back, for day and evening, at least on the backs of celebrities.

Bellamy Young, the first lady of "Scandal," donned a sleeveless one-piece in a black-and-cream print with a skinny belt when she met actual first lady Michelle Obama on "The Ellen Degeneres Show." Michelle Rodriguez showed up at a photo call for "Furious 7" in a white leather capri length version with a long front zip.

And Lady Gaga hit the streets of New York in a sheer, bra-exposing black jumpsuit from Fleur du Mal — statement silver necklace, chandelier earrings and chunky bracelets in place.

Not everyone is sold on jumpsuits, however, and among those who have gone there, evening jumpsuits can still feel risky.

"It had a beautiful lapel and the fit and fabrication were amazing," said New York stylist Kemal Harris of Wright's plunging Emmy outfit, paired with a slicked-back 'do, dainty diamond studs in her ears and a long silver chain.

Harris styled Wright for the look and dresses her routinely on and off her Netflix show.

"The open back lent it a dress-up red carpet vibe, but it does feel a little risky. She's very open to taking risks, but she also loves any excuse to wear a pair of pants," Harris laughed.

So do lots of us, but New York accessories expert Alison Minton, with two evening jumpsuits left untouched in her closet since the late '90s, isn't sold on one-pieces for the masses.

"If you remember 'Charlie's Angels' wearing the jumpsuits — and I'm talking the show, not the movie — then I don't think you should be wearing one," said Minton, accessories editor for the site Newyorksocialdiary and longtime blogger at

"I'll give a little bit more leeway to the evening ones, only because they tend to be a little more elegant and they drape a little bit better," she said. "The evening ones look more like a dress."

Harris has worn a jumpsuit or two, lauding the old mechanic's style as it mounts a slouchy comeback.

"You have to take the entire thing down just to go to the bathroom," she acknowledged. "Apart from that, they're the most comfortable thing to wear. That's what I hear all the time from clients. It's just something fun and different. You get a little bored of the usual dresses and workwear."

Some tips and words of warning from Harris and Minton on how to rock the jumpsuit:


Wright and other celebs are lucky when they strut on red carpets. They're often in custom or have ready access to expert tailoring. Fit, Harris said, is ultra-important when it comes to the jumpsuit.

"Have it tailored, or make sure the fit is correct so you don't swim in it, so it doesn't lose your body shape. Because it is one piece, you have to make sure you've got some type of definition in the waist. And make sure the length is right," she said.

Minton cautioned that there's "not a lot of wiggle room" in terms of fit when it comes to jumpsuits off the rack if you have no plans for tailoring.


We already know how Minton feels.

"I think the jumpsuits are really cute on young girls, for day anyway, but I'm not a fan for somebody who's a little bit older and more mature," she said.

Harris thinks all ages can do jumpsuits.

"I think they're for everybody. They're so much fun. I love them," she said.


Harris said a wide range of cuts and fabrics are now available, lending the jumpsuit to many shapes and sizes.

"The thing with the jumpsuit is you can play with the silhouette in so many different ways. You can have a halter style that's narrow on top and has a fuller leg on the bottom. That would flatter a pear-shaped body. Or if you want to streamline your legs, I've seen ones that have a wider dolman sleeve and a cigarette pant bottom. That would be good for larger bustlines," she said.

The short-legged or short-torsoed should beware, Minton said.

"I think they look better on tall, slim bodies than they do on anybody else," she said.


Statement prints for jumpsuits might be dicey, Harris said.

"In general, solids will probably read better head to toe, unless you're that type of person that does wear a lot of print and can pull off a lot of print. It's a lot of surface so I would err on the side of solids," she said.

Fabric is equal to color when choosing, Minton said. For evening, go for drape in a silk or poly blend.

"Anything that's not clingy," she said.


Wright wore her Emmys one-piece with a pair of Jimmy Choos.

"You definitely need a great heel or a platform because the beautiful part of a jumpsuit is they give a nice illusion of length in the leg. They elongate the body," Harris said.

Long, loose necklaces like the one Wright wore inside her silk faille lapels are a nice look for one-pieces, she said.

For day looks like the boxy boiler suit, akin to the traditional mechanic's jumpsuit, Harris sees options in tank tops or T-shirts worn underneath.

"And you can roll up the legs and wear it with sneakers," she said.

For evening, Minton agreed heels are a must. She added: "Keep it classy with a clutch bag or maybe some dangly earrings."

Belting is also key for many styles, Harris reiterated.

"Keep the waist definition," she said. "Don't let the fabric overwhelm."