Rompers are a polarizing garment. People who love them really love them, and people who hate them really, really hate them. It’s the same with jumpsuits, but the reactions are even more extreme. One-piece garments generate strong emotions that appear to be inversely related to the amount of fabric involved.
For years I was in the latter group. I hated everything about rompers. I mentally categorized them with pacifier necklaces, clear handbags, and giant hair bows as things that looked adorable on very small children and certain avant-garde street style stars, but nobody else. Rompers just made everyone else look like trend-jumping balls of awkward ruffles.
So much of the problem was probably execution. Most rompers on the streets and in stores were made of quilters’ cotton with busy patterns that looked better suited to dressing jars of jam than grown women. There was a surplus of ruffles, and oftentimes bows appeared. They could have worked for a certain variety of ironically twee young hipster girl, but I hadn’t been one of those for years.
I wouldn’t say that people can be “too old” for rompers, or any garment really, but whenever I looked at a romper I saw something that was just too infantile for the version of me I wanted to present to the world, so I eschewed the onesie and wore dresses pretty much exclusively.
But last summer I switched teams. I am now Team Romper, and I will defend even the most girlish, ruffle-adorned onesie
to the death in the comments section.
The weather is what finally converted me. Last August my town was uncharacteristically hot. (The prices of air conditioners doubled on Amazon overnight.) Even my beloved maxi dresses weren’t helping. I needed something with less fabric, but my skirts couldn’t get any shorter without becoming ice skating costumes.
So I did it, I googled, “Romper.”
I figured there had to be something out there that would give me the easy, one-piece dressing I got from dresses, while being as short and bare as humanly possible and looking more put-together than most shirt and short pairings. It took some looking, but I eventually found some that looked good to me.
This one from Zara is the one that finally got me. It had a loose, breezy fit that wouldn’t get sticky, and straps wide enough that one could wear a bra underneath. The fabric was silky, with a nice drape that made it look a bit formal. (Throw a vintage statement belt on with it, and it’s formal enough for cocktails at the country club, if you’re doing that sort of thing.)
Somehow, my romper actually looked grown-up. And once I tried it on I loved it even more. On the model it looks a bit oversized and shapeless and baggy around the waist, but on me it draped prettily and the length was flattering and made my legs look much longer than they are. Even in flats, I felt downright willowy.
The first day I wore it outside, I was a convert. It was breezy and comfortable, and I felt cool and fashionable in it. A tourist mistook me for a celebrity and asked for my autograph. (I gave it to her, because I live by Ghostbusters logic: If someone asks you if you are famous, you say yes.) As soon as I got home, I started shopping for more.
This summer, as soon as it started to get hot I started romper shopping again. Now that I know how comfortable they are and how good they can look, I am Team Romper.
Just try one; you won’t regret it.
(Photos: Getty, Sincerely Jules, Zara)