The Weird and Wonderful History of Onesies

“Being different and thinking differently make a person unforgettable. History does not remember the forgettable. It honors the unique minority the majority cannot forget.”

– Suzy Kassem

A 5-Second Intro

Some of you reading this article may be wondering: just what the heck is a onesie?

At times mistakenly spelt as “onesy”, a onesie is a one-piece jumpsuit or pajama that has made its way from:

  • Being worn in the privacy and comfort of the home lounge and bedroom;
  • To being sported outdoors; and
  • Even as formal wear all the way to the Oscars!

The Onesie Revival

The creation – or should I say, resurrection – of the onesie was all thanks to a guy named Steve Pandi.

Steve PandiHe’s the guy second from the right.

Steve, a musician/entrepreneur, first came up with the idea to allow his bandmates to have something quirky to wear onstage during rock concerts. Reception to his band’s onesies just exploded, causing onesies to become in top demand from fans and renowned artists.

Being the enterprising fella that he was, Steve was immediately prompted to begin manufacturing and marketing these costumes under the brand name of  “JumpinJammerz“.

Steve’s company took off like a horse stung in the arse by a bumblebee, and it seemed like no time that everyone was wearing JumpinJammerz. On the streets, in cafés and even on well-known TV shows!

But before we talk more about this trendy tsunami wave that is the onesie, let’s turn back the clock for a bit.

Once Upon a Time

 It may sound hard to believe, but the onesie actually first showed up in the 1700’s. While it quickly gained popularity in the UK, the fad disappeared almost as quickly as it came, being absent from the annals of fashion for the next century.

Out of nowhere however, this hardy one-piece pajama made its reappearance in the 1880’s, being known as union suits. They were created by a company based in Utica, New York, and were mainly catered to women who were beginning to favor a more relaxed way of dressing. However, the suit quickly gained street cred for being fashionable “lounge wear” for both sexes for a period of time.

Union suitAn advertisement for union suits.

In the 1930’s, it became known that Sir Winston Churchill was a fan of this one-piece attire, which boosted its popularity – at least for a while. While the onesie began to fade in the background again, it found a niche market in keeping infants and toddlers warm during the colder seasons.

World War II hit about a decade later, and its onslaught saw the creation of yet another one-piece suit in the UK – the siren suit. The siren suit was designed such that in the event of an air raid, you could jump out of bed at a moment’s notice and quickly make your way to the closest bomb shelter. And still be kept warm to boot, despite not having time to look for (lights were usually kept off during air raids) and grab warm clothing.

Winston Churchill in a siren suitWinston Churchill in his siren suit.

The onesie was therefore the perfect outfit – not only did it keep you warm, it also ensured that you would be decently dressed while huddled with strangers in close and crowded quarters, as were Britain’s bomb shelters then.

Ironically, the success of the siren suit likely had a strong influence on the decline of the popularity of the onesie after the war ended. After all, it probably served as a bad reminder of those many anxiety-filled nights. Imagine waking in fear to the sound of screeching sirens, then joining everyone out in the streets together quickly to make your way to relative safety, most people dressed in siren suits – it’s understandable that not many people then ever wanted to see a onesie again.

Fast Forward, Back to the Present

What began almost 20 years ago as a concert stunt by Steve Pandi for his rock band’s live appearance has become nothing less than an integral part of pop culture, as JumpinJammerz literally caught fire and went viral almost overnight.

In the early 2000’s, JumpinJammerz were spotted on celebrities on top rated TV shows such as Mad TV and CSI. Everyone was screaming for them. In 2007, high-profile celebrities were also seen dressed in JumpinJammerz at the Oscar and Emmy awards.

The popularity of onesies has only just kept on growing from there! It’s not unusual to catch a glimpse of celebrities such as Brad Pitt or Ariana Grande – to name but a few – out and about town dressed up in one, and there is no shortage of people flocking to get themselves one of these one-piece suits every day.

Celebrities in onesies

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Onesie-manufacturing companies have been popping out of the woodwork since around 2008, doing their best to grab a slice of the pie. Some cash in by producing onesies similar to Steve’s JumpinJammerz, while other companies focus on creating entirely original and unique pieces.

The market is flooded with every design imaginable, for every age, and for both men and women.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the onesie is here to stay for good this time.

 

Itching to get a onesie of your own? Check out the following related posts:

 

Image credits: Telegraph (featured image), Norcalnews, Wikimedia Commons (union suit / siren suit), Essential News Marbella

2 thoughts on “The Weird and Wonderful History of Onesies

  1. JOhn says:

    As a society, children are becoming adults too early, whilst adults are reverting to children (or at least, teenagers). Onesies are perfect for the sad adults around who don’t want to grow up and shoulder their responsibilities. Watch out folks, reality is on it’s way!

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