Thursday, July 26, 2012

Romper Room

If ever there was a utilitarian piece of clothing that I’ve adopted as a go-to piece in the dead of summer, it’s the romper. My mother bought me my first romper when I was a teen in the early 1970s, and I wore that simple dark green cotton one-piece for decades. I loved it so much that when I finally wore it out a couple of years ago, I took it to my tailor and asked her to make me a new one – identical in every way except I wanted it rendered in black this time. The result is a simple outfit which looks appropriate whether I am hosting a summer dinner party at home (as I was last Sunday evening) or dressing for a sultry summer commute to Washington D.C. for a day of research at the Library of Congress, like today.

With a winning ability to be dressed up or down, this comfortable summer staple should be a must-have in every woman’s wardrobe. Today I cinched the waist with a stretchy wide belt from Target, donned low-heeled gladiator sandals in black and bronze by Limited Collection which I purchased in Ireland earlier this month, and added fun mixed-metal jewelry at my neck, ears and wrist.

According to blogger Monica Weston of, the romper emerged during the Victorian era as the first casual clothing actually designed for children. There was initial backlash when women began to adopt it as a fashion statement, as anything with divided legs was not considered "ladylike", and the ridicule has continued down through the years as the fashion world has repeatedly rejected this whimsical onesie as regressive and tacky, most recently when the romper re-emerged in Brooklyn in 2006.

Despite it’s detractors, the look persists. Why? Ms. Weston speculates that it’s because progressive, mainstream women realize how functional and flattering the romper can be. Major fashion houses, including Gaultier, Marc Jacobs and Jason Wu, have embraced the look and are now featuring it in their summer line-ups. I am a fan, and I’ve always been a fan. And judging by the compliments I received on my outfit today, I’m not the only one.

As Ms. Weston concludes: "the romper is fresh. It’s a new silhouette, a new outlook, a practical, streamlined approach to fashion that’s forward-looking rather than regressive. It’s a summer sundress 2.0, all the attractive qualities (free legs, pretty silhouette) and none of the drawbacks". I heartily concur.

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