The other day I was in a boiler suit for lunch. The men at the table laughed and made the usual comments about whether I was looking for a car to service – though admittedly it was Kwik Fit Blue.
Meanwhile, women understand all too well the allure of this long-overlooked piece of clothing. So what exactly is a boiler suit?
Well, it’s a lot more laid back than its cousin, Suit, and a lot less sexy than its younger sister, Suit.
It has none of the comical undertones of its brother-in-law, the onesie; Nor does it have a more formal whiff than its fellow, “all-in-one.”
Since boiler suits were originally a basic rugged uniform for tradesmen in the 1920s, they usually came in a range of utilitarian fabrics – denim, cotton, and sometimes corduroy.
Short-sleeve brown denim, £118, free people.com; Adidas shoes, £80, schuh. co.uk Jumper (around the waist), £29.90, uniqlo.com
They are comfortable and easy to fit making them a friend to every woman, no matter their shape or size.
In short, one might be the hardest item to have in your wardrobe. First, there’s the ease: No need to think about pants and a fitted top.
Then, of course, there are the layering possibilities. You can make a thick jumper over the boiler suit, or a skinny piece of fabric underneath.
Anyday suit, £48, johnlewis. com; White Sandal, £23.80, Pretty Thing
organic denim, £165, jigsawonline.com; Suede mule, £159, penelope chilvers.com; jumper, £29.90, uniqlo.com
Pink Service Shortsleeve, £95, oliverbonas.com; Leather sandals, £159, Penelope chilvers.com
You can tie it with a cardigan to create an instant waist, or sling it over your shoulders for a relaxed French vibe. Boiler suits can be casual and low-key or sophisticated and sexy.
A boiler suit in pink like Oliver Bonas or yellow, like the Asos one, will serve you better than any Breton shirt—although both would look great with Breton navy layers underneath.
Leg shape is worth considering, because, like jeans, kettle suits come in a surprising variety of shapes.
Yellow twill, £55, Assos. com; Trainers, £80, schuh. co.uk
Dark blue flared denim, £240, 7 for All Humans. co.uk Cork sandal, £299, lkbennett.com
A relaxed denim-style leg that looks and feels very casual, especially when paired with sneakers.
It can be an extra wide leg in a soft chambray, like this John Lewis Anyday jumpsuit, flat sandal or high heels.
As for the high-waisted, slightly flared leg (above in 7 For All Mankind’s denim), it’s just as at home for a fancy meal as it is at home.
So this spring, do yourself a favor and invest in fashion’s greatest unsung hero — the kettle suit.