2. Winston Churchill invented the romper suit (or ‘onesie’) and even wore one to welcome the President
Sir Winston Churchill was many things: soldier, writer, leader, historians. But a fashion icon? Believe it or not, he really was. Indeed, his most famous fashion design remains popular to this day. Sure, he might have been rotund and, on occasion, uncouth, but Churchill was also a savvy politician. He understood the importance of looking the part and worked with his own expensive tailors to create a wardrobe of outfits for every occasion. But it’s one outfit in particular, his so-called ‘siren suit’, that was to have the biggest impact on fashion.
For some time, Churchill lived – stylistically at least – in the shadow of Sir Anthony Eden. Eden was widely regarded as the best-dressed man in Westminster, famed for his finely-tailored suits. But when Churchill took over as Prime Minister when Britain went to war, ‘Winnie’ came into his own. He was regularly pictured in his tailored, three-piece suits, complete with bowler hat and cigar. As the war progressed, however, the nation’s leader was also increasingly photographed wearing an all-in-one suit, an outfit he had designed himself.
The legend has it that Churchill was inspired to become a fashion designer after observing some men working on his ancestral home. Admiring their heavy boiler suits, he immediately contacted his tailors and asked that they make him a similar garment but from suit fabric. When it arrived, he was so impressed, he ordered more of the same, this time in a variety of materials, including pinstriped cloth and even green velvet. In theory, these were ‘siren suits’, perfect for dressing quickly when the air raid siren sounded. However, Churchill started wearing them at other times. He even wore his romper suits to attend meetings with President Roosevelt and General Eisenhower.
During the war, people across Britain either bought or made romper suits of their own. They became incredibly common, both in air raid shelters and in the streets. These days, of course, all-in-one body suits, as well as comfy onesies, remain popular right around the world, proof that such clothes are not just for babies.