The Unitard Is Officially A Thing Again?
It happened to logo bags, it happened to scarf tops, and now it’s happening to unitards. Yes, the unofficial uniform of Jane Fonda workout tapes is the latest retro item to enjoy a modern renaissance.
While designers like Marine Serre have considered full-coverage bodysuits an essential for years, unitards recently trickled back into the broader consciousness via activewear brands. Online, there are as many unitard options as there are women to shop them: Girlfriend Collective, Alo Yoga, Universal Standard, and Outdoor Voices are just a sprinkling of the direct-to-consumer brands with unitards on offer. For the sustainability-minded shopper, Pangaia included a jumpsuit made from seaweed, eucalyptus, and bio-based nylon in its inaugural activewear collection this year.
According to design teams who spoke with BAZAAR.com, new unitards came from a noticeable hole in their athleisure lineups. Joy Byrd, founder and designer at Beach Hours, and Sue Williamson, Director of Brand and Integrated Marketing at Girlfriend Collective, both say they (and their teams) were looking for a one-and-done outfit with the same soft feel as sweats. The less effort in assembling the look, the better.
“Our joke at the office was, ‘Why put on a bra and leggings when you can just wear one thing?’” Williamson says.
Early unitard adopters know they’re practical. As a rep for Alo Yoga tells us, there’s no need to adjust your top or bottoms when your apparel is in one piece—making jumpsuits popular in yoga and pilates classes. Beach Hours’ version are made with fabrics for high-impact workouts, “so women can love that they feel more secure and know that nothing is hanging out,” Byrd says.
The unitard’s return may have started with sun salutations, but women are finding they’re comfortable for so much more than exercise. Dria Murphy, wellness curator and founder of Avant Collective, calls unitards the perfect day-to-night piece.
Her jumpsuit journey started with a Live the Process unitard; lately, she’s wearing one from Nylora. “I am always running around and find that throwing on a jumpsuit gives me the flexibility during the day to always get some movement in,” she says.
Girlfriend Collective’s Williamson says so many shoppers have worn their unitards under a white button-down, the brand added the styling note to its website. On Instagram, stylist Allison Bornstein called a Nylora jumpsuit her “secret weapon.” She’s layered her unitard with a sweater, blazer, and riding boots for a preppy daytime look, switching to pairing it with a bomber jacket and sunglasses post-workout.
For Bornstein, the unitard’s layering potential elevates it above standard loungewear—and not a minute too soon. “I think it is the perfect moment for them,” she tells BAZAAR.com. “We have all worn so many leggings during Covid and this feels like a step up. Also, what is easier than just throwing on one piece and being done?”
Even getting dressed again in an all-caps, going-out sense can include a unitard, Byrd adds: “Depending on the color of the jumpsuit, and style, I’ve also paired them with heels and worn them out on the town,” she says.
That day-to-night appeal is making its way all the way back to luxury. Under the glow of the Eiffel Tower at Paris Fashion Week, Saint Laurent sent party-girl unitards with one-shoulder tops and midriff cut-outs down its spring 2022 catwalk.
It doesn’t get more ‘all-in-one’ than a garment that can go from running errands to the runway…and all the way back again.
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