Boilersuits Are the Simple Solution to the Constant Problem of What to Wear to Work

Photo: Doen

For those of us who don't identify as “morning people,” the daily task of staring into the infinite abyss of our closets looking for something with which to clothe our bodies while our not-yet-fully-caffeinated brains are only about 20 percent operational can be exceptionally trying. Personally, at 7:30 AM, I couldn't care less what I'm wearing, but by the time the more human hour of, say, 11:00 AM rolls around, I often find myself looking down at my body, as if for the first time ever, and thinking, “WTF?” The summertime solution to this problem is, of course, the sundress, but what's a tired working girl to do come cooler weather? The answer is the boilersuit.

“All great women have worn boilersuits at one point in their lives—whether its Lara Croft or Stella McCartney,” says stylist Hikmat Mohammed. If boiler suits were a person, they would be Tilda Swinton: strong, sphinx-like and suited. A boiler suit is for the versatile woman; Raf Simons did it at Christian Dior, so did Chloè, Sonia Rykiel, and Balmain.”

Boilersuits, like all the best clothes, have roots as humble work garb. Historically, they've been worn by soldiers, police, street cleaners, gardeners, painters, engineers, and mechanics. Chic, no? Winston Churchill and Pete Townshend of The Who were also fans. Do with that information what you will.

Photo: Horses Atelier

Just a few years ago, it was difficult to find a good boilersuit for women unless you were willing to go the authentic Dickie's route, which unfortunately, for most of us, means a less-than-flattering fit. And, remember, the idea here isn't to look like an old-timey street cleaner, but like you drew inspiration from one. Luckily, the fashion world has climbed aboard the boilersuit train (which is no doubt operated by a guy in a boilersuit), with brands like DKNY, Stella McCartney, and Dior designing high-end versions worn by the likes of Bella Hadid, Liv Tyler, Dree Hemingway, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Also, Vogue has pennedtwo articles about boilersuits in the past year, and far be it for me to argue with Vogue (unless it's about newsboy caps, in which case, argue I will).

Right now, at this very moment, you can cop a bubblegum pink boilersuit from ASOS (not to mention its printed cousin), a sexy denim boilersuit from DL1961 (or this similar style from Lucky Brand), a classic silk version from Doen, or an army-inspired one from Gap. And all of these options are under $300! Not bad for a garment that has the potential to prevent you from showing up to work in an outfit that resembles the aftermath of a minor existential crisis.

Photo: Splash News

Aside from its obvious appeal to our lazy side, the boilersuit is an unsung wardrobe hero due to its shapeshifting abilities. If your office is casual, you can team it with low-top sneakers or flats; if it's a more professional vibe, you can probably get away with it underneath a blazer and paired with heels. “For the office, big men’s watches mixed with women’s watches all on one arm, think María Félix in Cartier because time is money,” suggests Mohammed.

I recently wore mine to work with Vans, then changed into red platforms, glittery socks, and silver statement earrings for a night out. I look forward to juxtaposing it against a faux fur coat come winter or perhaps shoving a turtleneck underneath a la Kate Moss, who was, as usual, way ahead of the curve on this thing. Basically, there's no end to the sartorial lethargy a boilersuit can validate because no matter what, it looks pulled together. Perhaps because, with its zippers and snaps and drawstrings, it literally is.