History of the Trend: Rompers

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Emily of Cupcakes and Cashmere in a Madewell Jumpsuit

What hasn’t been said about the romper? From our own CF posts (Would You Wear… a Romper? and 5 Ways to Wear a Romper), to countless mentions in fashion blogs and magazines, the romper is one trend we can’t seem to get enough of.

The origins of the romper, however, may be less well-known. Below, I’ll explain the history behind this hot summer item.

History of the Romper

Tieka of Selective Potential in a floral romper

Here are some facts about the history of rompers:

  • Rompers began as children’s clothing, which explains their similarity to overalls, jumpers, and (as some are quick to point out) onesies. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather wear a romper!
  • The earliest advertisement I found for rompers was in this issue of the New York Times from 1904. The ad called rompers “pinaforelike garments” with the skirt portion gathered into shorts for comfort. Easy to play in and often made of cotton or other washable material, rompers were the go-to play clothes of the 20th century.
  • Rompers continued to be popular into the ’20s, as much for stylish young women as for children. With its one-piece design, the romper was a chic alternative to a blouse and full skirt and could be dressed up or down, depending on the fabric.
  • In the ’70s, the romper’s leggy cousin, the jumpsuit, was a wardrobe staple for anyone with disco on the brain. Since then, jumpsuits have gone in and out of fashion, recently being revived as part of spring 2011’s 1970s trend.
  • These days, the romper is back in a big way, with designers featuring rompers on the runway and retailers experimenting with patterns, tailored and relaxed silhouettes, and eye-catching details. It’s likely you have one in your own closet right now.

Why We Still Love This Trend

Here are a few reasons why we’re still loving the romper trend today:

  • It’s versatile. Just as easy to wear to the beach as it is to wear to a dinner out, the romper is like a great dress with a playful and comfy feel. You’ll be sure to find one that fits every event by using the same guidelines you already use to pick out your outfits. Stick with flowy fabrics for day, then amp it up with more structured looks for night.
  • There’s something for everyone. Still not sure you can pull off a romper? Check out this article on finding a romper for your body type. It’s a great starting point to see what you should be looking for, and you can still put your own twist on it with great accessories!
  • It’s fun! While it may take a little courage to wear a romper, you can’t deny the individual twist it gives a look. Try it out and discover why this trend has been hot for so long!

Tell us what you think!

Have you given the romper trend a try? Should it stick around or head to the back of the closet? Any trends you’d like to know the history of? Leave a comment and let us know!

15 thoughts on “History of the Trend: Rompers”

  1. Took me awhile to figure out Romper= Playsuit 🙂
    But I definitely want to try this trend out 🙂
    Thanks for the link 🙂

  2. Deja & Birttany- Glad to hear you’re embracing this trend! Also Brittany, thanks for the advice on other styles!
    Adriana- As a petite gal myself, I can promise that there ARE rompers for you out there! The key is to find one with a smaller print that won’t overpower you, as well as looking for silhouettes that aren’t too baggy-extra fabric can be problematic with us smaller types. Good luck!

  3. I’m barely 5 feet tall and have convinced myself that i just can’t pull off a romper, but they’re adorable and i want one!! i checked out the link to rompers by body type, but still not sure. any advice on rompers for petites?? also, i noticed something about being difficult to take off (especially for going to the bathroom); hadn’t occurred to me before. is this really a problem??

  4. I really like rompers. I couldn’t tell you why; they seem like something I *should* hate, but I’ve always been really intrigued by them. When they first came out I thought there was no way I’d ever find one that flattered my body since I’m self-conscious of my torso, but now there are SO many different styles available that I think you can find one for just about any body type.

    I actually own 5 of them, which I think is way too much- normally I stop myself from buying multiples of trendy items. But mine are all very different, and some of them can be worn in the winter with tights.

    Some rompers are actually pretty easy to go to the bathroom in. The ones that button up the front are obviously not, but I have one that zips down the back and another that fits kind of like a loosely draped wrap top, and those are easy. I’m literally wearing the drapey one right now and all I have to do is undo the hidden snap in the front and let the top fall off my shoulders, then pull the shorts down like any pair of pants.

  5. Funny you should post this. In fact, in June while I was in New York, I bought 3 rompers lol. They’re really cute and can sometimes be used as tops for skirts.

  6. Rompers definitely look fun for a casual outing and there are so many reasonably priced styles available that it doesn’t cost much to give them a try! (A little more history… back in the 70’s some of them had snap crotches. Anyone want to deal with that?) Too “cute” for dress-up, in my opinion, but great for a summer BBQ or a day at the theme park!

  7. I’ve never actually worn a romper but i think they’re super cute! i mean that is an issue that you have to completly undress to go to the bathroom, but never the less, adorable. I loved this post, i never really knew the history of rompers but now that i do, i sooo want one!!!

  8. cool article, though i’m not personally a fan of rompers for the very reason of the answer to kelly’s question in the first post. the fact that i have to basically totally undress every time i need to go to the bathroom, in my opinion, makes them too much of a pain for me. but to each his/her own!

  9. Great Article! I’m looking forward to reading more about the history of trends. I’ve often wondered how and why certain looks come back. Knowing a bit more of the history behind all of the hype makes me want to go out and buy a romper and try it out!

  10. Love this! I’ve been thinking for ages that rompers reminded me of the overalls I wore religiously as a child, and now here’s the history!
    Maybe you could do patterned tights or something next?

  11. I’m very picky about this trend… if the pattern or cut of a romper isn’t right, I think they can end up looking very unflattering and childish. That said, I do own one myself and it makes for a cute, easy outfit! The whole completely-undressing-to-use-the-bathroom thing is really annoying though, which is why I probably won’t ever make rompers a huge part of my closet.
    Great post! 🙂

  12. Kelly- A question we’d all love to know the answer to. Unfortunately, that seems to be the only way!
    Sara- Keep trying! If it’s a trend you’d really like to try, you can get a romper-esque effect by pairing a solid-colored top with patterned shorts in a longer cut. Modcloth has some great options!
    Danielle- I know there are some trends that are more difficult to pull off, but if you decide to try it out, best of luck!
    Lettie- Took me a while to figure that out too, but it’s a cute name, don’t you think? 🙂

  13. i think it’s a really cute trend, but it definitely isn’t for everybody. i don’t think my body shape is right for it, but i have seen a lot of people wear them really well.


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