By Philip Hoare
It started as a wartime utility garment before becoming a 70s glam/punk trend – and now the boilersuit is making a comeback
Any survivor of the 1970s will sigh at the 2019 reinvention of the boilersuit.
This is no mere fashion statement, they will tell you. It is a political-gender-retro act of resistance: beyond sex and utility, ultimately fluid, an emblem of classlessness and intent. From the siren suit of the second world war to today’s restyling, the overall effect is far more subversive than just dressing. After all, the whole point of this garment was that it was as easy to get off as it was to put on. Its shape blurred bodies, revealed and concealed – a code for what lay beneath. The boilersuit may be the queerest piece of clothing ever invented.