Can we discuss the jumpsuit? I’m going to discuss the jumpsuit. For a very long time, and even now in contemporary stories, the jumpsuit has been the default future wear. I get it, it’s easy. There is a long, established, visual canon of anybody wearing a jumpsuit being from the future (just look at any sci-fi movie from the 80s).
It makes sense for certain professions, right? Most of the time a jumpsuit is a cover-all of some kind used to protect your clothing if you are, say, scraping the coal out of the chimney or painting the walls of an orphanage. If your characters are working int he bowels of an interstellar freighter, the jumpsuit (or more properly in that case “coverall”) is a good plan. It makes sense. As a universal, culture-wide clothing phenomenon, however, it misses the mark a bit.
I can see how the idea of a future society having moved away from trivialities like matching your purse and your shoes or making sure the blacks in your pants and your sweater vest to go together, is an attractive one. But, I suspect, the people who dress their future societies in jumpsuits have never actually worn one themselves.
Jumpsuits are, perhaps, one of the most inconvenient forms of clothing outside of the vinyl catsuit. Probably easier to wear for men than women, but the logistics of every day bodily functions almost guarantee your jumpsuit being dipped in something nasty before the end of the day. And don’t tell me that future bathrooms are cleaner than current bathrooms. People are messy. End of story.
Add to this the fact that one size fits all means that it never actually fits anybody. Leg length, arm length, torso length in your average everyday human is highly variable. There’s not much room for slack in a jumpsuit, it’s almost guaranteed that you will either have to roll up the pants or roll up the sleeves. Now, granted, in TV shows and movies you have a costuming department that custom-creates these suits for the actors who will be wearing them, so they always “look” fabulous onscreen, but that’s a very one-percent portrayal. Generally speaking your average person doesn’t have the funds or time to have their clothes tailored, so their jumpsuits are going to be ill-fitting and uncomfortable.
Jumpsuits are, in fact, one of my favorite examples of a lack of institutional memory. Every 10 years or so the fashion industry attempts to bring back the jumpsuit. It usually starts in the “Junior Miss” section of one of the major retailers. They look cute on the hanger, they often come in bright colors and a reasonably priced. But they sit there and get moved from the new item rack to the discount rack to the clearance rack in record time. I’m not sure why they keep trying to bring them back, as even in the jumpsuit heyday they seem to have been a low volume product. It feels like some Junior exec finally got promoted and said “Hey, I just saw Logan’s run! Jumpsuits are the future!”
Our collective fashion consciousness takes one look at the jumpsuit and says “NO”. Unless we are looking at a Dystopian future where humans are required by law to wear jumpsuits as part of their daily dress, I think the jumpsuit as a future forward fashion trend is a dead end.
And don’t even get me started on pockets.