Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!
The Ghostbusters, Michael Myers (Nick Castle), Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) and Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) all share a fondness for this particular form of practical attire. Whether it is a work uniform, an outfit of incarceration or simply taken from an unsuspecting victim, these characters all have this one-piece garment in common. In Jordan Peele's hit horror movie, Us, the Tethered join these iconic characters in making this sartorial statement.
Spoilers for Us ahead.
The boiler suit has a variety of names — depending on design tweaks and/or circumstance — including coveralls, siren suit, flight suit, romper, and jumpsuit. Its origin lies in workwear and the military; it was first worn to protect clothing, ranging from mechanics to railroad workers. In WWII, Rosie the Riveter announced “We Can Do It” in a blue boiler suit and the many women who entered the workforce wore something similar. The military association is anchored in the flight suit, as seen most recently in Captain Marvel.
Red is used sparingly prior to the arrival of the doppelgängers, which adds to the impact of this ensemble. Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) wears predominantly white with a bold yellow bikini top peeking out, while Gade’s costuming is predominantly blue, white and grey, and Zora’s (Shahadi Wright Joseph) hoodies are in green and yellow. It is only Jason (Evan Alex) with his sunset shorts and Jaws logo on his T-shirt that gets in on the crimson clothing action. Could this color link be related to a Jason/Pluto theory that is doing the rounds? Of course, Adelaide's white ensemble is quickly stained with blood, so much so that by the end of the film it is beyond salvaging.
The thread of red weaving from sea to shining sea is broken up they those who have acquired garments from those they likely killed. The Tethered have worn their own attire for years below the ground, so it is not surprising that some are drawn to the now discarded garments. The materialistic Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh (Tim Heidecker) are dispatched with precision by their doubles, and Tex (Tim Heidecker) puts on Josh’s robe, which is even more unnerving than the boiler suit by itself. At first Adelaide and her family think they have reached a safe compound when they flee to their friends' fancy home until the red underneath Tex's new robe becomes all too visible. The brown sandals are a giveaway too.
Resembling “sensible” looking Tevas and Birkenstocks (but uglier) these sandals were custom-made for Us. I know they are objectively hideous, but there is something about them that makes me want to add a pair to my summer shoe rotation. We can debate the merits of unattractive sandals, but one item that is definitely on trend in 2019 is the Tethered's signature red one-piece.
Spring/summer runway presentions last fall featured an array of boiler suits, once again bringing them back to the fashion forefront. Brands such as Hermès, Jil Sander, Armani, and Giambattista Valli all featured variations in a number of colors — including red. As with most trends, this has trickled down to the more affordable Madewell, Topshop, Otherwild, and H&M. The year of the boiler suit is here, which, if you are after something a little looser and leisurely over its tighter jumpsuit relative, then you are very much in luck. You don't have to wait until Halloween to try out this particular outfit, but maybe leave the glove at home.