The Brief History of the Adult Onesie

The Brief History of the Adult Onesie

These words pair well with: Homemade Eggnog with Shelter Rum from Shelter Distilling

Babies, Winston Churchill, and awkward family photos. What do they all have in common? Onesies. You may have noticed them popping up everywhere, in every store, in every catalog. Everyone is throwing out their old boring pajamas and jumping on the onesie train. Now they are here at Grandstand, ready to be personalized with your brand. Class-up that Ugly Sweater party or let your fans rep your brand through the tranquility of REM sleep. The stylish one-piece isn’t just for babies; it is for really big babies too (we’re talking about you). And it’s just what your merch line wants this year. But first, to understand why onesies are so popular, you need to know where they came from.

We are about to lay some stone-cold onesie facts on you. Adult onesies have a rather complicated history and have been referenced by a multitude of names over the years such as the jumpsuit, romper suit, union suit, siren suit, and long johns. You’re probably thinking “onesies are for babies” and you’re not wrong. Those little humans do look cute in a one piece. However, adults have been rocking the onesie long before babies made it a statement. In fact, the origins of onesies can be traced to 1800 Utica, New York, and they were called union suits. The first union suit was invented for women as a practical alternative to the traditional Victorian undergarments.

By the mid-1800’s the ladies’ comfy little secret was out. Union suits became a thing for everyone and were used as sleepwear and undergarments during the cold winter months, thanks to the lack of space heaters during the civil war. The suits were traditionally made of red flannel and buttons and included an access hatch. This rear flap also has a long history of clever names such as the drop seat, fireman’s flap, crap flap, and the safe for work “bum flap” opposed to the crude alternative if you know what I mean. *Hint: It rhymes with mass flap.

Let’s fast forward: more history blah blah blah… war… presidents… prohibition (boo)...and that brings us to World War II, where onesies make a comeback, baby! A brilliant onesie revolution was led by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Winston Churchill donned what the Brits call a “siren suit”— a garment that would easily slide on in the event of an air raid for warmth and to protect modesty — i.e. a onesie (bum flap excluded). They were eventually adopted as a leisure suit thanks to Winston Churchill who loved a good one-piece in any style including military style, pinstripes and a green velvet one reserved for formal occasions. The iconic velvet siren suit is now on display at the Science Museum in London. Onesie road trip, anyone?


Morris (Sgt). (2013, March 27). Winston Churchill during the Second World War in the United Kingdom [The Prime Minister Winston Churchill, wearing his siren suit, poses with Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery on 19 May 1944 during a tour of forces preparing to invade Normandy.]. Retrieved November 26, 2018, from http://media.iwm.org.uk/iwm/mediaLib//21/media-21368/large.jpg
Winston Churchill in a siren suit.

Now that we are all caught up on where onesies came from, we can talk about where they are now at: Grandstand. Onesies are ready to be custom embroidered with your logo, name or anything else you can imagine. Comfy microfleece pajamas are available in a variety of solids and patterns to fit every brand and every personality. Dogs, cats, junk food, or a classic holiday green for a festive party. Have a “Wear a Onesie to Work” day or throw a holiday-themed party. These onesies have a hood for maximum coziness for drive-thru runs and deep pockets for all the snacks - crap flap not included. These unions suits are fantastic gifts for family members and make a playful addition to a not so traditional merch line. Give the gift of extreme comfort this holiday season, and wow with your new-found knowledge of onesie trivia.

Shout out to Wikipedia, The Huffington Post, the ScienceMuseum.org, and craft beer for which this article wouldn’t be possible.