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History of the Onesie

History of the Onesie

Here at KidsOnesies, we stock some of the best onesies around: with exciting and adorable designs to spark the imaginations of kids and adults alike. Our ideas may be fresh and fun, but the onesie itself has a long and prestigious history that might surprise you! So get comfy in your fleecy flamingo onesie and relax as we recount the storied legacy of the onesie.

The modern onesie began its life as four, distinct products from long ago:

1868: The Union Suit

In 1868, a patent was filed for an “emancipation union under flannel” – later known as the union suit. This one-piece undergarment has a strikingly similar design to the onesie of today – but was typically made of flannel. The union suit was originally designed for women,  to replace the uncomfortable undergarments of the past, but by the 20th century had become popular with both sexes across the globe. One distinct feature of the union suit was a flap at the rear, held in place by a button. This became colloquially known as a “fireman’s flap”, an “access hatch” and some other more unsavoury names. Your grand parent’s grandparents might have known these as “combinations” in the UK – and some were even made of wool for a comfortable fit we know today!

WW2: Siren Suit

After the Siren Suit fell out of style for its association with rural America, it’s practical design lead to a resurgence in the war. Similar to the boilersuits you may see industry workers in both back then and today – the Siren Suit was popularised almost solely by Winston Churchill as a comfortable and easily-worn piece of clothing. He often wore one of his many Siren Suits when meeting world leaders, and the style caught on in the UK for its practicality. Easily-made from cheap materials, the Siren Suit was ideal for air-raid shelters. When the “siren” began to blare (hence the nomenclature) many found it far easier to put on their warm, comfortable Siren Suits in a rush than the professional clothing typically worn at the time.

This precursor to the onesie often came with a zipper, large pockets and was made out of any material easily available at the time. Children’s Siren Suits are clear predecessors to the onesie, prioritising comfort with thick 4-ply wool and even a hood! After the war, the Siren Suit became a popular piece of iconography, being worn by Churchill for some portraits in the ’50s.

Modern Day: JumpinJammerz, Kigurumi & Us

The modern onesie craze began as early as 1998 when JumpinJammerz launched their line of one-piece line of loungewear, popularised by Steve Pandi and his band as their outfit of choice. These onesies were simple and minimal. Their popularity began to wane, until in 2009 when Kigurumi (which translates to “Cosplay Pyjamas”) became massively popular in Japan, and soon exported around the globe. These can easily be recognised as the modern onesie as we know it, with fleece designs and animal/cartoon caricatures in the print and the hood.

Of course, no onesie before nor after could ever compare to our excellent selection of adult & kids onesies, available across the UK with high-quality supersoft fleece fabric and gorgeous designs to get kids imaginations whirring and parent’s comfortable! To participate in onesie history today and check out our range of affordable kids onesies HERE.

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