Point/Counterpoint: Welcome to the Romper Room

A romper is typically defined as a one-piece article of clothing, sometimes worn as a sort of overall situation. As a team, we have a variety of feelings about rompers, ranging from “excited” to “confused” to “over it” to “hungry.” In an effort to process these feelings as a group, we have identified the two people with the strongest feelings w/r/t rompers, and here they are for your consideration.

by Lindsey and Carmen

Lindsey:

I know I’m becoming a curmudgeon because I am annoyed by trivial things that don’t affect me in the least bit. The latest on the platter of things-I-shouldn’t-care-about-and-yet-I-do-for-some-unexplained-reason is rompers.

The internet tells me rompers have been trendy for decades starting as early as the 1900s. However, the real kicker about the 1904 romper is it was for children. Yes, rompers look like children’s play-clothes because they are short jumpsuits for toddlers. Grown-ass women should not be wearing fucking rompers.

My frustration with rompers stems from the recent increase in romper sightings. I see rompers almost daily. Tweens in rompers. Women in rompers. Toddlers in rompers.

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If I’m not seeing rompers in public, it’s rompers on TV or in magazines. Articles about choosing the right romper for your body type — it doesn’t matter what your body type is! The beauty of the romper is it looks bad on everyone. Articles about accessorizing with rompers because they are “inevitably versatile” and “easy to dress up or down depending on the occasion.” Heels will not hide the fact you are still wearing a burlap sack with the same floral pattern as my grandmother’s couch.

Rompers have made it to the club and bar scene which is distressing because no matter how attractive a woman is, I can’t approach a woman in a romper. What would we talk about? Oh your romper is nice. Does it have pockets? What do you do if you have to go to the bathroom? Do you do the lazy-one-piece-swimsuit-pull-the-crotch-to-the-side? Do you take it all the way off every time? Do you have a closet full of rompers? How did you choose which romper to wear tonight? The conversation goes nowhere. Except to my own personal romper-filled hell. I couldn’t possibly be suave because all I can think about is the fact she’s wearing a romper. There’s no way a woman could wear sexy underwear with a romper. The going-out panties have to stay home in exchange for the laundry-day granny panties. How do you remove a romper in an enticing way? I’ll just undo the built-in romper-patterned belt that was previously accentuating your hips so now it really looks like a trash bag. No.

Rompers should be treated like muumuus: if you would like to wear a romper as sleepwear, you should be welcome to do so within the privacy of your own home. As long as you live alone, with more than one cat, or you have entered the period of your relationship known as lesbian bed death. Lesbian bed death is no laughing matter, but at least the romper can’t make that situation any worse than it already is.

Carmen:

If there is one thing, one mark I really leave on the world, well – sometimes I think it’d be okay if it was just rompers. Rompers, or vintage men’s eyewear. But it will probably be rompers.

My first romper came into my life the summer I was 19. The summer I learned how to strut, how to roll a joint, and how to cook. My first summer living on my own away from home, in a big house with the most amazing characters. The romper had boat wheels all over it, and I liked it because it had a big blue belt in the middle.

The second, third, and fourth came after: a blue nautical collared romper from Urban Outfitters, which looked kind of like a one-piece women’s take on a Navy uniform and which I wore with my pillbox hat from Etsy; a strapless dark blue romper with a heart-shaped bust and a broken zipper that I wore when I turned 21 and got for 7 dollars; a purple deep-v romper my friend lifted from American Apparel and gave to me as a gift.

nautical romper

My rompers are a part of my life. I can do everything in a romper, and I already have: I turned 21 in a romper, I’ve gone to work in rompers, I once woke up hungover in a romper in my girlfriend’s bed, I wore them to parties, I still wear them to bars and I typically insist on traveling in them. I did not come out in a romper, but I wanted to; that night, we were going to a Halloween party and I let Rebecca wear one that I bought on ebay but didn’t actually fit me. Once I begged Rebecca to let me dress her and threw her my first romper, big eyes full of tears and mind somewhere very far from reality. “This is very special but I want you to wear this tonight.” I tied it with some rope that just sort of had turned up at that moment, and for the rest of the night my friends and I let her guide us to parties and people we wanted to see. We sort of turned it into a game, you know? “Follow the romper.” We were very much not sober, but that didn’t make her romper any less perfect for gallivanting around.

Rompers are versatile, and they cinch at the waist but manage to be the most uninhibiting and freeing pieces of clothing I own. Seriously: running after Eli when he gets off of his leash, walking to the pizza parlor, waiting for my food at Fish In The Hood, and buying liquor are all equally made efficient by wearing one. If you have an hourglass shape, a romper can be the sexiest thing in your closet – and getting out of it takes a matter of seconds, which is good since someone is probably going to want to take you out of it very badly. A fact and a true story: although women rarely hit on me when I wear dresses in this god damn city, I have been pursued and re-pursued by not one, not two, but many women while wearing a romper. I’m telling you: rompers are the way and the light.

Whether you’re going to the pool, on a picnic, or heading out on the longest trip ever in your life with one Diane von Furstenberg suitcase in your right hand, the quick and easy answer to the ever-palatable “what should I wear?” is going to be “a romper.” You can make it look like an entirely new outfit in approximately five seconds, based mostly on whether or not you wear a belt and how many denim shirts you own in different colors. It will look good on you no matter what shoes and no matter what the weather. And nobody’s gonna notice you’re wearing one once you’re drunk, anyway.

Carmen is the Managing Digital Editor at Ms. , host of Bitch Media's POPAGANDA podcast and co-founder and Contributing Editor at Argot magazine. She previously served as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director at Autostraddle. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 927 articles for us.

35 Comments

  1. I love this article: LOVE IT. I can’t decide how I feel about rompers but I have a feeling that I can figure it out one of two ways: 1. wearing one or 2. hooking up with someone who is wearing one. I figure I’ll either like/abhor putting them on or like/abhor taking them off.

  2. Not too many years ago I hated rompers, or as I (some ironic descriptor) call them: onesies. I have one friend out of many who actually looks good wearing one. Then I found one for ten bucks and I didn’t have many clothes, so I went for it.

    I, personally, don’t wear nice rompers. You won’t find flowers or an attempt at making my body look attractive. I wear it out of laziness. I don’t want to wear pants? Onesie. Hot as fuck outside and want to be as close to naked as possible? Onesie. My bra hangs out and I look trashy but I don’t care, cuz it’s 90 degrees 24/7.

    Respectfully yours,
    understanding southerner

    • Ok, so I am rather firmly on Lindsey’s side in this, but your comment about it being really close to naked when it’s hot as fuck outside makes me think of the past week of 100+ degree weather and the humidity. And suddenly, I realize that I would, in fact, wear the fuck out of a romper in this heat.

      This southerner is convinced.

  3. Rompers are toddler wear. But, I mean, my ex used to wear them, so yes, I have slept with girls (well, girl) who wear rompers.

    IT’S JUST WEIRD IT’S SO WEIRD I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO DO. Should I admire the guts it takes to wear a romper, or should I point out that said person is wearing a garment designed for a two year old? I don’t understand.

  4. When I first came across rompers, I hated them. Though this was mainly because I thought the garment was a shirt and was extraordinarily confused and upset when I attempted to try it on.
    I find them a little silly and immature, but if the girl is cute in it… well, it can always come off ;)

  5. I looooovvvvee rompers!!! I own 5 and I typically like to wear them instead of a t-shirt&shorts because it just looks a little bit nicer, and I don’t enjoy wearing dresses to casual events. They are perfect for picnics and concerts and day-drinking. And for the record, it is entirely possible to wear sexy underwear with rompers.

  6. I didn’t even know those garments are called ‘Rompers”!!
    Gawd it’s either I haven’t read the latest fashion mag (too busy with AS and my gf, and work, see? work comes last!haha) or because in this side of the world, we call it “jumpers” LOL ^__^

  7. I have mixed emotions about rompers, playsuits. I think the concept is nice. They can look cute if you are standing perfectly still and going for a retro thing. But I have to go with “hungry”. Not sure if you meant it the same way I do. I don’t even have a long torso but it seems like they are always too short. So once I start moving around, you know, breathing or walking they ride up in a major way. am I the only one who has this problem?

  8. I typically hate rompers but this quote “Heels will not hide the fact you are still wearing a burlap sack with the same floral pattern as my grandmother’s couch” made me want to wear one a little bit.
    #grandmachic

  9. Rompers: what I wear to my job at a bar when I need to wear as little clothing as possible (read: a dress) cause it’s hot but have to bend over and need something to cover my butt. Also, pockets. So handy.

  10. Once I went to a family reunion in a fake-denim playsuit (romper) and my seven-year-old half Japanese second cousin was wearing the same playsuit, albeit smaller and with pink embroidery. The day before we had played hide and seek and come to the conclusion that we were the coolest people IN THE WORLD. I love love love my cousin and therefore I will always always love that playsuit. THE END.

  11. I literally just bought one. I thought it was a dress, to only discover that it was in fact a romper when already in the dressing room. I tried it on anyway, and I haven’t taken it off since. BEST THING EVER in horrid heat and it solves my pet peeves with dresses: Never flashing anyone again when sitting in the park or when riding a bike.

  12. “Do you do the lazy-one-piece-swimsuit-pull-the-crotch-to-the-side? Do you take it all the way off every time?”

    Ha! I think I left a similar comment the last time Autostraddle had something about rompers. They always make me think of adult babies, which is the only other group I can think of who wears clothing specifically designed for the four-and-under set.

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