Róisín Ingle on . . . the cult of the onesie


After coveting one for the past year, my niece was finally gifted a onesie. Until I saw her togged out I hadn’t really been touched by this modern clothing fetish. The cult had passed me by the same way it took me ages to notice Gangnam Style and that confusing Robin Thicke video and the, I think the word is “awesome”, Cup Song.

I remember telling my two teenage nieces about the Cup Song and them sighing because I was so way out of the loop. “I suppose you think I’m, er, lame,” I said trying to redeem myself by using the word lame. “Nobody says lame anymore, it’s so lame,” they sighed and I scurried off puzzled by their use of a word they claimed was no longer fashionable (probably their shared aim now I come to think of it) and resigned to always being behind the curve.

My niece’s onesie has penguins on it and as far as I can see she never takes the thing off. Her mother claims she only wears it inside but really how does she know? Maybe she puts it in her schoolbag and throws it on over her tracksuit when she’s far enough away from home. I’d think it was worrying, her dedication to this surprising item of clothing if she didn’t look so, well, cosy. Also she is 10 years old and can still get away with walking around in what is essentially a babygro.

From the extensive research I’ve carried out it seems the cosiness factor has overridden the embarrassment of adults being seen wearing romper suits to bed. It’s like those Ugg boot things. People used to be embarrassed by how unflattering they were and would only pad about in them in their houses for comfort purposes. Then celebrities started to be seen in theirs and everyone got the idea that it was okay to wear boot slippers as shoes.

My young friend in London, who tries to keep me abreast of such matters, says onesies are totally mainstream now. “One in four people in the UK wear them – Boris Johnson has one and my boyfriend just got a man one in a sports shop because he was jealous of mine.”

This friend has been wearing onesies for years. Her mother prides herself on being ahead of the curve. She always dressed her kids in what she calls “furryjobs” and couldn’t believe when the department stores started filling up with them. She’s got two herself now. She loves them almost as much as her jeggings.

I had to buy a “festive onesie” the other day for work purposes. In Penneys, half the store seemed to be taken over by them but the “festive” ones were in short supply having been snapped up early by the onesie community. I could only find a Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer one complete with tail and antlers when what I was really after was a subtle snowflake look. Then I tried to get onesies for my four-year-olds because they’d heard about their cousin’s onesie. (Child 1: “Mum, I really need a onesie. Child 2: No, I need a onesie. Both Children In Plaintive Chorus: Mum, what’s a onesie?) But they were all gone. No recession there.

Onesie manufacturers have taken things too far of course. Torn the arse out of the onesie frenzy. There is now a twinsie – a onesie which fits two people and is a big hit with the deeply insecure and possessive amongst us.

Then there is an M&S pure cashmere hooded knitted onesie, or as I like to call it the Bailout Exit Onesie. The manufacturer claims it is “the perfect solution after a long day!”. Solution to what though? What problem is so terrible that the answer is a cashmere all-in-one sleep suit costing nearly €200? There would have to be icicles forming on my nostrils for me to be persuaded into a onesie, cashmere or otherwise. As another friend said, it’s hard enough to leave the house as it is. Legend has it that onesies are so debilitating in their comfort levels that we’d risk never leaving the house again.

At least I know that no matter how out of the loop I am there’ll always be people even more out of it than I am. My boyfriend, for one example, was trying to take a photo on his phone the other day but had switched on the button that allows the user to take photos of themselves. “Oh no,” he said waving it about as though that would fix the problem. “I wanted to take a normal photo, not a onesie.”

Blessed are the hopelessly out of step. We shall sleep easy in our lame pyjamas.


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