The Goods

Are Us Jumpsuits Terrifying or Spring Fashion Goals?

Tether me to this look, please.

Us horror movie characters in front of cameras on runway.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by tommasolizzul/iStock/Getty Images Plus and Universal Pictures.

In Us, the primary thing that visually distinguishes the Wilson family from the doppelgängers who invade their vacation home is how they are dressed: The doubles have the Wilsons’ same features, bodies, and limbs, but instead of pajamas, they’re all wearing matching red jumpsuits.

The doubles are terrifying, a zombie-like people intent on killing their counterparts, so naturally their outfits become imbued with a similar sense of menace. But try to separate the jumpsuits from their horror-movie context for just a minute: Aren’t they also … kind of cute? Don’t they make you at least a little curious to see if you can pull off that “the Tethered” look? Yes, the jumpsuits are meant to be scary. But they also might be … spring fashion goals?

On Twitter, many people have voiced curiosity about where the Tethered in the movie got the jumpsuits. Perhaps subconsciously because they want to get their own? Jordan Peele knew what he was doing with these jumpsuits. They have specific and astute resonances within the movie: As worn by, we find out later in the movie, a whole underclass of trapped people, the jumpsuits invite a sinister association with mass incarceration. In addition, they recall the famously be-jumpsuited villain of yore Michael Myers. But these one-pieces also correspond to trends in fashion. The jumpsuit has been ascendant in women’s fashion for the past five years or so: In 2017, Refinery29 declared that the fashion industry had become infatuated with an especially workmanlike version of jumpsuits, also known as boilersuits or mechanic’s coveralls, describing them as “[s]hapeless but economically cut … They erase your differences and swallow your sex appeal.” By the counterintuitive logic of fashion, the “jumpsuits’ lack of appeal was its most appealing quality.” In other words, they’re so anti-fashion that they became high fashion.

That’s why you can see similarly utilitarian jumpsuits all over the place these days: They’re on sale at American Apparel (though not in red) and worn by the salespeople at cooler-than-thou brand Glossier’s Manhattan store (in millennial pink, of course). Stylish men can do jumpsuits, too: This Monday at an Apple presentation, Apple designer and, it turns out, low-key hypebeast Wyatt Mitchell wore a white Dickies jumpsuit with Converses from a Virgil Abloh collaboration onstage.

Even the details of the Us jumpsuit are optimized for our current fashion moment. Us’ costume designer, Kym Barrett, told Fashionista that she “intentionally cropped the pants to ‘show the ankles, particularly, so that you’d really see the flesh and bone of these people.’ ” This is grim within the context of the movie, but on the outside, wider-legged, crop-length pants just so happen to be a silhouette that’s on the rise, if you can get the phrase “flesh and bone” out of your head.

Should you wear an Us-style jumpsuit this season, in red or any old color? As the movie shows, they work on a variety of shapes and sizes, from adults to children. They’re flattering on no one, which makes them flattering on everyone. It’s probably the closest you’ll ever come to wearing the same outfit as a fashion plate like Lupita Nyong’o. You might scare your friends, but you also might inspire a radical discussion about the American class system and Peele’s commentary on it—more than you can say for most outfits!