Sometimes the world will tell you, quite improbably, that a style of clothing is beautiful and desirable, and three years later, out of nowhere, you’ll start to agree (I’m looking at you, high-waisted jeans). Sometimes a fashion trend is so bonkers you have to admire the persistence of its champions (slow clap for the team who brought us toeless boots). But sometimes — sometimes — a fashion trend is clearly just a cruel joke on humanity. Folks, I’m talking about the adult romper.
The romper: garment of choice for the most discerning of toddlers. A top and a bottom, joined in the middle with a nice elastic waistband. Do I sound unconvinced? You can trace that pain right back to the rompers I wore as a child, specifically the navy-blue puffy-sleeved sweat-suit romper I wore to gym class at my grandmother’s insistence. Oh, sure, everyone warned my teenage self not to wear a romper to the prom, but I did, okay? I can still see the look on my prom date’s face when I revealed myself, resplendent in head-to-toe belted viscose. It was haunting.
I’d dearly like to think the romper resurgence is nothing more than a flash in the pan, but after several years in stores, they only appear to be multiplying, circling my life like a swarm of fabric demons beckoning me to join their shapeless cult. And to my surprise, lately I’ve found myself coming to accept them (somewhat) on other people. People in catalogues. People who are mostly made of legs, but still, people. I have friends who can pull off a romper. They wear it effortlessly and accessorize it perfectly, like all those ladies from the ’70s who hosted parties in billowy silk caftans. So recently, on a whim, in an isolated change room in a very trendy store, I thought, “Why not me?” And I tried one on.
First, let me describe the romper that I chose. It was a shorts model with a tie waist and a V-neck. The best a romper could be, for sheer simplicity and comfort. It felt pretty good. I wondered what shoes I’d pair with it. High heels? Toeless boots? Or, in a nod to my ’70s childhood, knee-high sweat socks and a sweet pair of lace-up Buster Browns? Then I checked myself out in a three-way mirror and, well, friends, that romper did not disappoint . . . comedically.
My grandmother used to warn me that when you got to a certain age, there were things that you shouldn’t try to pull off anymore. I always thought that was an old-fashioned sentiment. Then I saw myself romping in a romper.
Have you ever gone to a hotel and they gave you a disposable bathing suit and then you wore it swimming and it filled up with water and you thought you might die of shame right there in the pool? That was me in a romper. I looked like Baby Jane Hudson, only somehow more tragic. On the plus side, there was ample room for a diaper in the back.
So, fashion gods, do your worst, but I am not a romper person, and I will never romp again. I am the person who quickly took off the garment in case the store caught on fire and the firefighters had no choice but to carry me to the safety of the street, kicking and screaming in a onesie.
To all the romper lovers out there, you go! I wholeheartedly support your right to wear whatever you want — and I’ll do it from over here in my rock-solid separates.
More columns by Samantha Bee:
Samantha Bee tried it: taking a flying leap
Samantha Bee tried it: a joyful closet purge
Samantha Bee tried it: learning how to say no
Samantha Bee tried it: the new mom jeans
Samantha Bee is a comedian, author, mom and esteemed alumnus of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Also, she’s Canadian.