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novembro 06, 2009

A Brief History Of Jumpsuits



I suppose the Jumpsuit is now indelibly linked to Elvis! Perhaps the’ Aloha’ and ‘Mexican Sundial’ Jumpsuits are the most recognised by the general public. There is estimated to be over 100 jumpsuits and two piece suits used as stage costumes.

1969 -1970. In the beginning the Jumpsuits/Costumes were simple in design and as the years passed by the simple became the spectacular. In the early days there would be duplicates of the simple in design Jumpsuits, for example there were multiple Cossack tops and Two Piece suits of different colours a similar case for the “Chain" Jumpsuits and two of the "Concha", of course this became untenable when the more elaborate costumes started in 1971 due to the cost factor, However there was an exception for the "Aloha" Jumpsuits, two were made for the telecast and one more made for the 1974 tours.

1971 saw simple nail designs of the ‘Cisco Kid’ Jumpsuits make way to what would become the established design mainly due to the talents of Gene Doucette, Gene had taken over from Bill Belew in the design stakes and it was his flair that saw the Jumpsuit morph from plain and simple Jumpsuit to the specticles they became from late 1971 onwards.

1972 sees the Jumpsuit finally reach its splendid peak, the design seems to have settled on a recognisable format that Elvis seemed happy with. The patterns and themes changed after 1972 but the suits basic style would stay the same until 1976. There were of course variations with the puff sleeves in the 'Chicken Rib', 'Eskimo Totem Pole' and 'Egyptian Bird' designs of 1975 but the Jumpsuit essentially remained the same as the 1976 'Colouful Flame' Jumpsuit demonstrates.

1973 probably saw the most elaborate Jumpsuits in the form of stones and nails e.g. the 'Arabian First Edition' aka the 'Memphis' Suit, 'Black Spanish Flowers' and of course the 'Aloha Eagle'. It could be argued that 1973 saw the jumpsuit become a work of art rather than a stage outfit. The designs had taken on beautiful detail and with many Jumpsuits taken on a theme.

1974 Gene Doucette had changed styles and moved to embroidery designs very probably at Elvis' request due to the weight of previous Jumpsuits. There were subtle changes to the designs of 1974 for example the sleeves were free from patterns or design, again probably at Elvis's request due to stones or nails scratching guitars etc. The designs of 1974 are of two extremes.. The 'Chinese Dragon' and the 'Mad Tiger' are quite flashy, where as the three 'Phoenix' designs seem to be simpler and understated in comparison.

1975 - There is debate as to whether Elvis should have switched over to two piece suits by 1975. Looking at the frequency of new suits by 1975 only 8 new Jumpsuits and 7 'Two Piece Suit' designs as opposed to 1973 with a peak of 17 new Jumpsuits (not including the aloha duplicates) it could be argued that Elvis tried the two piece and decided he didn't like them! 1975 followed the same design pattern of 1974 in that the designs were embroidery with fine detail, the ‘Chief’ aka the ‘Indian Feather being a fine example.

1976 – This was a particularly uninspired year, there was only one new Jumpsuit made in the form of the ‘Colourful Flame’ although the Jumpsuit was extremely flashy in design it was only worn twice which leaves you wondering why two of this design were made? Most of 1976 saw Elvis wear the ‘Egyptian Birds’ aka ‘Bicentennial Jumpsuits’

1977 made 1976 look inspired, there was a suit designed for Elvis, however it wasn’t completed in time for Elvis to have worn it on stage. Elvis only switched between three Jumpsuits in 1977 namely the ‘Chief’ aka ‘Indian Feather’ from 1975, ‘Arabian second Edition’ aka ‘King of Spades’ from 1974 and of course the ‘Mexican Sundial’ also from 1974.

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