At $275, the Climbing Jumpsuit from Westerlind NYC is an easy upgrade from the typical vintage jumpsuit, however it does lack a few key features. I dyed mine with indigo for a custom look.
Around 2017, I became interested in the jumpsuit. Yes, it was trending at the time, but also convenient and comfortable. A single garment that covers your top and bottom with no waistband is simply easy to wear.
I bought enough to call myself a jumpsuit collector: including a NASA jumpsuit, pilot jumpsuit, three skiing jumpsuits and three vintage military mechanic jumpsuits.
However, my favorite jumpsuit is not vintage. It’s the Westerlind Climbing Jumpsuit, a modern adaptation of the classic style. The design was inspired by 20th century rock climbing gear.
In this product review, I’ll help you understand the features by grading everything on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being far below expectations, 3 being average, and 5 being excellent.
Fabric at the time of purchase was a medium weight ripstop cotton, blending strength with breathability. Compared to coveralls by Dickies or the average military jumpsuit, the fabric feels lighter, more malleable, and more comfortable.
One issue with vintage jumpsuits is they run hot, because they’re designed for durability. (This makes sense; real vintage jumpsuits were made for work, not for sitting at home during quarantine writing jumpsuit reviews)
While the fabric of the Westerlind is an upgrade for everyday wear, I would prefer an even softer and more flexible fabric. With ripstop cotton designed for climbing, it still has a crunchy, utilitarian feel that I think could be improved.
Size and Fit: 4.5/5
Jumpsuits are traditionally designed with a loose fit because they were worn over everyday clothing. In the 1950s, average Joe would arrive at the B-52 factory at 7 a.m. He would dress in Dickies coveralls, placing them over his jeans and long-sleeve shirt. And while working to weld or grind metal, his trusty jumpsuit would keep him alive and not on-fire.
Today, if you’re trying to wear a jumpsuit for style or convenience, and you’re not into the baggy look, then you’re usually shit-out-of-luck.
Westerlind, fortunately, adds some much-needed tailoring – with narrower shoulders, trim sleeve width and reasonable length. They also add a drawstring waist, cinching the middle to avoid an oompa loompa look. Below the waist, the legs have a boxy and long fit, which I don’t mind because I often roll my pant cuffs.
The pant rise is also nicely balanced, which is difficult to do with a jumpsuit. When the rise is too high, men with longer torsos get their balls squeezed; if it’s too low the trousers look baggy. One thing I would prefer is a more narrow waist. The drawstring works, but I don’t want to undo it frequently (more on that later).
A jumpsuit offers the perfect opportunity for designers to maximize function, and Westerlind falls short here. They improved on fabric and fit, but simply copied all of the standard jumpsuit features. That means two breast pockets, two large front pockets, and two large back pockets.
On my skiing jumpsuit, there’s a transparent pocket, phone pocket with earbud hole, pen pocket, and numerous other features. Do I need a ballpoint pen when I’m shredding the gnar? Of course not, but it’s nice that some designer made the effort to maximize utility.
For an inherently utilitarian garment, why not add zip pockets or smartphone compartments or adjustable cuffs or ventilation zippers in the underarm? With so much space for creativity here, it’s evident that Westerlind didn’t make much effort to enhance functionality for the modern person. I’m sure that if they only had a conversation with a few climbers, they would have designed the jumpsuit with radical new features.
At the very least, skip the buttons and give me a working zipper fly. I’ve heard women complain about rompers; how they need to be removed entirely when you use the bathroom. This is a similar, although less severe, inconvenience. In the bathroom, I can’t seem to remember which buttons to unfasten, and then I usually end up unfastening the entire thing just to pee.
Custom indigo dye: 5/5
Another limitation of the jumpsuit: it’s only available in white, black, gray, and brown. I would rather avoid black in New York City, as it’s cliché. White had that “Messiah has returned” look. Gray looks like a construction worker, and brown doesn’t complement my skin tone.
Reluctantly, I chose the white. And I really liked this jumpsuit, but it really stood out way too much. My girlfriend had the idea that we dye it indigo, which I did not realize was something I could just do. She gave me the address of a dye shop down the street, and I say, sure, it couldn’t hurt.
I walk in and there’s a small Filipino-American lady there selling a bunch of indigo stuff. I show her my white jumpsuit and she says she can do it, but I’ll need to help her because the jumpsuit is huge. “How many layers of indigo do I want?” I don’t know, I say; whatever it takes to make it blue?
I found out that a shade of indigo depends on the number of indigo dip cycles. You start an indigo dip cycle by putting the garment in a bucket and swirling it around. Then you wring it dry. Next we took it outside the store and did that giant rainbow parachute thing from grade school gym class where you air it out. And we did this entire cycle about six times.
Now this jumpsuit is truly mine. Because I was part of the process creating this look, I feel like I’m in there.
Looking into my closet, seeing my clothes, the jumpsuit stands out among the rest. I wear it when I want to express my creativity. It’s the perfect shade of indigo, and a significant part of that came from my own bare hands.
I work in fashion but until this point, I never knew how garments are actually dyed. Not to be sentimental, but if you ever have the opportunity to dye or sew something, I encourage you to do it. For most people clothing is a surface-level expression of aesthetics and status, but I assume if you’re reading a detailed product review of a jumpsuit, you are a little more connected to the creative aspects of fashion.
It feels great to get involved in customizing something, even something as simple as a sewing class, shirt alterations, or a custom made suit (if you have the cash), or working with your local dye shop, if you’re lucky to have one nearby. This creative experience helped me enjoy the Westerlind jumpsuit even more than I expected.