A few years ago we wrote a short article about the origins of pyjamas and the history of the adult onesie. Since then we have seen endless images of celebrities trying to get in the papers by wearing their sleepwear. But the Daily Mail reminds us that Winston Churchill could be considered the earliest celebrity endorsement. For those that don’t know him, Winston Churchill was the wartime British Prime Minister who saved Western Civilisation. The Science Museum is marking the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death with a new exhibition ‘Churchill’s Scientists’, which will run from January 2015 until early 2016. Churchill was a great believer in the value of scientific innovation. Much of his vision might be considered science fiction rather than science possibly because he was friends with HG Wells, author of The Time Machine and similar fantasies. It is likely that Wells showed Churchill the potential of tanks, which the author described in the title of his 1903 short story The Land Ironclads. Churchill became the “godfather” of tanks, and as First Lord of the Admiralty saw their benefits long before the Army caught up. He was the first Prime Minister to take on a scientific advisor, and gave scientists unprecedented access to funding. Andrew Nahum, lead curator of Churchill’s Scientists, told the Telegraph: “During the war the question was never how much will it cost? It was can we do it and how soon can we have it?”
He also commissioned a custom made green velvet all-in-one suit designed especially to be worn in the bunker. So beloved were his all-in-one ‘siren’ suits, named in reference to the fact that they could be put on quickly and easily during an air-raid, that he ordered several. But these weren’t adult onesies as we know them now – handmade by gentleman’s outfitters Turnbull & Asser, they came both in pinstripe, and in the design of an Army dress uniform. The Royal shirtmaker is apparently hoping for a revival of this one piece suit and is planning to make two new siren suits – a city and country version – at £3,000 a piece. The siren suit is included in the exhibition to mark how Churchill was dressed when he first met his scientific adviser Reginald Jones, who was so baffled by the outfit, he assumed the Prime Minister was a maintenance man. Winston Churchill was famous for many things including for his work style, apparently holding meetings while in his bath sipping champagne. What a hero, no wonder he saw the potential of the adult onesie 70 years before anyone else.