Off the air in the KTDY studio this morning Debbie Ray and I somehow got on the subject of Elvis' jumpsuits.  I explained to her why he wore them, and she said I should write a story about it, and here it is.

First of all, when Elvis returned to the stage in Las Vegas in 1969, most performers were wearing tuxedos on stage.  Elvis thought a tux was just too stuffy.  In a video I have of Elvis from that time in his career, he's wearing a suit but it's not a tuxedo and it looks like it might have been shot in Vegas but I can't confirm.  It also could have been a rehearsal and not an actual performance.  So I can say at least once after his return to the stage after a 9 year hiatus, he wore a regular suit, not a jumpsuit or tux.

There are a couple of stories that have circulated over the years as to how the jumpsuit came to be.  The first is that Elvis commissioned Bill Belew to make the now infamous "Elvis Jumpsuit" after splitting his pants on stage.  I believe this story has some merit.  But since he appeared on stage the very first night in Vegas wearing a jumpsuit, how can this be?  What came first the split or the jumpsuit.

I believe the split came first, possibly during a rehearsal in Vegas while he was wearing a "regular outfit".  And I believe that's when Belew was hired to design the jumpsuit.

The other story is that Elvis simply needed something that allowed for a lot of movement, needed to be different and of course in true Elvis style, flashy and therefore approved the jumpsuit look.

Based on the comments I've heard from the people in his inner circle, I believe he probably ripped a few pants in rehearsal and decided he needed something different.  Belew came up with the jumpsuit concept and Elvis approved.  He made them flashy, and flared the leg as Elvis liked.  One thing that wasn't Elvis' idea, was the high collars.  Belew said in an interview before his death, Elvis was the only man who could be framed by a high collar because he was so good-looking.  Back then, high collars were reserved for women.  Elvis was into Karate and that was also taken into consideration.  At the time of his death, Belew was designing a jumpsuit for Presley that had lasers built into the suit.

These Are My 2 Favorites

The Last Jumpsuit Elvis Ever Wore