It should come as no surprise that as soon as the temperature breaks 80 degrees in the South, you’ll catch a few fashion “trends” gracing sidewalks, playgrounds, and front porches year after year. There are the little girls twirling around in lightweight, whimsical smocked dresses with big, floppy color-coordinated bows keeping their pigtails in place. There are the moms and dads carrying their little tots in the cotton bubbles that reveal those little, often chubby, legs. And then there are the can’t-be-missed little boys racing or rolling around in their Jon Jons. Jon Jons—or John Johns, depending who is spelling it—are shortalls made for little boys and usually designed from a cotton print fabric. They're usually shorts length and sleeveless, and resemble overalls, but with far greater charm and character– like the little guys wearing them.
Just like every popular fashion style, the Jon Jon has a story (or, in this case, a person) behind its origin. Take a look back at photos from the days when President John F. Kennedy was in office, and you’ll see his son, John F. Kennedy, Jr. (often referred to as John-John) running around The White House halls and on the Hyannis Port lawns in these sweet rompers. The style—and name—stuck. And this adorable one-piece romper has become a Southern classic.
We often hear mothers, grandmothers, and aunts talking about how fun it is to dress little girls because of all of the styles available. Little boys don’t seem to have as many stylish options. That is, unless you consider the Jon Jon– or John John. Look, and you shall find so many patterns and designs, from plaid and gingham to smocked and monogrammed to college colors and the not-so-ferocious creatures. Plus, they’re easy and lightweight, making them a no-brainer for our long hot summers.
It’s also worth stopping a mama and asking her where she purchased a Jon-Jon you’re admiring because her response might even be: “I made it from some fabric I found.” And that’s part of the natural Jon Jon charm. A few of them are one-of-a-kind. All of them were meant for being passed down from brother to brother or cousin to cousin. Here, a few of our favorite boutiques that carry this uniform that so many Southern mamas count on for getting through the summer heat.