“I don’t wear clothes other than jumpsuits,” says chef Missy Robbins, who helms two of NYC’s most white-hot temples of carbohydrate worship, three-year-old Lilia and new-ish-ly opened sister restaurant Misi. “I have probably twelve,” she continues, “two different grays, two blues, lots of black — I wear mostly black.” The bulk of this chef’s dozen wardrobe was designed by Tilit, a workwear brand headquartered on the Lower East Side of New York, owned and operated by Jenny Goodman and Alex McCrery, a husband-and-wife team who started their hospitality-focused brand in 2012 after shared decades of working in the restaurant industry.
Prior to Tilit’s launch, traditional chef-wear hadn’t changed since the mid-1800s, with the standard white double-breasted jacket cut without much consideration for body type. (“Women’s [whites] were basically just smaller versions of a men’s coat,” explains Goodman.) “I certainly felt comfortable in my chef’s clothes,” adds Robbins, who had worn the standard garb for most of her 27-year career in fine dining, “but I never felt particularly great.” Tilit set out to create a fashion brand that was also kitchen-friendly, offering chefs workhorse garments that were rugged enough to survive a busy Saturday night, rendered in silhouettes and colors that could be worn into the dining room or even on the street. Explains Missy: “What Jenny and Alex have done is say, ‘Why can’t [chefs] dress in a way that’s more fashion forward?’”
After the group met on a consulting project in 2014, Robbins — a self-described “crazy creature of habit” — was persuaded by her girlfriend to try one of the brand’s existing jumpsuits. (“At first I was like, ‘No, I’m going to stick with what I’ve been wearing for 20 years,’ but one day I snuck it on, and I was like, ‘Oh, this feels good.’”) Last year, the three decided it was time to collaborate, so they re-worked one of Tilit’s existing styles to Missy’s specifications, adding long sleeves (“I started complaining that I was cold,” she says) and a front zipper in lieu of buttons. “It’s easy on, easy off — very important for hustling,” adds Jenny. The result landed on Tilit’s site this past Thursday: a heavy-duty one-and-done outfit that can go from kitchen to dining room with ease. Missy sums it up: “They’ve [enabled] chefs — men, women, everybody — to break the mold of wearing a traditional uniform, and feel great about themselves while they’re working, like everyone else in the world gets to do.”
Click through to shop Missy Robbins’ limited-edition jumpsuit, along with a few of our other favorites from Tilit’s lineup.
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