It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when my love of the bodysuit began. Yet, I can determine it was sometime in my childhood. At around aged seven I began various genres of dance classes; including ballet. Despite my love of each class and having a place to channel my creative energy by moving so freely, all I remember of them is how beautiful I felt moving in what I was wearing. Per typical dance outfits; I had my hair firmly combed back with water and hairspray, a scrunchie, a dusky rose bodysuit and my pink ballet slippers.
It was an atypical childhood memory and although I look back on it as idealistic, it is not much because of learning to dance and more because of how I felt in the outfit I danced in. Today at twenty-six, not much has changed in terms of how I want to feel when clothed. My dressing rituals adhere to a few set rules; I must feel comfortable, I must be able to move gracefully and I must feel my most feminine self. The sentiment I remember of putting on a bodysuit then is much similar to what I feel when I put one on now. I still love moving to music and still do that; albeit in a more liberated fashion. The feeling that has remained the same and a constant in my life is what I feel when I put on a certain item of clothing. The bodysuit for me has an undeniably assured feeling to it.
If I were to go on a date, whether I knew about it at the last minute or it had been planned for a month in advance, a bodysuit is the first thing I will choose to wear. Truthfully they hold you in all the places you want to be held, they make the waist narrower, emphasize the lumbar and elongate the torso. However, the upper half and its many varieties is perhaps where its true beauty lies. I broadcast this to my friends like some badly kept style secret; the upper half of a bodysuit (whether V shaped, thinly strapped or a tie front) spreads so beautifully across the neckline and decollate. Admittedly, the neck is one of my favorite parts of a woman’s body and the bodysuits visive of it only convinces me my love of it is necessary. However, it does not seem naive when I ask of myself and my friends; have you ever seen a woman not look beautiful in a bodysuit? Unanimously, we agree they enamor women’s bodies.
It’s possible that this love-cum-obsession is helped by the many contemporary brands that are making both exquisite and sustainable bodysuits. I regularly search through the offerings of Gil Rodriquez, Tank Air Studio, The Bodysuit of Barcelona (yes, my friend launched a whole line dedicated to the art of this great piece), Baserange and Wolford. My contemporary searches are driven by modernizing my vintage collection; which of course still includes my rose bodysuit from childhood. I keep them safely stored in my archive; knowing perfectly well a vintage search for a bodysuit is a fine art I have had to master. One that requires me to ask; what makes me so committed to this piece? Will I keep these forever? I answer myself as honestly as I can and decide it’s because I can be a very relaxed dresser – I want my wardrobe to exist around my life, rather than it be my life. I wear a lot of trousers and jeans because my slightly tomboy-ish nature wants to be active and comfortable when driving or moving around, yet I most definitely always want to express my femininity – and the bodysuit curtails my anxiety of not feeling that.
I am so committed to the bodysuit that I recently completed a year search for a particular one. Early last year, I saw a photograph of Lily-Rose Depp in a floral peach suit and I instantaneously wanted it; not a copy or duplicate but the identical. The search was led by my early fixation with Vanessa Paradis and the pursuit felt like a cycle completing itself. My mum listened to Paradis’ music copiously in my childhood and I vividly remember listening to her in the car on a cassette (nineties!) before my seven-year-old self-arrived at those precious dance lessons. This preoccupation followed through into young adulthood when images of Vanessa supported and led me to a deep love and resonance for her slight frame, gapped-teeth and unique beauty. This was the refresh I needed when my twenty-year-old self worried about societal norms of beauty and my affiliation for her daughter felt only natural. When I saw that bodysuit on Lily, complimented perfectly with Levi’s 501s – I knew I had to have it.
After twelve months of searching, I garnered it had to be a vintage piece because I failed on all contemporary brand fronts. One day on a whim I typed into eBay 1960s bodysuits and there it was – at last; a vintage Mary Quant bodysuit made in England. I have since bought a quantity of it that I would rather not disclose publicly. However, as I so well know there is no heavy consideration that has to take place before buying a bodysuit as I know it will work with anything in my wardrobe; jeans, a skirt or shorts and make me feel elegant. It arrived and it only further cemented that this is a lifelong love and my attitude when pulling out a bodysuit is; there it is, I’ll put it on, it’ll look good and it’ll emphasize all of my best features – let me go out now and have fun. The femininity I feel in a bodysuit is unparalleled in comparison to other items, I feel so divinely soft and held in them. Maybe it is that of my semi-tomboyish nature that feels so comfortable in something that is quite hardy holding me across my stomach and keeping me secure, but I also dare any woman to not look good in a bodysuit. I will go as far to say it won’t happen; because they love women and women love them back.
Laurie Clémence is the founder of Denude Magazine, a writer and sustainability consultant.