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What i Heart Now: Bodysuits


Amy beat me to the punch when she posted about bodysuits in her series Lingerie Friday’s but it just meant that great minds think alike. Or maybe it meant that great minds think a lot about lingerie.

Considering the fact that my eight month anniversary sewing lingerie is coming up, it’s an obvious progression that my mind wandered to bodysuits. It wandered but it quickly got stuck because like many of you, body suits are questionable. How do you wear them? What do you wear them with? Are they outerwear or inner wear? How are VPL’s (visible p**** lines) and flat chests avoided? And the issue of going to the bathroom. Eek… let’s not go there.

But I want to like bodysuits. I really, really do. They have a connotation of being only over seductive and I’ve been trying to prove that thinking wrong. I believe that just like any trend, bodysuits can be luxe as well as everyday, if worn correctly.


The history of the bodysuit is just as interesting as its mode of wearing, mostly because it has crossed into many categories of clothing. The exact moment or era bodysuits were born is difficult to pinpoint but it’s a safe to say, at least for the purpose of this post – a history lesson on fashion, that their life began as activewear. The French acrobat Jules Leotard wore a two piece, body-hugging garment (this is where the term leotard comes from) and ballerinas have been wearing them since the nineteenth century (look at a Degas painting). Since then, bodysuits have been worn as loungewear, activewear, innerwear, and outerwear. In the 1950s, Claire McCardell became famous for being the anti-Dior, making sportswear and everyday wear popular, and one of her favorite silhouettes was the leotard. In the 1980s, Donna Karen launched her simple dressing system, Seven Easy Pieces, and made black, jersey bodysuits part of the modern day woman’s wardrobe (call me young but I only have images of Jane Fonda).

History was not providing me with any solutions as I was trying to think of a modern way to wear bodysuits. A lot of trends fly where I work but wearing a leotard might cause my manager and coworkers to wonder about my sanity. Then I came across an article in Health Magazine called “Time To Shape Up,” which showed how to wear foundation pieces under dresses, jeans, and skirt/top combos. Aha! This is how I would wear body suits – as a prettier alternative to shape wear. I don’t need to wear shape wear for its primary purpose – to suck and smooth body lines (I’m pretty skinny) – but when I’m dressing, I like feeling secured. That’s part of the reason I like wearing high waisted jeans – because my bottom half is tucked in.

So, truthfully, and assuming that the hoohah region had a button closure, bodysuits underneath a flowy or fit-and-flare dress or a sweater and skirt combo is a practical, comfortable, and definitely pretty possibility in my near future (look at the bottom right picture in the image above). Wearing something that is just as pretty, maybe even prettier, than what is worn on top… now that puts together an ensemble.

What do you think?



  1. Reply


    I love bodysuits! I’ve been told that bodysuits are meant to be worn as a shirt that’s been tucked in, that way you don’t need to keep re-tucking your shirt in throughout the day. In any case, that’s what I do when I wear one.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      It’s the simple things in life that make a difference – like not having to tuck in a shirt constantly.

  2. Reply

    Hannah Alyse

    I wear a lot of fuller bottoms and so I like the top to be attractively tight…bodysuits are such a great look I think with flared skirts. It gives a very ‘finished’ feel to the whole look. As opposed to a little sloppy with a regular top, which can untuck or stretch loose throughout the day. All in all they are such a versatile piece.

    I can’t wait to see how you wear yours! Also, I am SUPER excited to try and make your Amerson pattern 🙂 I hadn’t even thought about making lingerie until I you wrote about it. It sounds so decadent and accomplished!

  3. Reply


    I think bodysuits are a smart idea when you don’t want the top to ride up…but you could end up getting a wedgie instead! Have you seen Daughterfish’s maillots? Unbelievably sexy and beautiful: http://daughterfish.com/?p=1505

  4. Reply

    Jasmine Harris

    Before bodysuits I would always call these babygrows as I had one with poppers at the bottom (so going to the toilet was MUCH easier)
    However I really do want to get a couple leotard style ones, or even some of the Black Milk swim suits which would definitely be handy in the summer when it’s hot and sticky outside; But you really can wear them all through the year with a lot of outfits, I think they are great 🙂

  5. Reply

    Maggie Smith

    Tell us you are woking on a bodysuit pattern?!?!? That would be awesome!

  6. Reply

    Heather Lou

    I love the look, especially under a flowy skirt or with highwaisted jeans – so sleek. My issue is really the VPLs though. My fanny will not be corralled by your lycra tyranny.

  7. Reply


    “You don’t need a Stanley to wear this Stella…” Girl, you crack me up! I feel like I’ve seen people wearing a bodysuit with high-waisted jeans, or a skirt and it totally works, but generally these people are very thin and don’t need much support (in the boob region) which I do. And the bodysuits that have a bra (like the Stella) look way more like lingerie to me and I would feel uncomfortable wearing it as outerwear. I also feel like anything that body conscious would make me feel really self-conscious – even though I’d probably look totally fine. And layering it underneath other clothing sounds… hot? But then again I don’t like wearing one-piece bathing suits (no matter that I’m not in “perfect” shape to wear a bikini) because just thinking about that extra fabric around my midriff in the TX heat makes me start sweating!! I think shapewear is totally appropriate for dressier occasions, or in certain work environments, but I don’t usually think of these type of garments as “beautiful” – more industrial! But maybe there is room for it to be both? I don’t know… I’m still definitely on the fence… and my apologies for writing a book in your comment section!! Hahaha!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Common, a Streetcar Named Desire reference was needed. Plus, it’s Marlon Brando.

      I’ve been on the fence like you until now. I really want to like them and I’m trying to find a practical, comfortable, and most importantly, pretty way to wear them.

  8. Reply

    Miss Crayola Creepy

    I literally JUST bought a bodysuit a few weeks ago!

  9. Reply

    Dawn Olsen

    My favorite one is probably the one from ModCloth. I think it (and other bodysuits) would look perfect if tucked into, as you mentioned, high-waisted jeans. Or a skirt. Actually, I have a higher waisted black pencil skirt that fits quite nicely, and wearing something slimming under that would be fantastic. However, my only prior experience with body suits come from … color guard. High school color guard. We had unitards my senior year (hideous things, those were, with flared pants). And unitards for other years. Those things were most uncomfortable. They did have a button closure in the, uh, lower region, but it was an entire pain to snap it back together. Furthermore, more than one girl (myself included) sometimes had them slide/pop open while marching. In parades. In public.

  10. Reply


    I love a body suit with a flowy skirt, very ballerina like. I can’t wait to hear more about your blogging class!

  11. Reply

    Rebecca Wagner

    Not sure if you know about Black Milk Clothing over there, but they make ALOT of bodysuits, and a ton of people wear them daily 🙂
    On their facebook etc, there are loads of pic with how people style them 🙂

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Thank you for the link. I’m headed on over to check them out.

  12. Reply

    Sarah Welsch

    I always thought of them as an undergarmet, more like shapewear.



  13. Reply


    I used to wear bodysuits all the time when I lived in England because they kept out the cold and were prettier and sleeker than long johns. I stopped finding nice ones at some point and moved on to camis. I’m so glad they are making a comeback! Does this mean you might create a pattern for one????

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      maybe 🙂

  14. Reply

    James Buynitzky

    (Disclosure: I am a male sewist who primarily sews for his wife.) Would it be too nutty to split it to a cami top and nickers (like your Amerson) connected by a few snaps front and back? This would seem to me that it would keep the top tight and tucked without resorting to connectors in the “hoohah region” and you could even have different styles to mix and match.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      First of all, have I discovered something that only exists theoretically in the mind of every female seamstress? A sewist husband? Oh my. Say it isn’t so.

      Your solution is clever but I worry about the hardware. Snaps could get bulky and burdensome underneath clothing.

  15. Reply

    melissa Fehr Trade

    I love bodysuits (especially lacey numbers like #4 you posted), but I absolutely cannot wear any RTW bodysuits because my torso is a tad too long for every single one I’ve ever tried on and they’re, umm, incredibly, uncomfortably wedgie-inducing! So I’m really excited by the idea of drafting my own, which I see is included in the Kristina Shin lingerie drafting book I just received. So hurrah!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      You speak of a drafting method for bodysuits? Where? I must know more.

  16. Reply


    You have definitely sucked me back into owning one.. great finds especially #1!

    xoxo Lorelai
    Seams Unbiased

  17. Reply


    I’m enticed by the idea of bodysuits but they’ve always seemed either inconvenient or difficult to style. Regardless, I am more than willing to reconsider because they are so pretty. I particularly love the one from Fortnight ♥

  18. Reply


    Hmm. I always dismissed them as impractical, but if they had snaps (lol), then all these points about a sleeker look and no untucked shirts are actually very interesting indeed!!

  19. Reply


    It’s funny because right after I wrote my post I remembered I have a bodysuit with long legs that I bought long ago at H&M. I used to wear it under strappy flimsy dresses a lot. Never mind it required complete undressing. It really makes everything feel just a little bit lighter and smoother.

    p.s. the bodysuit draft at patternschool.com is a really great block to start from, for either swimsuits or lingerie – http://www.patternschool.com/?page_id=164. I made one last spring after I tried Daughter Fish’s bodysuit tutorial. His draft is rather high cut at the leg but then you already know how to adapt these things ;).

  20. Reply


    Maybe you can ordere a prom dress from http://www.yespromdresses.com? It is really good!

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