Depending on your vintage, you may or may not know what a body is. Or rather what a body was, back in the late 80s, when Donna Karan came up with a new concept in easy-to-wear, 24-hour, all-black chic, the foundation piece of which was a leotard-like garment with poppers at the crotch. This – the body – was a sleek, ridge-free base on to which you could add, say, a black mini and a blazer with shoulder pads.
The body is back. Forget worrying about whether to half-tuck, French-tuck or untuck your shirt, because a smooth body or leotard is the new alpha top. It could be a purpose-built body, or it could be a leotard, if your athleisure wardrobe stretches to one of those.
Blame the revival of the one-piece over the bikini. A swimsuit can be turned into a daytime holiday outfit with the addition of a pair of shorts, or into an end-of-day cocktail outfit with a long skirt. I’m usually sceptical about the how-to-turn-your-picnic-blanket-into-a-cape school of dressing but the logistics of swimming and sunbathing mean holidays are one time when that kind of outfit organically happens.
I’m all for looking for ways to get more wear out of your existing wardrobe but, on non-holiday days, something sturdier than a swimsuit is called for. Specialist dance stores such as Bloch are a useful source of non-flimsy, stay-put leotards but then these, like swimsuits, have the disadvantage of no crotch fastening and life is too short to take your top off every time you need the loo. I’m a big fan of the Heist Outer Body, a bodysuit that I have in petrol blue. Not cheap at £95, but it combines effective shapewear panelling with streamlined styling and comfortable, breathable fabric that isn’t a battle to get into.
Also, the all-important crotch fastening isn’t poppers but instead a hook and eye fastening, so you don’t risk that inelegant moment when you reach to get wine glasses down from a high kitchen shelf and your body unpops itself and springs out of your waistband.
The bodysuit is the easiest partner to the trousers with a gathered waist – Mom Trousers, I’m calling them – that are taking over from flat-fronted styles. (Mark my words, here.) Loose tops look great louchely tucked into flat-fronted trousers, but a blowsy top with a gathered-waist trouser gets messy. A leotard keeps everything simple. At least until you need to pee.
• Jess wears her own leotard. Trousers, £36, warehouse.co.uk. Heels, £55.99, zara.com. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Samantha Cooper at Carol Hayes Management using MAC Cosmetics and Ouai.
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