The 'body' is back in fashion!

Designers of women's clothing are reinventing older styles for today

It was the scourge of women's wardrobes in the 1980s: now "the body" is back to torment a new generation too young to remember the downsides of wearing it.

Sales are soaring despite the garment's notorious reputation as one of the least comfortable items of clothing ever invented. Retailers, taking their cue from pop stars such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna as well as catwalk designers like Lanvin and Chloé, are increasing their stocks for the rest of the year.

Fans rate the body, also known as the bodysuit, for much the same reason that Donna Karan, the New York designer who made it famous, alighted on it. It goes with – and under – everything. And this time round, hi-tech fabrics mean bodies can double as 21st-century corsets, sucking in while covering up.

The body's revival comes alongside a slew of other unlikely resurgences, from jumpsuits and ponchos to dungarees and flares. Edith Youngblood, head of intimates at the fashion analysts WGSN, said the trend for vintage clothing had prompted women to reappraise what they wear – and why. "I hate to say it, but women have been known to forgo comfort for the sake of cutting-edge fashion, and the body is one of those instances. The vintage influence, which has translated to the high street, has a lot to do with women accepting some uncomfortable traditional aspects of lingerie."

Marks & Spencer, Asos and River Island are among the high-street retailers that have exploited the body trend. At the luxury bodywear label Wolford, sales of bodies are increasing faster than anything else it sells. A House of Fraser spokesman said customers were "demanding more and more styles". The department store group said sales of Flexees, its most popular shapewear brand, have jumped by 190 per cent compared with last year.

Just as the likes of Lady Gaga seek to shock with their outfits, flaunting so-called "intimates" in distinctly public settings, so do their fans. Farida Kaikobad, River Island's womenswear brand director, said: "Girls are wearing bodies as outerwear for an edgier look."

Jessica Brown, editor of the fashion industry title Drapers, said bodysuits also played into the dancewear trend, which the box office success of Black Swan has helped to reignite. "A body under a floaty or pleated skirt really plays into the ballerina look," she said.

But, as Ms Brown and others warn, fashion comes at a price where bodysuits are concerned. "They aren't that practical – toilet trips are a nightmare," she said.

Rob Phillips, of the London College of Fashion, said: "Those of us with longer memories can recall that bodies and jumpsuits are far from easy to wear – the construction relies on assuming that every woman has the same body proportions, which is clearly not the case. And it can lead to fashion horrors."

Mr Phillips said trends, even unlikely ones, would continue to make a comeback "because of the nature of design – as a designer it's important to look at what's gone before, in much the same way that trends in music come back around. But for all our sakes, let's hope the body isn't around for long this time."

Additional reporting by Karina Whalley

The body

Donna Karan gave the world the bodysuit in the 1980s; now it lives again on the catwalk.

The corset

In the past, the corset was the go-to item for a wasp-waisted figure. Multiple reincarnations later, it is now an item of clothing in its own right.


Seventies flares are in again, beating their more recent cousins, boot-cut jeans, to pole position as this summer's hot look.

The maxi skirt

Another staple of 1970s fashion, the maxi is bringing decorum back to our wardrobes. Wonderfully comfy to wear.

The jumpsuit

Some consider it the bodysuit's equal when it comes to hideous 1980s throwbacks. But that hasn't stopped the jumpsuit from springing back into fashion.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas