Bodysuits: The Most Versatile Layering Piece You Don’t Own

Photographed by Charles Roussel.
Laura Ruof is a fashion and beauty blogger at Call To Style. She Instagrams at @Call_To_Style.
In high school, I joined Model UN, mostly because my friends were in it and at conferences we got to pass official notes during the meetings. It was all fine until I was chosen to represent Great Britain, a very important country in Model UN. I decided that I just wasn’t ready for that much responsibility, so I quit. But, I’m coming out of retirement to be the ambassador of one last important thing: bodysuits. That’s right. To me, bodysuits are among the easiest pieces of clothing to wear, thanks to their layering capabilities, body-hugging qualities, and endless variety in design. I can’t think of a piece of clothing that you will get more use out of, and I will champion their cause to all corners of the Internet.
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After a sizeable bodysuit hiatus (I had all but forgotten them since the fruit-patterned iterations of my youth), I rediscovered them this year, finally seeing them for the crucial staples they can be. The one-piece acts as a base upon which you can build, and because it comes in so many varieties, you can utilize a bodysuit in every conceivable look. You can wear one to work — under a blazer, with a pair of high-waisted pants or a skirt. Taking one from day to night just means removing your blazer on your way out. Because of this versatility, your bodysuit will become your frequent go-to — the hardest working piece in your closet.
The no-fail fit also makes bodysuits easy to love. Their spandex fabrication provides a less-intense, Spanx-like effect — the perfect layering tee or tank that never bunches or comes untucked. But, the sleekness isn't only about ease of wear; it also makes it impossible to not feel sexy and sophisticated.
I don’t have to tell you how Kim Kardashian feels about bodysuits, and recent runway collections have hyped the power of the one-piece, too. Last spring, Atelier Versace featured decadent bodysuit designs that Beyoncé wore during her world tour. At New York Fashion Week this fall, Donna Karan brought back the suits she first introduced in the ‘80s (with her Seven Easy Pieces collection), this time with shirting bodices.
At this point, I have hopefully convinced you that you need to wear bodysuits all the time. The only question left is: What type to buy? Click through to see all the bodysuit varieties out there, and how to wear them.
Photographed by Charles Roussel.
Bathing Suits As Bodysuits
The first bodysuit I acquired was actually a bathing suit by Cover. Bright pink and sleeveless, with a high neck, it’s perfect underneath sheer skirts and with denim cutoffs. I use it to protect my skin under itchy sweaters and for layering under blazers. The nonstop usefulness of this "swimsuit" is what inspired me to start looking for more, and I landed on a long-sleeved houndstooth piece (also by Cover), which offers even more coverage, plus a great print. Zimmermann is another swim label with designs that shouldn’t be relegated to the beach. Theirs have sheer paneling and bustier shapes that lend pin-up appeal. Bonus: If you’re wearing a bathing suit as a bodysuit, you’re always ready for an impromptu pool party.
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Lingerie As Bodysuits
Lingerie brands like Wolford and Cosabella make magic with ladylike lace styles that are too good to be kept private. In that first photo, my Cosabella black-lace bodysuit (with a high neckline and short ruffle sleeves) makes a great going-out look with the help of leather shorts. Cosabella has been making bodysuits since the ‘80s, and the jersey paneling and thoughtfully placed lace on this one illustrate decades of perfection.
Ready-To-Wear Bodysuits
Ready-to-wear favorites from Free People and By Malene Birger have heeded my lobbying for still more bodysuits, and they’ve integrated the arguably old-school style into current collections. Fashion nerds and fit obsessives should look no further than Maison Martin Margiela, which has minimalist options cut from a technical jersey fabric. My white tank top bodysuit with organza piping by Wolford is more proof that lingerie works as clothes. And, paired under an oversized gray sweater, it keeps me cozy for fall, allows me to creatively show a little skin, and doesn’t add any bulk. (Beat that, button-ups.)
One part comfortable underwear and one part effortless layering piece equals the perfect wardrobe staple. There is not a piece of clothing in my closet that can compare to how a bodysuit makes me look and feel. If bodysuits were a country, then I would represent them in the Model UN of life. And, I promise, this time I wouldn’t quit.
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