Welcome to Refinery29’s So, How Is It Really? where we take a look at all of the topics that have the internet talking. In studying them up close, we answer the question of what it’s really like to try out a trend like a catsuit, a viral product, or an unexpected TikTok hack.
The catsuit is one of 2022’s style protagonists. Since last year, it rapidly went from being an ‘80s fitness staple to a fashion-forward garment, worn by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Dua Lipa and championed by designer brands like Balenciaga and Mugler.
While I’ve previously never thought I would wear a piece that would make me look like an extra in one of Jane Fonda’s workout videos, I became intrigued by the trend after seeing the Balenciaga catsuits that Kim Kardashian wore during her Saturday Night Life press tour in 2021. They looked chic and luxurious, embossed in velvet, rather than the shiny Spandex of the Flashdance era. But most of all, they looked easy to throw on and leave on the house in a, well, flash.
So, I set out to try the trend out for a week.
The first catsuit I got my hands on was a black lace number from Sarah Regensburger. I decided to test it out at New York Fashion Week this month. What better time to try a statement piece than when everyone else in New York is trying to grab the attention of street-style photographers with equally over-the-top looks? After seeing Kourtney Kardashian in a similar black lace bodysuit, I knew It was now or never. But while the eldest Kardashian sister wore hers with just a trench coat — baring her undies through the thin veil of the bodysuit’s lace — I didn’t have the courage to do the same, especially considering my roommate’s concerned face when I walked out of my room to show her the look. “Do you have to wear it?” she asked.
Instead, I figured I could wear the catsuit as a base layer under a Selkie puff-sleeve dress that I have continuously described as “my gothic cupcake look.” I accessorised the outfit with a pair of Miu Miu glitter platforms and a Saint Laurent bag. I figured the muted, all-black colour scheme would distract from the catsuit’s nakedness and the extravagance of the dress.
Waiting in line for the Tia Adeola show, I received more compliments than I have for all my looks in the last two years combined and (gasp with me, please!) was actually stopped by a street style photographer. I was amazed at how confident and comfortable I felt with this catsuit, sporting its delicate texture as body adornment. But the next phase of my experiment would be a bit more complicated.
Knowing the Kardashians have been responsible for the catsuit’s recent popularity, I needed to go to the source: Kim Kardashian's brand, Skims. I skimmed through the vast selection of catsuits and bodysuits available on the website, choosing a strapless onesie to channel the Y2K era. I felt positive about it when I first opened the bag: the fabric was comfortable and it featured some interesting corseting details on the sides. While it looked good in the mirror, wearing it out was a different story.
Walking through my Manhattan neighbourhood, I could sense people staring at me. I looked at my reflection and realised that the nude hue matched my skin so well that I looked… naked underneath the white shirt. To add to that, the top kept rolling down and I’d have to keep pushing it up to prevent me from actually ending up naked on the street. All in all, the look didn’t work for me. While I felt confident enough to wear a sheer catsuit during New York’s prime fashion season, wearing a naked-like jumpsuit on a normal day warranted too many looks from strangers for my taste.
I had one last frontier to conquer with a catsuit on: the gym. For this challenge, I wore a black catsuit from Bandier that featured mesh paneling on the sides. I thought that I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing a catsuit on a treadmill, but I was wrong. Honestly, if I could wear this catsuit for the rest of my life to work out, I would: The fabric is so soft it feels like you’re wearing nothing. I even forgot about the sheer nakedness on the sides and the fact that it was very probable I was sporting a camel toe to the gym.
While my week in catsuits may have not been a total success, I walked away with a newfound understanding for women who prefer the bodycon onesie lifestyle. On the one hand, it’s a nightmare to sport in public spaces, where going to the bathroom means you’d have to take off all your clothes (similarly to jumpsuits and rompers) to do the deed. On the other, it's a grab-and-go kind of garment that can be easily accessorised — from trainers to puff-sleeve dresses — and versatile enough to persuade even the most conservative of dressers (me!) to give a trend a chance (just make sure you empty your bladder before heading out). And isn’t that what fashion is all about?
See you out there, cat people. I’ll be in my Bandier. Maybe even outside of the gym.
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