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A woman wearing a black plastic zip front latex fetish catsuit and thigh-high boots.
Promotional models in sleeveless catsuits

A catsuit is a one-piece form-fitting garment that covers the torso and the legs, and frequently the arms.[1] They are usually made from stretchable material, such as lycra, chiffon, spandex (after 1959), latex, or velour, but may use less elastic materials, such as leather or PVC. Catsuits frequently close by means of a zipper at the front or back.

Catsuits are most commonly worn by women, but are also worn by men. A catsuit is regarded as outerwear, but not normally street wear.

History and use[edit]

Catsuits first made an appearance around the 1940s,[citation needed] and were occasionally worn as a fashion item at various times from the 1960s to the 1990s. During the 1970s and 1980s, they were worn for aerobics and disco dancing. Around 1980, disco dance catsuits briefly became a street fashion item in the United Kingdom.

Athletes in sports such as speed skating, bobsled, winter triathlon, ski-racing, cycling, bodyflight and gymnastics wear garments similar to catsuits, called unitards, which are specifically geared to the needs of the sport involved. Also similar in appearance are wetsuits and drysuits used by scuba divers, and the speedsuits used by competitive swimmers before the more extreme forms of the suit were banned. Also, in tennis Serena Williams would sometimes wear catsuits, two examples are the 2002 US Open and the 2018 French Open.

The name "catsuit" is attributed only since about 1955 or 1960.[2][3] The origin of the name is unknown; it may refer to a slinky, catlike aspect given the wearer by some versions.[4]

Fetish use[edit]

Some people consider catsuits to be a fetish item. Catsuits for fetish use are often made of latex or PVC where such a catsuit is typically highly shiny, tight fitting and may be (but is not exclusively) worn with a corset over the top of the suit. Other materials such as lycra, shiny wet look, or velvet are options for fetish wear too, with some lycra materials having animal print designs. Catsuits can have zippers on the front or rear for access, with some having zippers on the shoulders. Additional zippers can be placed in specific areas for access, if required. Typically a fetish catsuit will not have gloves or feet. Feet, if present, are typically form fitting like socks and the gloves will have individual fingers. Typically gloves and socks can be worn as additional accessories to a catsuit to give a whole body look, with some opting to add a hood as an option too. Hoods can also be incorporated into the catsuit. Rarely will a catsuit incorporate boots or shoes, although it is possible. An option instead of gloves might be bondage mittens, which might have a D-ring at the top, and such catsuits can be used as straitjackets in the context of bondage. More extreme options for catsuits have incorporated monoglove instead of sleeves and they can also be used for bondage. Catsuits may also have incorporated corset and/or neck corset, although these are typically added as accessories to complete a look.


A zentai is a garment, usually made of spandex, being a catsuit with both feet gloves and a hood which totally encloses the wearer. The name zentai comes from the Japanese word for "whole body".

In popular culture[edit]

Actress Lee Meriwether as Catwoman in 1966

The catsuit is often worn in movies, television, music videos, and computer games.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Catsuit – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  2. ^ "cat suit". Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  3. ^ "catsuit". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  4. ^ The Sciolist. "catsuit (n.)". Etymology Online. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  5. ^ Nikki Finke (11 March 2009). "Another Iron Man 2 Deal". Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily. Retrieved 12 March 2009.
  6. ^ "The Catsuit « THE BASSEY BLOG". 20 January 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  7. ^ Beth Hardie. "Celebrity catsuit queens –'s top 10". Daily Mirror. UK. Retrieved 11 August 2011.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Catsuits at Wikimedia Commons