This article appeared in Glamour Magazine.
By Jenny Singer
Bodysuits answer the age-old question: What if your thong stayed in place by looping around your neck? But a second question inevitably remains: How are we supposed to pee while wearing one?
A bodysuit is a skintight, leotard-style one-piece. It covers the wearer’s crotch, either seamlessly like a swimsuit, or with snaps, like a baby’s onesie. The bodysuit may include shorts, it may include sleeves, it may have neither. It is a tube that receives the body, as a pitcher receives cool water.
Bodysuits are not a new trend—they emerged in the 1940s and were popularized among non-ballet dancers during the 1970s—but they currently have us in a chokehold. Every woman celebrity wears bodysuits, and wears them regularly: Jennifers Aniston and Lopez, Meghan Markle, Gigi and Bella, Kendall and Kylie and Khloe. The following stars wore bodysuits at the 2021 Met gala: Serena Williams, Ella Emhoff, Olivia Rodrigo, and Lil Nas X. Rihanna’s Fenty, Beyoncé’s Ivy Park, and Kim Kardashian’s Skims all lean heavily on bodysuits. Cool-girl clothing site Revolve has five times more entries for “bodysuit” than it does for “skirt.” Bodysuits with intricate cutouts are all but inescapable on influencers and street style stars.
It’s easy to see why. Bodysuits are sexy. “I feel held in, I feel sexier, I feel like I can move around more,” says Norma Kamali, the iconic designer who helped popularize bodysuits in the ’70s and ’80s. “It just feels good.” If they fit well, bodysuits cannot wrinkle, bunch, untuck, go limp. You can wear them to a workout class or a business meeting. A bodysuit is a fast pass to the holy grail of modern dress: the elusive state of looking “put together.”
“You might think that wardrobe that fits snugly to your body would make you more uncomfortable,” says stylist Laurie Brucker, “but when you kind of feel that sucked-in feeling, it helps you to feel secure.” A great bodysuit makes you feel like you could be president of these United States. Perhaps that is why they are the outfit of choice for pop stars, superheroes, and Olympic gymnasts.
How to (really) pee in a bodysuit
But even superheroes and pop stars have to pee. And the question, in a bodysuit, is: How? This really happened to me in the course of writing this article: I went on a date in a bodysuit. We went into a café, and I entered the single-stall bathroom. Inside I peed quickly. Then I spent what felt like several slow hours furiously trying to resnap my bodysuit over my crotch. I was sweating, shaking, performing a wildly impromptu gynecological examination on myself. When I stepped outside the bathroom, wild-eyed, my date was standing there. So were four women who had formed a line in the time I had been trying to snap my bodysuit.
I turned to the experts to find out what I am doing wrong.
“The idea of how you go to the bathroom, how you pee when you wear it, at the beginning was the big issue,” says Kamali. She recalls that people insisted they could not wear bodysuits, because they could not go to the bathroom. People demanded that she add snaps to the crotch of her designs, to facilitate peeing. She tried it but found that “the snaps are more uncomfortable than figuring out how to go to the bathroom.” Instead, Kamali’s bodysuits use fusible stretch elastic around the legs to make them easier to remove. “Putting snaps at your crotch, excuse me—it doesn’t make sense,” she says.
In fact, Kamali is adamant that if you even need to ask how to pee in a bodysuit, you already have your answer. “The people who need to be told how to pee shouldn’t be wearing a bodysuit,” she says. “You should forget it—it’s not for you, don’t worry about it. Wear a top. Do something else.”
A person who truly belongs in a bodysuit, says Kamali, does not think about the bathroom. That person thinks, I’ll figure it out. I want to wear this bodysuit, I don’t need anyone telling me how to pee. If you’re preoccupied by pee, says Kamali, “just don’t buy ’em. It’s not your lifestyle.”
Feeling gently negged by this advice, I tried Brucker, who works as a personal stylist. Her advice is simple: “Unsnap it, use the restroom, snap it back, pull on your bottoms.” Brucker acknowledges that snapping and resnapping is easier said than done. “When you’re in a rush to get back out somewhere and you’re fussing with the snaps to get them back on, I find that challenging,” she says. “It’s like when you’re in a rush and you’re trying to put the key in a key hole.” Indeed, as Shakepeare puts it, there’s the rub. Brucker says that some women put a leg up on the toilet or braced against the wall to make resnapping easier.
What about the option of pulling the crotch tab to the side? “If you’re in a rush, and time is of the essence, pull to the side,” says Brucker. “But you do run the risk of peeing on your hand…of having a little spillage, if you will.”
Now, what about the final, nuclear option—simply yanking the entire thing down, like a wrapper over a candy bar? “It’s not like it’s a wet bathing suit where it’s going to be impossible to pull it back up again, so it really is just a matter of what bottoms do you have, what kind of bathroom floor are you in,” Brucker says.
At work or in a dirty bar, it might be better to use options one or two. But Brucker notes that bodysuit wearers who strip all the way down are in good company.
“J.Lo has to do it too!” she says. “When I think of J.Lo in a bodysuit, I’m like, ‘She’s also snapping and resnapping with her pants around her ankles when she’s in the bathroom!’” And it’s so true—we often seen J.Lo rocking a skintight bodysuit or voluminous jumpsuit on the red carpet. It is comforting to know that she also, later, feels the cool breeze of bathroom air over her entire body. In that sense, we are all in solidarity.
Despite these indignity, Brucker points out that we’re not chumps for wearing bodysuits. “The positive is that once you get it snapped and pull your pants up your outfit is solidly constructed and put together, you don’t have to worry about needing to retuck and shift.” Kamali agrees—the bodysuit has endured because it’s a piece that makes its wearer feel powerful. “So much of what we like to wear is because we feel good in it,” she says. “The bodysuit feels good on, and you don’t have to think of it.” And that’s final.
Until you’re in the bathroom stall, that is. And then you can just think of J.Lo.
(c) Glamour Magazine