The return of the body

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The body – a woman’s best friend – is back in fashion. Get ’em while they’re good.

Body by ChloeOne thing I was hugely relieved to see when I went through the spring/summer collections was that the body is back. I will be snapping these up big-time while they’re here.

I don’t mean the underwear type of body, but the kind that are worn as outerwear or as an intermediate layer. 

I LOVED my 1990s bodies and absolutely lived in them. Maybe it’s all those old ballet lessons that gives me the feel for a leotard. No tucking and rucking and pulling out, no bare midriffs, no bare backs. For those of us who like our clothes to go on and stay put, they were a godsend. You could choose from those that did up with hooks and eyes (fiddly in a public loo), poppers or velcro, but to be honest, the best bet was usually to buy a size bigger and just pull the thing out of the way when required. 

Back in the day, my faves were the vest type, the long-sleeved t-shirt type (with a proper brief, of course, not a thong – a more pointless or uncomfortable option, I can’t imagine), and the poloneck sweater type.

Pop on one of these and a good pair of opaque tights, and you could top it with any kind of skirt, including a wrap-round or a sarong, and never fear that you’d be unpeeled at the first breath of wind. They also looked equally good under trousers, creating a neat silhouette.

The bodies that I found less useful were the ones where the top half was a blouse, although these do at least have the merit of not pulling out as soon as you bend forward. But that tucking-in thing was a problem, when waistbands were at waist height because a more flattering blouse shape for most women ends on the high hip – ie: outside your skirt or trouser waistband.

Quite why bodies fell out of favour I don’t understand – when they appeared, I thought they would be perennial, like the vest and the man’s-style shirt, because they were just so wonderfully useful. But fashions change, and we are forced to change with them.

I nursed my favourite bodies through many years of wear, and even tried making my own a few times by splicing a t-shirt to a pair of big knickers (doesn’t really work), but although I still have one existing, threadbare example from Gap, in the end I basically had to concede defeat.

So this year, I would say, get them while they’re here, especially in nude, black, white and other useful neutrals. A nude one will go under a lace, crochet or chiffon top of any colour, or give you some coverage under a strappy summer dress; a white one looks great under a black shirt, or vice-versa, and if you’re toned enough, they can even be worn on their own instead of a t-shirt. 

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