RACHEL JOHNSON: Why a catsuit can turn any woman into a foxy feline

Why a catsuit can turn any woman into a foxy feline: It’s the star of the latest Marvel blockbuster with leading ladies in their 20s and 50s dazzling in the iconic one-piece. Here, RACHEL JOHNSON zips up and tries one for size

  • The catsuit comes second only to a sexy nurse outfit when it comes to catching the male gaze
  • When it comes to action-and-adventure dressing, the catsuit is the foxiest option
  • It’s badass and kick-ass for all ages and physiques, which is why Florence Pugh, Scarlett Johansson, Rachel Weisz are all sporting catsuits for Black Widow movie

Confession: like you, I suspect, the skin-tight catsuit was not my first choice, go-to outfit, for the past 15 months.

If I did have to discard the trusty elasticated tracksuit bottoms for some reason, I usually popped on a jumpsuit, which covered all manner of lockdown sins of the flesh. In fact, I’ve bought more jumpsuits in the past few years than sets of underwear, if that’s not too much information.

Still, this much I know: when it comes to bringing sexy back, the jumpsuit barely charts into the top ten of what men like. Not that I care. The jumpsuit almost falls into the ‘man repeller’ category of garment, as men (or the men I know) always look disappointed when you manifest in one.

‘Oh,’ my husband says when I emerge having spent my allotted 30 seconds getting ready. ‘Is that what you’re wearing?’ Even if I’ve made a huge effort, ie, put on heels.

The catsuit, on the other hand . . . The catsuit comes second only to a sexy nurse outfit when it comes to catching the male gaze.

Confession: like you, I suspect, the skin-tight catsuit was not my first choice, go-to outfit, for the past 15 months. Pictured: Rachel Johnson in her catsuit

When it comes to action-and-adventure dressing, let us all agree that the catsuit is by far the foxiest option.

It’s badass and kick-ass for all ages and physiques, which is why Florence Pugh (in her 20s), Scarlett Johansson (in her 30s), Rachel Weisz (50+) are all sporting catsuits for the new Marvel blockbuster Black Widow.

Miss Weisz is in iconic black leather, Miss Pugh in aviator-style white, and Miss Johansson in a tight, white, seamed number that really will, as the time-honoured phrase goes, ‘set pulses racing’. I could hardly look at her without feeling a bit flushed.

When it comes to action-and-adventure dressing, let us all agree that the catsuit is by far the foxiest option. Pictured: Rachel Weisz, 51, in the new Black Widow film

Scarlett Johansson, 36, in a tight, white, seamed number that really will, as the time-honoured phrase goes, ‘set pulses racing’

The catsuit is right up there with a Bond girl in a white bikini, it is the all-in-one equivalent of Ursula Andress in Dr No (not only did she look a million dollars, the bikini she wore sold for half a million dollars last year).

While the jumpsuit can be Seventies feminist Andrea Dworkin meets the wartime Rosie the Riveter, the catsuit has a long tail (see what I did there) when it comes to hotness. When I asked my husband Ivo what the catsuit meant to him, he went a bit misty.

‘Jane Fonda in Barbarella . . . Diana Rigg in The Avengers . . . ‘ he trailed off. I told him he was showing his age, but he picked up the thread, ever practical: ‘The best thing about the catsuit was the women in them and of course men being able to take them off, so having a zip down the front is very important.’

His aforementioned favourites are, of course, foundational catwomen, to which I would add the Black Widows, Honor Blackman in her black leather catsuit, the look Michelle Pfeiffer paid such loyal tribute to in the movie Catwoman, where she went the extra 500 miles in wet-look PVC. And Liz Hurley in Austin Powers (actually, Liz Hurley in anything).

Apocalypse miaow: Kate Beckinsale, 33, in Underworld: Evolution 2006 

Purr-fection: Diana Rigg in The Avengers, aged 27. When I asked my husband Ivo what the catsuit meant to him, he went a bit misty. ‘Jane Fonda in Barbarella . . . Diana Rigg in The Avengers . . . ‘ he trailed off

Power dressing: Liz Hurley aged 32 in Austin Powers: Man Of Mystery

Buckle up: Uma Thurman in The Avengers movie when she was 28

The traditional catsuit is the Pfeiffer/Blackman catwoman, ie black leather, accessorised with kinky boots.

That is the original iteration of the iconic outfit. This is the look that rolled the pitch for the catsuit, many decades on, to become ‘occasionwear’ today without being too Jonathan Ross Halloween party. Or, heaven forbid, Ann Summers.

I have to say that I’ve never worn a leather or leather-look one and am far too old to try that now without frightening the horses or embarrassing my sons.

I have, however, a non-X-rated one in navy I once broke out for an awards ceremony. I was quite relieved I didn’t win as it was a button-through one that was a bit too small for me and by the end of a long evening and three-course dinner, accompanied by free flowing wines, some of the buttons were popping open and I was glad I didn’t have to clamber up and parade on stage.

The traditional catsuit is the Pfeiffer/Blackman catwoman, ie black leather, accessorised with kinky boots. Pictured: Michelle Pfeiffer was 38 when she starred in Catwoman

I have to say that I’ve never worn a leather or leather-look one and am far too old to try that now without frightening the horses or embarrassing my sons. Pictured: 31-year-old space kitten Jane Fonda in Barbarella

Galore-ious: Honor Blackman aged 38 in the 1960s TV show The Avengers

Pictured: Marianne Faithfull, aged 22, in Girl On A Motorcycle

I maintain that if you pick a sturdy, well-constructed one, with a zip (very important), they seem to suit most people.

They are skin-tight and all-revealing and that, my friends, is the whole point.

They suit the skinny (singer P. J. Harvey once wore a red catsuit at Glastonbury) and the less skinny (Serena Williams wore a black Nike number at the French Open). I rest my case.

Forgive the animal metaphor — unavoidable when it comes to this premier garment — but the Black Widow trio follow in a fine tradition of foxy fillies.

Cancel all plans, then. Abort all missions. The catsuit is back — with a vengeance.

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