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Every so often, we're faced with some tricky fashion questions that have us wanting to phone a friend. Consider our column Ask an Expert that friend, turning to the experts — designers, stylists and other fashion professionals — to address your sartorial thoughts, comments and concerns.

The writing's been on the wall for a while, but it seems like the time has come: Catsuits are going mainstream. 

"Catsuits in general I love — I love a long glove, I love a long turtleneck, I love when a catsuit covers the entire foot," says Jared Eng. "I feel like it's very editorial, and I love doing more editorial looks on the red carpet."

Joey King, styled by Jared Eng in an Et Ochs catsuit.

Joey King, styled by Jared Eng in an Et Ochs catsuit.

Indeed, there have been plenty of examples of that as of late, from Kim Kardashian in literal head-to-toe Balenciaga at the Met Gala (not to mention, Simone Biles, Maisie Williams, Olivia Rodrigo, Nia Dennis and Ella Emhoff walking the same carpet in their own high-fashion onesies) to Priyanka Chopra Jonas in full Richard Quinn at the Fashion Awards to Dua Lipa on her "Future Nostalgia" tour. Celebrities have been wearing catsuits in their off time, too: In the past year alone, we've seen Lizzo, Beyoncé, Cardi B and Julia Fox in the formfitting garment, as have plenty of sartorial tastemakers on Instagram and at fashion week. 

Catsuits had already been gaining momentum on the runway and in street style, thanks largely to brands across the fashion month schedule — from Mugler to LaQuan Smith, Marine Serre to Richard Quinn, Saint Laurent to Collina Strada, Balenciaga to KNWLS — proposing them collection after collection. (They've even been a source of controversy, as was the case of Serena Williams' Nike catsuit from the 2018 French Open.)

It seems like in 2022, the broader public is receiving the message. As Tiffany Hsu, Vice President Womenswear & Kidswear Buying at Mytheresa (a.k.a. @handinfire on Instagram), puts it: "The key this season is bodycon."

A showgoer in a Prada catsuit during Milan Fashion Week.

A showgoer in a Prada catsuit during Milan Fashion Week.

"Catsuits are the perfect balance of [having] coverage but still being sexy. You have your entire covered and still 'show skin,' because you're showing all your curves," Eng says. However, he concedes, they can also be challenging, depending on what your comfort level is with wearing something meant to be skin-tight.

"You have to figure out what you're trying to balance when you're wearing a catsuit," he says. "With the clients that I've styled, it's not just a catsuit — it's usually a catsuit with a voluminous skirt or trench coat or a puffy vest."

Ahead, Hsu and Eng lay out the four cardinal rules the catsuit-curious should follow to make the garment their own. 

Play with proportion

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To start off, it helps to go straight to the source. Hsu suggests turning to the runway for inspiration — specifically, Saint Laurent Spring 2022

"I like how [the brand] styled the catsuit with strong shoulder jackets. I think it makes it a little less obvious, but still keeps the body-hugging silhouette on the hip and legs," she says. "Wearing a belt is also a great way to break it up, especially when you don’t feel so comfortable with a full bodycon look."

Outerwear can be key in this equation. Hsu recommends adding a trench coat for daytime wear; if you have a knit catsuit, try wearing it "with a big puffer or a heavy wool coat combined with chunky boots." Eng echoes these suggestions, noting that the goal should be to create shape: "You can pair it with a wool trench that cinches at the waist and flares out, or add a cropped puffer or vest for volume up top."

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Layer, layer, layer

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Eng has styled a range of clients in different catsuits, always using it as a sort of base layer to build an outfit from. 

"With Soko, for instance, we did a Marine Serre black-and-red catsuit with a huge, voluminous Cinq à Sept dress," he says. "It didn't cover up the catsuit completely, but you could see the entire sleeve and it brings a totally different look to layering." 

Similarly, Eng dressed Chelsea Lopez in sheer mesh separates under a mini dress, all by Shuting Qiu, creating the look of a floral-printed catsuit that made the lime green top layer really pop. 

Consider the print

Lizzo in Richard Quinn.

Lizzo in Richard Quinn.

A lot of the most striking examples of catsuits we've seen on the runway and from the big designer houses — from Prada and Valentino to Richard Quinn and KNWLS — bear graphic prints all over. Naturally, they make for big statements. You can either wear them solo (like Lizzo did) or you can layer them under a solid, turning them into a contrasting base layer. 

When she wore one of Prada's fully printed styles, Hsu decided to keep it simple, adding only a solid trench coat. "As the catsuit is so graphic, I thought it would be good to break it up with a bit of somewhat classic," she says, noting that she opted for platform boots to "elongate the body." 

Hsu's not against doubling up on the patterns, though: "I would also love to style another geographic pattern on top maybe, like an oversized bomber or shirt. Pattern on pattern is a thing!"

"You could do print on print on print, or you could do print with a solid block color, the color-blocking with the catsuit," says Eng. "There are so many more ways that we could be delving into catsuits in the future, whether it's colorblocking the gloves or just the legs."

Be mindful of the material

"I like both Lycra and knitted catsuits," Hsu says. "Lycra is more evening, and is great with heels and big jewelry. The knitted ones you can perfectly wear from day into night, with boots or heels and a good structured blazer or jacket."

Eng is also particular about the fabrication: "The material of the catsuit shouldn't look like an '80s workout video," he says. "With Joey [King's] Richard Quinn look (above), the catsuit was made out of velvet and had a bit of sheen to it, which worked well on the carpet. Shuting Qiu (below), it was a sheer mesh. Soko's was a bit more of a Spandex, but almost like an expensive Spandex. I would just make sure you have that eye, to ensure it looks expensive, even if it's not."

In addition to the material, Eng recommends really thinking about necklines, color and whether the catsuit has any embellishments or add-ons. "You don’t want something with a zipper down the middle that looks like a motocross outfit," he says. "There are ways to make it dressy." 

"You want to see what features you feel confident with… Fashion's all about putting your best assets forward, so you want to accentuate those parts of your body with the catsuit.

Shop some of our favorite catsuits on the market in the gallery, below.

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