AKA: high-necked swimsuit

How to say it: kat-soot

Traditional Features: 


  • high neck
  • may have a small mandarin style collar
  • covered back
  • zip closure at centre back
  • racer-back armholes

21st Century Catsuits

In the 21st, the catsuit seems to be firmly rooted in the sportswear realm, with brands like Nike or Speedo the only ones really making the style anymore. Having said that, similar styles are popping up in the fashion swimwear market and there are high-necked, full backed styles available for those who want them.

Cover JETS by Jessika Allen

Cover, JETS by Jessika Allen

Lisa Marie Fernandez Next

Lisa Marie Fernandez, NEXT


…of the style: Interestingly, I could not find a single mention of a catsuit swimsuit anywhere. But I know they existed because I had one!

From what I remember, they were pretty ‘cool’ (to my 11-year-old self anyway) in the mid to late 90s – my high school swim team wore them and I have vague memories of swimmers in the 1996 Olympics wearing them too.

While I am pretty sure my catsuit was a ‘fashion’ style – it was all cute and floral, it seems that the catsuit, with its high neck, zipper opening at the centre back and tight fit, was most popular in the sportswear realm. And this is where it seems to have stayed.

In the 21st century, the big sportswear brands do still make a catsuit style swimsuit, although it is often marketed towards water polo, and other water sports, rather than swimming (perhaps due to the rules surrounding apparel in high-level competitive swimming – no zippers allowed). However, concerns over sun cancer are slowly bringing higher-coverage swimsuits back into the fashion swimwear market and catsuit-esque suits can be found for those women who wish to look for them.

…of the name: I couldn’t find an explanation behind the name, but the definition of a catsuit (outside of swimwear) is a “tight-fitting, one-piece garment that covers the torso and legs…” so maybe the name came from there?

There isn’t any further information on the Catsuit that I could find, this post is based entirely on my memories from the mid-late 1990s. If anyone has any better info, I would love to hear it!

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