Sensual Spandex

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/iceskatespandex_3834.jpg
Maybe second place ain't that bad.
At least there's a nice view.

"By the way, it's cool that it's red and all, but what pervert designed this suit? It's a bit revealing!"

For some reason, sports in both Real Life and in fiction tend to feature quite an expanse of revealed flesh — or flesh not revealed, in artful ways. This trope is where Stripperific meets the sporting arena, where audiences are equally likely to tune in for the Fanservice and the actual sport itself.

This is a justified in situations where an outfit providing more coverage or concealment would be impractical in other ways. Sports such as gymnastics fall into the coverage without concealment category, as less form-fitting clothing would be restrictive, distracting, or get caught in the equipment while less coverage would exposed the athletes to friction burns. In sports that prioritize the speed of the human body in motion, such as track and field, uniforms tend to provide minimal coverage and are cut to follow natural creases of the human body to avoid restriction and chafing. Conversely, sports that involve speeds high enough to make air resistance a factor such as speedskating tend to minimize the amount of exposed surface area to reduce drag. One of the few fanservice tropes that is often applied equally to both sexes.

Compare Form-Fitting Wardrobe, Leotard of Power, Walking Swimsuit Scene, Superheroes Wear Tights.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gunbuster seems to have these, though they're not that different from gym uniforms in other anime.
  • The artist of He Is My Master decided instead of the typical bloomers that are seen in 99% of anime, she would do spatz — essentially skintight shorts. In one omake (author's comment at the end of a book) she points out that she did it because with the screentone in manga, she can essentially draw the girls bottomless and get away with it.
  • Most of the characters in Hikari No Densetsu, which is totally justified since this is a manga/anime about rhythmic gymnastics.
  • Mostly the females in Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. Clothing of choice in the future.
  • A part of the standard performance costumes in Kaleido Star.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Miu's fighting uniform is ridiculously skintight.
  • This is regularly played up for gymnast Makie in Mahou Sensei Negima!.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Plugsuits. Justified by the Unusual User Interface the Evangelions use, and the standard-issue design isn't that heavy on the Fanservice by the standards of this trope. They're also literally vacuum sealed with a control on the wrist and we see them baggy before this is activated, making their tightness justified. The experimental variant that shows up in the second Rebuild OVA, on the other hand, appears to have gone on to inspire the outfits from Kill la Kill.
  • Melpha from Queen's Blade wears two layers of clothing. A dress and underneath it, a skintight unitard that may as well be a second skin. Despite fully covering her massive chest she still has cleavage.
  • Similar to the Numbers, pretty much every female in SoltyRei aside from the Elegant Lolita.
  • When a Witchblade doesn't render you near-naked, it's this instead.

    Comics 
  • Nearly every single superhero/heroine that isn't wearing full body armor or normal street clothes dresses in this. It's also somewhat of a case of a justified trope, especially those who are brawlers (hard to grab hold of, if not wearing a cape) or rely on flexibility and agility (there's a reason that gymnasts wear it). That's not to say that functionality is the only reason, though...
  • Diabolik uses the trope (even if at least the original suit is described as made of silk), and the above justification that it's harder to grab hold of. In fact, Diabolik came up with that suit because it's harder to grab than the ninja-like outfit he was using when studying martial arts.

    Fan Works 

    Film 
  • Ghost in the Shell: The Major's distinctive form fitting white optical camouflage suit puts her body on full display, though the actual costume was made out of latex in order to conceal the parts of Scarlett Johansson's anatomy the Major's cybernetic body is supposed to lack. The sensual aspect is provided by a network of subtle surface details and incised lines that imply and accentuate the cybernetic mechanisms and access panels that supposedly lie underneath.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Gladiators. And on that note, American Gladiators. Especially the revival (Hello, Crush!).
  • Early morning workout shows. Back in the 90s there were a whole slew of them on ESPN, and they featured girls (and sometimes a few guys) doing exercises. While wearing spandex.
  • Occasionally, the Star Trek series combines this with Future Spandex. In the case of Seven of Nine from Voyager, it's given a Hand Wave as somehow medical because of her de-Borgification. Deanna Troi from The Next Generation has the reasoning that she wears the her outfit to give her patients (as she's the Councilor onboard the Enterprise) a chance to relate to someone outside the uniform. This lasts all of five seasons, though. However, T'Pol from Enterprise goes unexplained. There are also some male characters (although usually a guest star) who wear one-piece suits tight enough to bulge.
    • Perhaps most obvious in the TNG episode, Legacy. The Enterprise crew meets their deceased crewmate's sister. When they meet her, she's wearing a utilitarian leather jacket, shirt, and pants. For some reason, when she starts working with the Enterprise crew, they put her in spandex.

    Manhua 

    Music Videos 
  • Eric Prydz, "Call on Me".

    Pinball 
  • All of the skiiers in Sega's Sapporo wear full-body ski suits that cling to them completely.

    Sports 
  • It seems that Real Life female track-and-field athletes' competition outfits are getting progressively skimpier.
    • Ironically, the low-friction modern competitive swimwear is now much more concealing than many female track-and-field costumes.
  • Gymnastics itself, as noted above, is one of the more explicit examples of this trope for both men and women.
  • Beach volleyball.
    • To a lesser extent, volleyball in general.
  • Professional (American) football players wear tight-fitting trousers and usually tight jerseys as well. This is because a player can be legally tackled by someone grabbing their clothes.
    • Though really only their rear-ends and parts of the leg are truly skintight. Most of the rest of the body is padded.
  • In the world of tennis, Wimbledon has limits on just how "unrestrictively" the ladies can dress.
  • Swimwear, of most sorts for women. And for men too, except men's trunks, but there are the jammers, and if you leave the U.S., "Speedo" briefs become popular.
    • It's worth pointing out that in the U.S., "Speedo" has become a catch-all term for a particular style of briefs, which is not entirely accurate, since similar briefs are manufactured by Nike, truWest, Turbo, Tyr, Dolfin, Arena, Kiefer, and Adidas, to name a few. In Australia, however, where Speedo's headquarters are, the style is called a budgie smuggler because it looks like you're trying to smuggle a small bird in your briefs.
  • Speed Skating and Short Track.
  • Averted with fencing, in which the outfits are there to provide protection from the impact of the full weight of the other person flying down the strip at you concentrated into an area of less than a square centimeter.
  • Bikram yoga or any derivation thereof. When the room's 115 degrees and 100% humidity, you want as little clothing as possible and what there is should be skintight to wick it away from your skin.
  • Amateur wrestlers are required to wear a skintight bodysuit called a singlet to avoid giving an opponent a handful of fabric to grab onto to get leverage. Adding to this is the fact that wrestlers can get into some... awkward positions while competing.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Shadowrun book Arsenal describes a product line by Zoé called "Second Skin," which "provides protection, comfort, and style for open-minded people." It's a custom-tailored, skin-tight armored bodysuit that comes in either opaque or transparent.

    Theater 
  • Mimi Marquez in RENT. Any rendition of the play. Particularly for the song "Out Tonight".
  • One Los Angeles production of Twelfth Night set in the modern day had an... unusual interpretation of Malvolio's "Cross-gartered yellow stockings." Yellow spandex. Fortunately he was a fairly good-looking fella, otherwise...
  • One word: Cats. Naturally, the female characters combine this with being Catgirls... sort of.

    Video Games 
  • Taki from the Soul Series. Outfits in this series tend to take this trope Up to Eleven.
  • Chloe from Tales of Legendia.
  • The Dark Suit Riku from Kingdom Hearts dons once he pulls a Face–Heel Turn. Vanitas has one too.
  • Vanessa from P.N.03.
  • The female cleric from Dragon Quest III is sometimes depicted dressed in an orange spandex bodysuit.
  • A good number of the mooks in The Bouncer are wearing skin-tight spandex outfits, presumably because they're supposed to have Ninja training. Their leader Mugetsu also wears one. If you follow Koh's path when the heroes split up, he dons one of these outfits as well to disguise himself.
  • Zero Suit Samus, especially in the Super Smash Bros. games.
  • Tracer, D.Va and Widowmaker from Overwatch most certainly apply. Mercy might be another candidate, but doesn't show that much thanks to her dress.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe, it is the stock 'beginner' super-suit at Superhero School Whateley Academy. The school provides a variety of basic colors, including white and gray and black.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Gymnastics Leotards are the prime example: The suits have to be form-fitting to avoid snagging on the equipment, but anything less than full coverage from shoulders to crotch would not stay in place. Women tend to wear full sleeves for the same reason, and both sexes benefit from protection from friction burns and built-in support in appropriate areas.
  • Track and Field, on the other hand, argues for minimalism, particularly in the sprint events: singlets and briefs cut to follow the natural lines of the human body to minimize weight and maximize cooling tend to be the rule.
  • Full-body swimsuits. While they don't expose as much skin, they still do tend to be form-fitting—form-compressing, in some cases. The advent of high-tech drag resisting fabrics inspired the International Swimming Federation to set limits on the maximum amount of swimsuit coverage allowed to prevent swimming from turning into a technology battle like auto racing.
  • Figure Skating is an aversion, with minimum coverage requirements for men and women, which the competitors often finesse using strategically placed flesh-colored panels.
  • Played with by the recent vogue for compression wear to reinforce and stabilize muscles, which can either enforce or subvert this trope depending upon how the materials are patterned.
  • "Leggings as pants". The look certainly has its opponents.
  • And of course the trope image - speed skating outfits. Although technically not spandex (they're made of different material), they have the same effect. Somewhat unique in this trope as this applies to both male and female athletes. Further emphasized by the fact that speed skaters tend to have very well developed thighs and rear ends and, well, the sport demands they spend much of their time in the position illustrated above. Bonus points when a team orders unexpectedly sheer or light-colored outfits without first actually seeing what they do when put on a well-formed human body under fluorescent lights...


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