Sensual Spandex

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, but 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.

Can be justified in some situations, where an outfit providing more covering would be impractical in other ways. Sports such as gymnastics fall into this category, as less tight-fitting and skimpy clothes would be potentially restrictive, distracting, or get caught in the equipment. Likewise sports that prioritize speed of the human body in motion, such as various kinds of racing, tend to minimize the surface area on clothing 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.


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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.
  • Female!Ranma and Kodachi wear tight, bottom (and bosom)-hugging leotards in Ranma 's Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics tournament. Akane also wore one during training, but didn't get to compete.
  • Most of the characters in Hikari No Densetsu, which is totally justified since this is a manga/anime about rhythmic gymnastics.
  • A part of the standard performance costumes in Kaleido Star.
  • This is regularly played up for gymnast Makie in Mahou Sensei Negima!
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Miu. So much.
  • When a Witchblade doesn't render you near-naked, it's this instead.
  • Similar to the Numbers, pretty much every female in Solty Rei aside from the Elegant Lolita.
  • Mostly the females in Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon.
  • 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.

  • 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.

    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 and T'Pol from Enterprise go 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.


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

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

  • It seems that Real Life female athletes competition outfits are getting progressively skimpier.
    • Ironically, the low-friction modern competitive swimwear is more concealing than the a number of the outfits for the female athletes.
  • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Shadowrun book Arsenal describes a product line by Zo 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.

  • 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 

    Web Comics 
  • Uryuom workers uniforms in El Goonish Shive are this. Since they are designed for humanoid Shapeshifting aliens, they are extremely form-fitting yet as comfortable as underwear. Ellen even notes that it is almost sensual.
  • Hwa Ryun's battle suit and mask outfit in Tower of God's Crown Game.

    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 
  • Full-body swimsuits. While they don't expose as much skin, they still do tend to be form-fitting—form-compressing, in some cases.
  • "Leggings as pants". Are there laws against this in certain areas? There's a whole facebook page as well as a site dedicated to hating that look.
  • 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...