Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Figure Suits

One of the most important parts of a Figure/Bodybuilding show is the suit. After all the time spent in the gym, on the treadmill, and out of restaurants, the actual show is when competitors really shine and strut their stuff on stage. In Figure, especially, part of the judging score is on presentation, which includes stage presence, hair, makeup, and suit.

It never ceases to amaze me how much money, time, and work are put into transforming those tiny scraps of material into sparkling, shimmering masterpieces. Figure suits aren't something you can just walk into a store and purchase; most of the time, they're custom made according to a woman's exact measurements. Some suitmakers offer off-the-rack options that are sold with bags of rhinestones for a DIY project. While this may be a bargain option, it's usually not an option at the National and Pro levels.

Plain, off-the-rack suit, sold with a set of crystals for the competitor to put on herself

The price of the suit increases with the number of crystals on it. Most Pro-level suits are all blinged out and often have over a thousand Swarovski crystals on them. While off-the-rack suits start at about $80, Pro suits start at about $600 and up. Many Pro suits are over $1,000. Yes, I said $1,000!

This is one of my Pro-level suits. Mary Elizabeth Lado wore it when she won the 2008 Arnold.

A good option for ladies to get quality suits for a good price is to either buy them on consignment, buy them used from other competitors, or rent them. I've bought most of my suits used and paid a fraction of the original cost. Competitors normally wear suits for a year or two before selling them or buying a new one. Wearing a different suit brings a fresh stage presence and a new look.

When selecting a suit, it's important to take both suit cut and color into consideration. I've actually heard judges make comments about suit color and how it either enhances or detracts from the woman's body.

If you order a custom-made suit, expect it to take 6-8 weeks to make, so make sure you order it well in advance of your show. A good rule of thumb is to tell the suitmaker that the date of your show is a week earlier than the actual date. No, I'm not encouraging you to lie; I'm just trying to help you have some peace of mind and less stress before the show. :) Some suitmakers will send you swatches of fabric and have actual fittings as they make your suit.

Any questions about suits? Lemme know - I'm more than happy to answer!


  1. Very informative, thank you Kari :)

  2. do you have any good website suggestions for bikini competition suits?

  3. I wish I read your last suggestion before I competed. The suit maker fedexed the suit to me Wednesday night before my show, when I had to travel all day Friday to get there. I was getting my nails done and had to rush to get to fed ex before they closed. Then when I got home, the suit did not have the plastic hooks sewn in that connect the top to the bottom. Now add the emotional state of three days before my first show and I'm sure you can imagine the meltdown!

  4. @Michele - www.swimsuitsyouwear.com, www.chynnadolls.com ... I may have spelled those wrong, since I can't look them up at work. :)

    @Leah - OMG, I'm so sorry you had to experience that!