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February 22, 2019 3 min read

A wetsuit is a piece of clothing that is normally made of neoprene and it is worn by people engaged in water sports: canoeists, divers, surfers and windsurfers. Initially wetsuits were primarily designed for men and any woman who wanted to do water sports would have been forced to wear a wetsuit that was designed to fit a man! This involved putting on too much fabric around their shoulders instead of having it around their hips. This design did not have any sexist connotations, but simply because the market forces were driven by men who were leading in the number of people participating in water sports. Fortunately things have changed: more women are taking up water sports and there is a great variety of wetsuits that are designed for women in order for them to stay warm while engaging in water sports.     

 

Purposes of Wearing a Wetsuit:   

Provide insulation against low temperatures.      

Give buoyancy and protection from cuts.     

The material making up the suit has bubbles of air enclosed: air is a poor conductor of heat and has low density hence the insulation and buoyancy properties of the wet suit.    

 

The following aspects show the differences between women and men wetsuits:     

 

Cut 

The anatomy of a woman is different from that of a man and hence a wetsuit has to take this into account. A woman's body shape has narrow shoulders and wide hips. To suit a woman's shape, womens wetsuits  are cut in such a manner so as to be wider at the thighs and hips and to some extent narrower around the shoulders. In terms of fabric a woman's wetsuit will have more fabric around the chest (over the breasts), thighs, and hips than around the shoulders. The opposite applies for men, since their body shape is broad shoulders and narrow hips then mens wetsuit will have more fabric around the shoulders than around the hips.

 

Design and Color  

The initial design was such that black was used for both women and men wetsuit; the only feature to distinguish the two was a flower or pink line that was reflected on women's design. Nowadays the design has taken into account the different tastes of women. There are a variety of colors and designs that have been made and can be perceived as feminine from a distance.      

 

Distinctive Features       

As more and more women take up water sports there are distinctive features for men and women: wetsuits for women place weight on outward appearance and functionality whilst that for men is based on function rather than appearance. Another aspect is that the most advanced, flexible, high performance wetsuits that incorporate the latest technology are bound to be found in men's design than women, which is simply because men tend to have a fancy for extreme water sports than women who have a penchant for pleasant color.  

 

Conclusion     

Maybe you are asking whether there is a unisex model or a woman can wear a mens wetsuit. First there are no unisex models although modern wetsuits are designed to be flexible so that they can adapt to your body shape. Second the anatomy of the wearer dictates it all. There are women who are slender and have a small chest that they can fit into a men's design. But most women have feminine features (wide hips and narrow shoulders) and thus a female wetsuit is a necessity.

Liz H.
Liz H.


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