(This is part 1 of a 5 part series originally published on Artists Beware)
A fursuit is an animal-themed costume that partially or wholly covers the body. The headpiece (mask), completely covers the entire face, with few exceptions. Often, fursuits are “real life” representations of a person’s fursona or animal-themed (furry) original character. They can be any non-human species. Fursuits are the most visible part of the furry fandom, but they are not required to own – or even be liked – to participate in the furry community.
This guide lists the most common types, styles, and padding used in fursuits. It is not a comprehensive list.
Types of Fursuits
A “fullsuit” is short for “full-body fursuit” and is used to identify fursuits which cover the entire body. There is no human skin showing while wearing a fullsuit.
“Partial” is short for “partial fursuit,” and is the most common type of fursuit. It has many variations, which each have their own specific names that fall under the umbrella term “partial.” If a fursuit is anything less than a fullsuit, then it can be called a partial.
The most common type of partial is one consisting of a head (mask), paws, and a tail. But partials can also consist of the following:
- Only a head, or
- A head and a tail, or
- A head and only handpaws (gloves), or
- A head and only feetpaws (boots), or
- A head, and both sets of paws, or
- any combination thereof
Full Partial (also called a 3/4 suit)
A full partial is typically a partial with a head, a tail, and both sets of paws, with sleeves. This type of partial does not cover the torso and typically does not cover the thighs. It is used as a way to wear less clothes while still not wearing a fullsuit.
It is especially useful for the wearer to be able to wear shorts and short-sleeved shirts without showing human skin. It rarely has padding.
Half Partial (also called a halfsuit)
A half partial is a fullsuit without the torso area. Or, thought of in another way, it is a halfsuit with the full legs. It typically gives the appearance of a fullsuit that is wearing a shirt. It is usually, but not always, used for digitigrade characters instead of a full partial.
Kigurumi (also called Kigu)
“Kigurumi” (着ぐるみ) is a Japanese term referring to a costumed character, but often refers specifically to a type of one-piece pajama with an animal theme. These adult-sized “onesies” gained popularity outside of Japan and the idea has been co-opted by fursuit makers as an alternative for heavier, hotter, more movement-restricting, and expensive fursuits. Today, there are some makers who make only custom kigurumi, and furries can commission a kigu of their own design. Some people wear them as they are, others pair kigus with other fursuit items, as a fursuit body stand-in or additional costume piece.
Kigurumi are technically not fursuits and are in their own category of furry fashion. But since they are so closely related to fursuits, somewhat common, and the process of purchasing one is very similar to that of a fursuit commission, they are also covered by this guide.
“Quadsuit” is a short-hand term for “quadraped fursuit.”
While traditional fursuits always depict an anthropomorphized character who usually walks on two legs, the quadsuit is meant to completely mask the human wearer and depict a “feral” four-legged animal instead. Quadsuits are extremely rare to commission, and are frequently made by the person intending to wear them.
Styles and Padding of Fursuits
Toony costumes are meant to look like walking cartoon characters. They usually have large eyes, animated expressions, and bright fur colors. Toony costumes are meant to look like walking cartoon characters. They usually have large eyes, animated expressions, and bright fur colors.
Realistic costumes are meant to look like real-life living and breathing animals. They usually have resin eyes with vision through the tear ducts and natural fur colors.
- Semi-Toony / Semi-Realistic
This style combines features of realistic and toony costumes to give its own unique look. It is referred to as “Real/Toon Hybrid” on the FursuitReview website and in reviews.
- Kemono / Kemo
A very distinct toony style modeled after the anime and manga of Japan. Costumes in this style usually have large dome eyes, tiny mouths, and small bodies with large paws.
Digitigrade padding, often shortened to “digi,” refers to costumes with legs and/or feet that have been padded to give the appearance that the wearer is walking on their toes, similar to how many animals’ legs are formed.
Plantigrade, or “planti” is a lack of padding in the legs/feet of a costume. Since humans are plantigrade (walk on the flats of our feet), there is usually no need to add anything to create the illusion of plantigrade locomotion.
Muscle padding is a specific stylistic choice made in order to bulk out a costume, giving the wearer the appearance of large muscles, much like if they were to wear a muscle suit.
Plush padding is done with the intent to create the illusion that the costume is a large stuffed toy. These costumes are generally rotund with shortened limbs and large hands and/or feet. Often, a costume with this padding also contains visible stitching, seams, and/or zippers as stylistic choices to complete the “toy” illusion.