From "Secret Skin," Michael Chabon's "essay in unitard theory" in the March 10 New Yorker:
"To suit my purpose here, I might construct a similar etiology of the superhero costume, making due reference, say, to professional-wrestling and circus attire of the early twentieth century, to the boots-cloak-and-tights ensembles worn by swashbucklers and cavaliers in stage plays and Hollywood films, to contemporary men’s athletic wear, with its unitard construction and belted trunks, to the designs of Alex Raymond and Hal Foster and the amazing pulp-magazine cover artist Frank R. Paul."
etiology noun [from the Greek aitologia]
1. cause, origin; specif: all of the causes of a disease or abnormal condition,
2. a branch of knowledge dealing with causes