We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Leotard?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Musical Expert is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Musical Expert, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A leotard is a snug fitting exercise and performance garment that covers the body from the shoulders to the top of the thighs. A number of performers including dancers, ice skaters, acrobats, and other circus performers wear this garment. The 1980s were really the heyday of the leotard, coming in to pop culture through movies and dance trends, and were popular exercise wear during that time. The garment comes in a wide range of colors, and can be decorated for performances with contrasting colored panels, sequins, rhinestones, and other accents. In ballet performance, many dance companies wear standardized leotards, so that they do not distract the audience.

Many consumers have observed that a leotard resembles a one piece bathing suit, and it was in fact the inspiration for the modern garment. It was designed by Jules Léotard, a French trapeze artist who performed in the 1800s. During his lifetime, he called it a maillot, a French word which is now used to refer to a swimming suit. In the late 1800s, the term “leotard” began to replace “maillot,” in honor of the garment's inventor. The garments became popular for dancers in the 20th century, once they realized the potential for freedom of movement that the leotard allows.

Most performers do not wear a leotard alone. At a minimum, it will be worn with tights, but it is common to wear a tutu around the waist as well to obscure the groin area and upper thighs. For most performances, an armless one will be worn, although companies also manufacture them with half or full sleeves as well. In rehearsal, many dancers wear leg warmers with their leotards to prevent muscle cramping and soreness.

The elastic material in a leotard allows it to fit snugly to the form of the wearer. For this reason, care should be taken when maintaining the garments to keep the material stretchy and in good shape. Most come with care tags that will detail how they should be handled, but as a general rule, they should be hand washed if possible, or washed inside out on a gentle machine cycle on cold. In both cases, a leotard should be hung to dry, and if it is multi-colored, the pale colored sections should be hung above the dark ones to minimize color bleeding. If it has sequins, metallic threads, and other similar decorations, it should always be hand washed in cold water.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Musical Expert researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By chrisworkout — On Apr 30, 2013

Did you folks also know that the leotard was and still is used for exercise? Both men and women have worn leotards for aerobics since the 70s, maybe before. Leotards became much more popular in the 80s when Jazzercise and Jane Fonda took the aerobics craze to the next level and when workout home videos were booming.

As one of those gentlemen who loves aerobics and has been doing it since I was a kid back in the 80s, I always wore leotards and now I have so many that people tell me that I must have the largest collection of them and any aerobic workout wear. I even have lots of leg warmers!

I appreciate you folks posting this article on my favorite piece of clothing on here!

By julies — On Jun 09, 2012

The dance leotards with the clear adjustable straps are a life saver. You still have straps, but because they are clear, the audience cannot see them when you are performing.

My niece is in dance and every year we look forward to her recital. She has several leotards with these clear straps. It seems like every year the costumes get a little bit more elaborate. I don't know how much money my sister spends on dance costumes every year, but I bet it is a lot.

I think most every dance outfit starts out with a leotard though. It has been years since I wore one of these. I think I have too many bumps and bulges for something like this to be very comfortable. I will stick with my loose t-shirts and sweat pants.

By Mykol — On Jun 09, 2012

I wear a simple Danskin leotard when I am doing my yoga. For me, this is the most comfortable thing I have found. I will also wear some yoga pants over the leotard. There are days when I am just hanging around the house when I might keep this on most of the day.

They sell turtleneck leotards with long sleeves that are perfect on cold days. I don't like baggy clothes, but also don't like clothes that are tight and restrictive. A leotard is the perfect combination since it fits close to my body, but yet I still feel like I can breathe.

By sunshined — On Jun 09, 2012

My girls grow so fast that I have to buy new leotards much sooner than they wear out. For this reason, I usually just wash the plain leotards like all their other clothes.

The leotards that have sequins and special embellishments are the ones that I have to take special care with. It seems like a black leotard is pretty standard for many of the girls in their classes.

If you have more than one child involved in these activities, it can get pretty expensive to buy special dance clothes all the time. One of my friends opened up a small consignment shop and many of her items are dance clothes. This is a great way to buy some of these items without paying full price for them.

By John57 — On Jun 08, 2012

My daughter is in gymnastics and dance, so we have no shortage of leotards around our house. They come in just about as many colors and styles as you could want.

In the winter, she will wear a long sleeve leotard which helps keep her warm without restricting her movement. If she has a performance or a recital, they usually all wear the same color leotard.

When she is at practice and can choose which leotard she wants to wear, she usually always goes with a bright color like pink or purple. I don't usually go to the bother of hand washing them, but just throw them in the washer with other clothes of similar color.

I usually don't put them in the dryer though. It seems like they will hold their shape longer if I just let them air dry. Once in awhile I forget and they get put in the dryer. It doesn't really do any damage, they just will lose their shape faster.

By anon4286 — On Oct 11, 2007

thanks, wisegeek!

I learned a thing, and refreshed knowledge on two more, on this subject.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.