leotard rankings

Leotard Rankings: 2019 Season

It was an outstanding season when it came to leotards. We got some of the most stunning designs we’ve ever seen before, and some teams really stepped up their game from the past. While we ranked new designs each week, we thought it would be a good idea to look at the 2019 leos as a whole and narrow it down to each of our favorites. What were your top leos from this season?


  1. Michigan State (conference champs)
  2. William & Mary (week four)
  3. Temple (week eight)
  4. Utah (week eight)
  5. Arkansas (week four)
  6. SEMO (week one)
  7. Arizona (week four)
  8. Rutgers (week eight)
  9. Oregon State (week five)
  10. Nebraska (NCAA semifinals)

Honorable mentions: California (regionals), Georgia (conference champs), Denver (week four), BYU (week two)

This was HARD, guys. My initial cull brought 32 leos that was then narrowed down to 14 before I finally solidified my top 10. But I did know my top two from the start. While I normally gravitate toward some sort of red and/or black combo, the emerald green and white designs were too gorgeous to pass up and took gold and silver. MSU only won out over W&M due to my preference for matte fabric over shiny. Then the rest are on the list thanks to ombre, unique backs and otherwise classy designs.

Mary Emma

  1. Illinois (week four)
  2. Pittsburgh (week three)
  3. Michigan State (conference champs)
  4. Temple (week eight)
  5. William & Mary (week four)
  6. Kentucky (week three)
  7. West Virginia (regionals)
  8. Penn (week two)
  9. Denver (week six)
  10. Oregon State (national semi-finals)

Honorable mentions: Auburn (week one), New Hampshire (week 10), California (conference champs), Florida (conference champs), Temple (regionals), Bridgeport (USAGs)

Picking my top nine was pretty easy, but I went back and forth between a lot of different leos for the last spot (hence the somewhat large number of honorable mentions). I knew immediately which would be my No. 1, as I loved it from the second I saw it in Illinois’ sneak preview a few weeks before its debut. I like it slightly better than Pitt’s and Michigan State’s because I really can’t find a single thing to be picky about. It’s basically perfection, and it proves that good looking orange leos do exist! It’s pretty clear from my choices that my favorite leo design is ombre, but a couple of them (Penn and Denver) are very different from what I would normally look for in a leo. I guess wacky patterns are starting to grow on me.

Emily M

  1. Utah (week seven)
  2. Michigan State (conference champs)
  3. Iowa (week seven)
  4. UC Davis (week two)
  5. Michigan (week 10)
  6. Oregon State (week five)
  7. Illinois (week six)
  8. William & Mary (week four)
  9. LSU (national finals)
  10. Auburn (regionals)

OK this was hard! There were so many great leos this year. I had a lot of trouble culling this to 10! Honorable mention to the Utah Salt Lake City leo which I love but dropped off the list to get to 10. Props to Auburn and Illinois for making blue and orange leotards that are beautiful; not an easy task. Also, is it obvious that I love a great monochromatic look? Because I really do. I honestly adore all of those top four. The only tiny thing that puts Utah ahead of Michigan State is the sleeve seam on the Spartans’ leo. It is otherwise perfection. The Utah leo does it for me because of the use of those red and clear sequins. Just stunning.


  1. Auburn (conference champs)
  2. Oklahoma (regional semifinal)
  3. Arizona (week seven)
  4. Illinois (week four)
  5. Rutgers (week eight)
  6. Penn (week two)
  7. Arizona (week four)
  8. Brown (week three)
  9. North Carolina (week three)
  10. Auburn (regional semifinal)

You might have noticed that my leo rankings this season didn’t always go with the group consensus (much to the chagrin of my co-editors). But I stand by my unorthodox decisions, particularly with my top two picks! I get why people didn’t like Oklahoma’s regional leo given how busy it is, but I couldn’t believe the reactions to Auburn’s SEC one weren’t more positive across the board—I am OBSESSED with it, and I’ll take that to the grave! I’m also noticing looking at these picks that, in spite of my relatively low emphasis on school spirit as an important element of the look, many of these are pretty much as spirited as you can get (hey, Rutgers).


  1. Arkansas (week four)
  2. Michigan State (conference champs)
  3. Michigan (week 10)
  4. Temple (week eight)
  5. Missouri (conference champs)
  6. William & Mary (week four)
  7. Utah (week eight)
  8. Oregon State (week five)
  9. UW-Whitewater (week three)
  10. Illinois (week three)

Honorable mentions: Kentucky (week three), Denver (week six), UC Davis (week two)

While my opinion on a few of these leos changed since the first time I saw them, the Perfect 10 I gave Arkansas back in week four held on to first place throughout the entire season! Michigan State and Michigan rounded out my top three thanks to an undeniably gorgeous ombre from MSU at conference championships and a velvet stunner from Michigan. Looking at the rest of my choices, I seemed to gravitate toward the “waistband” and under-the-bust leos that weren’t very popular with my fellow editors but definitely were popular with the teams’ leotard designers this year.


  1. UC Davis (week two)
  2. Rutgers (week eight)
  3. Utah (week eight)
  4. William & Mary (week four)
  5. Temple (week eight)
  6. Georgia (conference champs)
  7. Michigan State (conference champs)
  8. UW-Eau Claire (week four)
  9. Auburn (regionals)
  10. California (regionals)

Honorable mentions: West Virginia (week 14), Penn (week two), Southern Connecticut (week four), Kent State (week six)

I tend to like things much simpler than everyone else, so I have a few on here that I firmly believe were robbed in the weekly rankings. (In fact, only two of my top 10 were weekly winners. A tragedy.) UC Davis’ matte navy is the best leotard in the NCAA right now, and I will fight anyone over it. I fell in love with Rutgers’ Jersey Pride leotard at first sight despite usually being averse to large text or symbols—it’s just so sleek. I also have two pairs of similar leotards ranking high, with Georgia and Utah both rocking the black (my favorite leotard color) with red and white sparkles and Michigan State and William and Mary in green to white ombre. I didn’t love California’s 2019 gear as much as the endless parade of hits it debuted in 2018, but I couldn’t leave its regionals leotard behind.


  1. Michigan State (conference champs)
  2. Oregon State (week five)
  3. LSU (national finals)
  4. Michigan State (week 11)
  5. Oregon State (national semifinals)
  6. Utah (week eight)
  7. Auburn (week one)
  8. Illinois (week six)
  9. Georgia (conference champs),
  10. Florida (week five)

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, I love ombré, a unique back and an elegant look. If you give all three at the same time? You got me. That top five was hard to rank, but this first leo from Michigan State has everything I love so it was an obvious number one. I love a sleek and classy look like the ones from Oregon State, LSU and once more Michigan State. The next five in my rankings are a good mix of one or more of these three big qualities I like to find a design.

Emily HF

  1. Michigan State (conference champs)
  2. Auburn (week one)
  3. Utah (week eight)
  4. LSU (national final)
  5. Oregon State (week five)
  6. UC Davis (week two)
  7. Michigan State (week 11)
  8. SEMO (week one)
  9. Lindenwood (week 11)
  10. Temple (week eight)

Honorable mentions: California (regionals), William & Mary (week four), Denver (week four), Southern Connecticut (week four)

I had two absolutely favorite leos this year, and honestly it wouldn’t take much to sway me either way on No. 1 vs. No. 2—both would have gotten 10s from me had I been rating those weeks. The MSU white to green ombre is just absolutely perfect, the shade of green is gorgeous, ombre sleeves are always a win and the back is unique. The Auburn pink leo from week one is 100 percent the best pink leo that exists. The ombre is perfect, and the detailing of the patterning is just subtle enough to not be overwhelming. Outside of those two I have a very clear type: dark base color with bright color highlights and clean designs, plus a bonus for incorporating a good ombre.


  1. Michigan State (conference champs)
  2. LSU (national final)
  3. Nebraska (national semifinal)
  4. Denver (week four)
  5. Oklahoma (regional semifinal)
  6. William & Mary (week four)
  7. Arkansas (week eight)
  8. Minnesota (week nine)
  9. Ursinus (week six)
  10. Utah (week eight)

This was way harder than you’d expect! If you know me, you know I love ombre, so it’s no surprise that half of these leos incorporate it in some way. Michigan State’s ombre is definitely one of my favorites this season; the ombre and overall design are done so well. I think I’m in the minority opinion on that Oklahoma leo, but I absolutely love it. The balance between the geometrical design, sparkles and red color is stunning. That Denver leo is my favorite of its new ones; I love the balance of fabric, ombre and sparkle detailing. I love the simplicity and intricacy of both the LSU national final leo and the Arkansas leo. Basically if it’s ombre, uses sparkle design nicely and/or is clean and not overcrowded, it’s a win from me.

READ THIS NEXT: Leotard Rankings: Week 16

Article by the editors of College Gym News

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