The pandemic has forced teams to pivot the way they typically run their program and go about planning for a new NCAA gymnastics season. Thanks to budget cuts, many teams will be without new leos in 2021. But look at the bright side: This means we might see some old faves resurface thanks to teams digging into the leo closet to come up with different outfits for each meet of the season.
Because of this, we decided to think back on some of our favorite semi-throwback designs that we hope teams bring back out for 2021. And for the purposes of this post, we’re ignoring brand deal rules (that means, for example, we might include older, non-Under Armour California leos even though the Golden Bears aren’t technically allowed to wear them anymore).
Elizabeth: THE SHINY OMBRE LEO. The Gators only wore this design, like, twice tops, but it’s by far their best leo. Wear it again or we strike! (Not really, I just want to see the leo again.)
Talitha: This leotard uses a similar color to the one Elizabeth picked but I prefer its use of crystals. It made its debut in 2015 but I don’t think we’ve ever seen it since.
Katherine: I have to second the shiny ombre leo. But to pick a contrasting design, how about this solid black design with some orange accents? It’s definitely something different than what we’re used to from the Gators.
Elizabeth: It’s a subtle design, but I’d love to see LSU wear this leo again. I love the purple mesh around the neckline, and the use of real gold is nice too.
Talitha: Could this become a competition leotard, please? The Tigers wore it in training at the 2019 SEC championships and it reflects perfectly both the team’s colors and its spirit.
Katherine: Another criminally underused design. LSU can be most often seen in dark purple and black designs, so this would be a welcome departure. Plus, it has throwback elements.
Kalley: I absolutely love the retro-athletic look of this leo and would love for it (or something similar) to be in the Gophers rotation. Mary Korlin-Downs designed a few leos that had very similar vibes, but in white, which is even better. Make it happen, Minnesota!
Katherine: And now for something completely different. This all yellow design is notorious among the leotard junkies of this site, and to see it resurface would be a real treat.
Elizabeth: I know it’s not realistic at ALL, but I love this design, from the strikes to the mostly black and white design to the minor orange piping.
Talitha: Is there a long-sleeved version of this leotard? I really hope so because the design is original, different and intriguing. Add ombre mesh sleeves, black on top and orange at the bottom and you’ll have a stunning competition leo.
Katherine: The BEAVER of it all! It’s a crazy, campy design, but has 2020 been anything but either of those things? (Emphasis on the “crazy” of course.)
Elizabeth: I’d literally die if Arizona State wore this one-armed, pitch fork monstrosity for a meet. I know they can’t technically wear it in a real competition due to new brand deals or rules or whatever, but I can dream, right?
Talitha: I love this new Maroon Monsoon leotard and I hope to see the Sun Devils wear it over and over again next year. The school logo on the sleeves gives it an additional touch that makes it unique.
Elizabeth: Please, please, please bring my favorite Arkansas leo back out of the closet. I know it likely can’t be worn because it’s black and for some reason new Razorback brand guidelines are afraid of black for some reason, but alas. It’s a great one nevertheless.
Talitha: I generally like leotards with white upper body and sleeves and a body featuring the school’s main color. This leotard does exactly that but it goes beyond. The V chest line is elegant and so is the use of crystals. Please wear it again!
Katherine: This one is just so weird, it’s begging to be brought back.
Elizabeth: I know this was a sample leo that there’s only one of, but it’s one of my favorite Sooner designs that I wish the whole team had gotten to wear. That would be a lot of expensive crystals though…
Talitha: I’m generally not a fan of Oklahoma’s leotards, but this old design from 2010 nationals is pretty and elegant and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.
Katherine: It’s a blurry picture but you get the idea. Like I’ve said with others, just something completely different.
Elizabeth: I love this Utah leo! The ombre is subtle, and the share of red is super nice. The Utes haven’t worn it in a while, but it’s a good one that I think they could realistically bring back because it’s still Under Armour.
Talitha: The Red Rocks would realistically not be able to bring back this old leotard but it is worth a mention. Utah should work with black more.
Katherine: This design gives me queen of hearts vibes, and considering Maile O’Keefe is trending right now as the queen of the Gymternet’s collective hearts (IYKYK), I’d say it’s relevant.
Elizabeth: I know the Nebraska athletic department wants to lean into the “Big Red” part of the school spirit, but this leo is too gorgeous to let die after only a couple wears. My runner up is this leo that was only worn once by one gymnast at nationals in 2019, although in reality, Nebraska has a LOT of recent leos it’s only worn once or twice (the zipper leo, anyone?)
Talitha: This will never be my favorite leotard, but I’m intrigued by the color contrast and I’d be curious to see it again.
Elizabeth: It’s grey! It has a back that can have a bra! It’s still strappy! Bring back this leo or any of its variations, and I’ll be happy.
Talitha: I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: UCLA doesn’t wear this stunning leotard enough. It made its debut at nationals in 2016 and since then we’ve seen it sporadically. Criminally enough, it never made its appearance in 2020 and I’m still not over it.
Talitha: Cal may not be able to wear this leotard anymore, but I love everything about it: The navy blue body, the name of the team, written with rhinestones and old-style characters on the chest, the two golden stripes on the upper body, the white mesh sleeves and, especially, the golden crystals around the neckline. It embodied Cal’s spirit perfectly!
Emily HF: I just want to remind people that the purple to silver/white ombre UW leo exists. The team has worn it about once in the past 3 years, but it’s by far the best leo it has.
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Article by Elizabeth Grimsley, Talitha Ilacqua, Kalley Leer, Emily Howell-Forbes, Katherine Weaver
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