Leotard Retrospective

You know we love leos here at College Gym News. You’ve probably also realized that we love throwback posts. Today, we’re combining the two and taking a look at some teams’ style evolution over the years. Georgia has been largely consistent—all black everything—while teams like Utah, Alabama and Florida had some complete style shifts over the years. We’ve included gifs of conference or national championships wherever possible, since teams usually debut new styles at those meets.


1983: The athletic look.
1990: Alabama was all about the candy stripe for several years.
1995: Hello, keyhole.
2000: Very different, very 2000.
2005: So many keyholes!
2010: The giant A and the houndstooth have arrived.
2015: Sparkly leos are here.
2018: Alabama has been slightly toned down and more intricate.


1985: Florida is the sunshine state.
1990: There are tiny white flowers lining the front and back mesh insets.
1995: Finally! Some blue!
2000: This is velvet and a very deep blue, which is so 2000.
2005: Sparkle city, and moving back toward the shade of blue we see today.
2010: Back to blue and white.
2015: Perhaps our favorite Rhonda-era leo.
2018: Finally, some touches of orange! Maybe 2019 will be the year we get a full orange Florida leo.


1984: There are three tiny white flowers on the front.
1990: The black begins.
1995: The top is a criss-cross mesh pattern.
2000: Tiny embroidered text was very popular; that little script says “Georgia”.
2005: Some white appears, and the text has grown.
2010: A rare red look.
2015: More red, and the giant “G” we know and love (or hate!).
2018: Suzanne is back, and so is black.


1988: The purple on the shoulder includes a tiger stripe pattern.
1990: Pink was in!
1995: Back to purple.
2000: The tiny embroidered text says “LSU”.
2005: This was a popular style, even down to the club level.
2010: We can’t help but think those gold bits resemble tiger claw marks.
2015: The fleur-de-lis makes an appearance.
2018: We’ve seen LSU going for this rich shade of purple recently.


1990: Note the block M on the hip.
1995: Those keyholes are lined by blue and maize bits of fabric.
2000: Very blue, very velvet.
2005: Getting closer to the blue-with-some-yellow we’re used to today, and a variation on the starburst leo.
2010: We did ten double takes at this leo; a very different look for the 2000s Wolverines.
2015: Now we find the mesh and intricate yellow details we know well.
2018: Taking yellow to a new level.


1990: Very reminiscent of early Alabama looks.


2000: Black and white is here. And weirdly baggy sleeves?
2005: Nebraska wore a good bit of silver in the early 2000s.
2010: That is one big N.
2015: Still rocking the sweetheart neckline, but venturing into intricate backs.
2018: Hitting the ombre trend, and going for a fully open back.


1988: A classically ’80s athletic style.
2000: Fast forward 22 years, and we’ve arrived at keyholes.
2005: The subtle sort of look we don’t see in KJ Kindler-era leos.
2010: Note the “SOONERS” on the low back; strategically placed to not fall under the competitor number?
2015: Intricate Oklahoma leos in full swing by this point.
2018: We can assure you that this one was blinding in person.


1980: The patriotic look was in, as was the V neck.
1990: Don’t miss the bit of yellow on the neckline.
1995: Some true gold—not yellow—appears, as does the omnipresent mid-90s keyhole.
2000: Of course, it’s 2000, so we need velvet and tiny embroidered text.
2005: Some very bright blue we don’t see these days.
2010: The criss-cross back Rebecca’s Mom leo has arrived.
2015: We still can’t believe UCLA wore this in 2015! Note the shoulder mesh.
2018: We’re still divided on this one at CGN. Some of us love it, some of us hate it.


1980: The athletic V neck look.
1983: We’re still not sure why Utah wore purple, or what that pattern is.
1990: We learned in 2018 that pink is a color of the Ute nation, which explains a lot of Utah’s style choices through the decades.
1995: That faux high leg cut was a popular look.
2000: It’s 2000, so by now you know that tiny embroidery says “UTAH”.
2005: We promise this is nationals, not a pink meet. The light shade is a departure.
2010: A very different look.
2015: We all know the many U’s leo well.
2018: Going back to that Ute-inspired look.


Article by Emily Minehart. Photo/Emily Howell-Forbes


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