leotard rankings

Leotard Rankings: Week 6

The criteria is a little different this season as we tweak some of our point totals to better analyze the designs. There will be up to three points for design, up to one point each for fabric and sparkle, school spirit and uniqueness and up to three points for overall appearance. This week Brandis, Claire and Izzi are joining Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth to help judge.

Pittsburgh: 8.600

Elizabeth: 7.900

Design 2.4/3, Fabric 0.7/1, Sparkle 0.8/1, Theme Meet Spirit 0.9/1, Uniqueness 0.6/1, Overall Appearance 2.5/3

This leo is fantastic. I love how Pitt went all out for its BLM meet. Like Brandis noted, the letters on the sleeve are a bit big, but the rest of the design is great. I love how the design overall is elegant yet athletic, and the yellow rhinestones add just a touch more school spirit to an overall understated color palate.

Brandis: 7.400

Design 2.0/3, Fabric 0.7/1, Sparkle 0.7/1, Theme Meet Spirit 1.0/1, Uniqueness 0.5/1, Overall Appearance 2.5/3

This leo is so elegant. The bright rhinestones on the black fabric makes them standout, as does the giant school logo on the back in gold. The “BLM” on the sleeves is a little clunky, but it barely takes away from this overall gorgeous look.

Izzi: 10.0

Design 3/3, Fabric 1/1, Sparkle 1/1, Theme Meet Spirit 1/1, Uniqueness 1/1, Overall Appearance 3/3

I’m obsessed with this leo. Most importantly, I love that Pitt committed to the BLM meet and financially invested in it with this leo! It feels like every team has a pink leo, and it’s really nice to see a team investing similar time and money into another cause that the gymnasts really care about. Besides all of that, I thought this looked universally flattering. On video, the rhinestones looked very yellow, which added to the school spirit and made it more interesting than just a plain black leo. I absolutely love the back, too—it’s interesting without being distracting or awkward. Definitely the best theme leo I’ve seen in a long time.

Claire: 9.100

Design 2.7/3, Fabric 1/1, Sparkle 1/1, Theme Meet Spirit 1/1, Uniqueness 0.7/1, Overall Appearance 2.7/3

I wish the fabric around the keyhole back was matte black; that’s my only (minor) criticism. This leo is the definition of style and substance and beautifully lives up to the movement it’s meant to honor.

New Hampshire: 7.750

Elizabeth: 7.200

Design 2.0/3, Fabric 0.7/1, Sparkle 0.7/1, School Spirit 0.9/1, Uniqueness 0.8/1, Overall Appearance 2.1/3

I’ve never been a fan of printed-on designs, but this leo overall is a good one. I like the asymmetrical school spirit, and the sweetheart neckline for sure. The ombre sleeves are also obviously great as well.

Brandis: 7.400

Design 2.2/3, Fabric 0.6/1, Sparkle 0.5/1, School Spirit 1.0/1, Uniqueness 0.8/1, Overall Appearance 2.3/3

I love the asymmetry! The colors are a little bright, but this leo does a great job of drawing your eye and letting you know which school the gymnast competes for.

Izzi: 7.900

Design 2.5/3, Fabric 1/1, Sparkle 0.1/1, School Spirit 1/1, Uniqueness 0.9/1, Overall Appearance 2.4/3

I like this one a lot! I love the paw and the design that radiates off of it (Michigan has a similar one that I love as well). I don’t like the sweetheart—it’s a little too much going on with the paw design for me. I think it would have looked better as solid blue or an ombre into white at the top. A+ for matte fabric as usual.

Claire: 8.500

Design 2.7/3, Fabric 1/1, Sparkle 0.3/1, School Spirit 1/1, Uniqueness 0.8/1, Overall Appearance 2.7/3

This leo perfectly toes the line between quirky and classic. I love the fact that there’s both ombré sleeves and a starburst radiating from a giant paw.

LIU: 7.375


Elizabeth: 7.800

Design 2.2/3, Fabric 1.0/1, Sparkle 0.6/1, School Spirit 0.9/1, Uniqueness 0.7/1, Overall Appearance 2.4/3

This may be one of the best ombre incorporated on a leo. The colors are just *chef’s kiss.* The design may not be unique (see Central Michigan), but the overall look is fantastic, especially for a team that is likely only going to have this one leo for the time being.

Brandis: 6.900

Design 2.0/3, Fabric 0.7/1, Sparkle 0.5/1, School Spirit 1.0/1, Uniqueness 0.5/1, Overall Appearance 2.2/3

The ombre is both eye-catching and a great way of incorporating the school’s light blue official color without being too much. It’s a look that other teams have done similarly, but LIU does well.

Izzi: 6.700

Design 2/3, Fabric 1/1, Sparkle 0.5/1, School Spirit 1/1, Uniqueness 0.2/1, Overall Appearance 2/3

The colors are really great on this one. The design is a little plain, and I’m not usually a huge fan of just the logo or mascot as the front decoration, but since this is their very first leo, I think it makes sense. As usual, I think the matte looks excellent, but I don’t really like the details on the back. 

Claire: 8.100

Design 2.3/3, Fabric 1/1, Sparkle 1/1, School Spirit 1/1, Uniqueness 0.5/1, Overall Appearance 2.3/3

LIU took a stock leo design and went pro. All of the details—the shades of blue ombré, the use of rhinestones, the yellow emphasizing the mascot—are wonderfully intentional and cohesive. Fantastic debut from the Sharks.

Rutgers: 7.150


Elizabeth: 6.900

Design 1.6/3, Fabric 0.8/1, Sparkle 0.7/1, Theme Meet Spirit 1.0/1, Uniqueness 1.0/1, Overall Appearance 1.8/3

Pink leos can get pretty boring and stock design-y, but this design is far from that. I like Rutgers’ dedication to the knights theme and how the design incorporates not only pink meet spirit but school spirit as well.

Brandis: 6.300

Design 1.8/3, Fabric 0.4/1, Sparkle 0.3/1, Theme Meet Spirit 1.0/1, Uniqueness 1.0/1, Overall Appearance 1.8/3

I love how the pink ribbon is woven throughout the leo, but other than that, there’s not too much else going on here. Although, props to Rutgers for not just wearing a boring pink leo!

Izzi: 7.300

Design 2.0/3, Fabric 0.7/1, Sparkle 0.6/1, Theme Meet Spirit 1/1, Uniqueness 1/1, Overall Appearance 2.0/3

I really appreciate their commitment to making a unique pink leo and not just adding one stripe of pink to a stock design. I also love the commitment to the knights with the sword. I think the shoulders kind of push this over the edge into the “too busy” category, but I really like what they were going for, so A for effort here.

Claire: 8.100

Design 2.0/3, Fabric 0.7/1, Sparkle 0.7/1, Theme Meet Spirit 1/1, Uniqueness 1/1, Overall Appearance 2.5/3

I will never be mad about a black and hot pink palette, and Rutgers always crushes it in the school spirit department. I’m not a fan of the inverted V neck, but the grey shoulders are a nice touch.

Ball State: 4.850

Elizabeth: 5.600

Design 1.8/3, Fabric 0.7/1, Sparkle 0.7/1, School Spirit 0.7/1, Uniqueness 0.6/1, Overall Appearance 1.8/3

This is a huge step up for Ball State compared to some of its other leos. I don’t love the brown or the printed on swirls, but the overall look is classy.

Brandis: 5.200

Design 1.5/3, Fabric 0.5/1, Sparkle 0.3/1, School Spirit 0.6/1, Uniqueness 0.3/1, Overall Appearance 2.0/3

We’ve seen so many variations of this leotard over the years, but the ombre and design on the sleeves are a great touch! A simple look, but it does a good job of including all the school colors.

Izzi: 4.500

Design 1.0/3, Fabric 0.7/1, Sparkle 0.4/1, School Spirit 0.8/1, Uniqueness 0.1/1, Overall Appearance 1.5/3

I feel like the only word to describe this is fine. It’s boring but pretty universally flattering, the ombre sleeves are a nice touch and the back doesn’t bother me. I really wish the swirls weren’t there. 

Claire: 4.100

Design 1.3/3, Fabric 0.5/1, Sparkle 0.3/1, School Spirit 0.5/1, Uniqueness 0/1, Overall Appearance 1.5/3

The word that immediately springs to mind is “inoffensive.” There’s nothing bad, but there’s nothing memorable or distinctive either. I would have liked for Ball State take a cue from LIU and put a fresh spin on a stock design.

UCLA: 4.050

Elizabeth: 3.800

Design 0.8/3, Fabric 0.2/1, Sparkle 0.2/1, School Spirit 0.6/1, Uniqueness 1.0/1, Overall Appearance 1.0/3

I…don’t like this at all. The gold is nice in theory, but it just doesn’t looks great on the gymnasts. The shiny fabric shows everything, and the rhinestone downward arrow pattern draws the focus to the wrong places. When I said I wanted UCLA to utilize its actual school colors more, this isn’t what I meant.

Brandis: 4.000

Design 1.0/3, Fabric 0.5/1, Sparkle 0.5/1, School Spirit 0.0/1, Uniqueness 1.0/1, Overall Appearance 1.0/3

Great leo for a promo video! But not to actually compete in. Nothing about this look makes me think of UCLA, but it is certainly a look I won’t soon forget.

Izzi: 4.100

Design 1.2/3, Fabric 0.3/1, Sparkle 0.8/1, School Spirit 0.5/1, Uniqueness 0.8/1, Overall Appearance 0.5/3

I usually love all UCLA leos, but this is just not it. I think the only person it looked good on was Nia. The gold was really yellow-y, and while I appreciate their new desire to use school colors, this one really missed the mark. The highlight for me was the back—the simple open back with the gold rhinestones looked nice in competition.

Claire: 4.300

Design 1.0/3, Fabric 0.3/1, Sparkle 0.5/1, School Spirit 0/1, Uniqueness 1.0/1, Overall Appearance 1.5/3

I applaud UCLA for its fearlessness, but this entire design strikes me as something that was better in theory than in practice. It reminds me of the college football championship trophy; interpret that how you will.

READ THIS NEXT: Leotard Rankings: Week 5

Article by Elizabeth Grimsley, Brandis Heffner, Claire Billman and Izzi Baskin

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    1. Since the leotard is an older one, we don’t have plans to judge that particular design. However, if/when Cal debuts a new leo in 2021, we will be sure to judge it.

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