leotard rankings

Leotard Rankings: Throwback Olympic Leotards

There have been some fantastic Olympic leotards over the years. Whether you love the designs or don’t care for them as much as other people, you have to admit, they’re iconic. For this week’s leotard rankings, in honor of the Tokyo Games, we’re looking at some of the past Olympic designs, finding our faves and picking college teams we think might be good fits to wear something similar.

Do you agree with our opinions? Which Olympic leos did we leave out that you want to see recreated for the NCAA? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

Chile (2016): 8.820

Elizabeth: 7.7/10.0

The purple is great, but I don’t like the sparkle design on the chest at all. It’s not very flattering. Change that up a bit, and this would make a great Washington leo.

Tavia: 9.2/10.0

I am so in love with this one. I cannot handle it. The ombre and sparkles are lovely, and everything is flowing together so seamlessly. This would look good on a team like SJSU.

Carolyn: 10.0/10.0

Oh my gosh this would be a GORGEOUS UW-Whitewater leo. The design is gorgeous, from the sparkles and the sleeves to the pop of purple on the neckline—everything about it is PERFECT.

Katie W: 7.5/10.0

I need more leotards in this color ASAP. The color and amount of sparkle is flawless, but the sparkle design completely misses the mark. I could see BYU bringing this one to life in the NCAA.

Tara: 9.7/10.0

I LOVE THIS! The black to purple ombre is STUNNING. I also really love the sparkle design. Echoing Katie that this would be a lovely BYU leo.

Uzbekistan (2016): 8.360

Elizabeth: 8.6/10.0

I’m imagining this with either shiny white sleeves or white mesh, and both possibilities are great. I love the shade of red used and think it works well with the fabric. Ball State has a similar design.

Tavia: 6.8/10.0

I like the simplicity of the ombre on this design. The soft transition of colors is flattering. I want to say Florida could pull off this design only because it has been known to compete in short sleeved leotards. 

Carolyn: 9.5/10.0

When I first saw this one I thought of Temple’s pretty pink leo and the soft femininity of it, and this leo gives me the same vibe. I think if some sleeves were added, it could be the Owls’ next pink meet design.

Katie W: 8.1/10.0

I definitely need sleeves on this leotard for competition, but I think the color and ombre is stunning. This leotard would be perfect for any team’s pink meet, but I could certainly see Auburn replicating it. 

Tara: 8.8/10.0

I love the ombre and the shade of red! I’d love it even more with sleeves—like Elizabeth said, white mesh would be nice. Arizona’s red color would work well, too.

Argentina (2016): 8.260

Elizabeth: 9.5/10.0

This is fantastic. I love the white to blue ombre and white mesh sleeves. It’s a pretty simple design overall, but I think that’s what makes it. It could definitely be a great UCLA leo since it reminds me of its other ombre designs.

Tavia: 8.0/10.0

I just love the soft elegance of this leotard. The ombre body in combination with the sleeves really works. I think this leotard would be a great addition to UCLA’s collection. 

Carolyn: 7.5/10.0

This one reminds me of an actual Florida leo that it has sadly only worn twice. The neckline, the shimmer, the colors and the ombre are all so similar that this one only makes sense for me to see it as a Florida one.

Katie W: 7.8/10.0

I absolutely love the ombre and color choice of the bodice on this leotard. The only improvement I have is to eliminate the nude neckline or alter the color of it. This leotard is similar to a past-ombre UCLA leotard and would fit nicely with the school. 

Tara: 8.5/10.0

I love the ombre and the shade of blue! I don’t love the white neckline, but the rest is nice. It definitely reminds me of something UCLA would wear!

Mexico (2016): 8.100

Elizabeth: 9.6/10.0

Mexico kills the leo game every time. You’d think it would be hard not to look like Christmas, but this leo is done to perfection. I love the shade of green, and the sparkle design is just enough. Wear this please Michigan State!

Tavia: 6.9/10.0

I cannot make up my mind on this one. Something about the way the neckline is sewed to the rest of the leotard bothers me. I like the simplicity and jewel design. In crimson, this leotard would fit right in with the rest of the Alabama leotard collection. 

Carolyn: 6.5/10.0

Although this leo is definitely not my favorite ever, I think William and Mary would appreciate the green shade and how shiny it is in competition.

Katie W: 9.0/10.0

Mexico really executed the jewel design flawlessly on this leo. I like the simplicity presented in the design, but the standout component of the shiny matte material used. This leotard just screams Michigan State.

Tara: 8.5/10.0

I like this more than I thought I would. I love the shiny green fabric, and the rhinestones are pretty without being too overwhelming. It definitely reminds me of Michigan State.

Australia (2012): 8.100

Elizabeth: 9.3/10.0

I really love a green and yellow combo. The shade of green used here is fantastic, and the arm design is dated but one of my faves. It reminds me of an early 2010s Utah leo.

Tavia: 6.5/10.0

I like the color of the green, but I just wish there was more design on the body and more sparkle. The uniqueness of the sleeves looks like something Oklahoma might try. Oklahoma always pushes the limits and loves to be different with its designs. 

Carolyn: 8.5/10.0

This leo reminds me of one that Utah had back when they got their first round of Under Armour leos with the main similarity being the sleeves. If it could somehow recreate the leo but make the arms more sparkly and splattery like Australia did, I could see it being the gymternet’s new obsession. #SplatterSleeves

Katie W: 8.5/10.0

I don’t normally go for dark shades of green and yellow, but Australia made the most of it here. I think simplicity was the key with this one. I also find myself gravitating toward the ribbon pattern on the sleeves. I could see this leotard being worn by a program like Alaska. It is simple, but has a uniqueness to it that makes it stand out. 

Tara: 7.7/10.0

This is a nice one. The body is pretty simple, but the arms make up for it. The obvious choice for the color combination is Alaska, but change the green to navy and I could see West Virginia wearing it, too.

Romania (2012): 8.080

Elizabeth: 7.2/10.0

I like the metallic silver here, but the design overall just isn’t doing it for me. However, it looks great on Ponor. How about Oregon State wear something similar? It likes black leos.

Tavia: 9.0/10.0

I love this one. The metallic silver is something that isn’t used often in the NCAA, but maybe now is the time to start. I could see a team like Iowa rocking this design. 

Carolyn: 8.0/10.0

I thought this was such a beauty back in 2012 when I first saw it, from the design to the different fabrics on the sleeves to the sparkles; just so unique and different. Since Nebraska utilizes a lot of black and silver in its designs, this would be such a pretty leo for it, especially if you mix some red in there as well.

Katie W: 8.8/10.0

I absolutely love this leotard, and I think a huge component is the seamless black to silver transition. I also wish more leotards would incorporate black mesh instead of nude. I immediately thought of Georgia since the program has a variety of black leotards already. 

Tara: 7.4/10.0

I like this overall. The metallic silver pairs well with the black, and I enjoy the design too. I can see Iowa replicating this with its love of black leotards, plus the silver would give Iowa a unique take on the traditional black and white it normally goes with.

France (2016): 7.980

Elizabeth: 9.2/10.0

A fantastic leo. The red design is very rooster, which is of course fitting, and I love the asymmetric blue and white. I could see Florida taking this design and running with it. Maybe if it did I’d finally stop saying all Florida leos look the same.

Tavia: 7.7/10.0

I like the contrast of the white with the other color here. The feathery look is really doing it for me. When I first looked at this, I thought of the bronco head used in Boise State’s designs and I cannot unsee it. 

Carolyn: 5.0/10.0

I have never liked this leo, and quite frankly I don’t understand the hype about it. However, if Washington took it, made it this and added gold to the feathers, I might reconsider.

Katie W: 9.0/10.0

I love this design. I think it has such a key focal point, and the rest of the leotard just adds to it with beautiful colors and a touch of sparkle. I have to echo Tavia with Boise State, but I could also see Oregon State adopting this design considering it already has a black and white version.

Tara: 9.0/10.0

I love this! It’s fun and elegant without being too overbearing. It’s definitely grown on me over time. Oregon State has a similar leo. I can also see Boise State adopting something it, too.

Jamaica (2016): 7.640

Elizabeth: 7.8/10.0

This is just OK. The swirly vine design is definitely dated, but I like the color combo between black, white and green. Maybe a team like Northern Illinois would look good in this since it typically had designs on the simpler side with not a ton of flash but that still look good.

Tavia: 7.0/10.0

I’m conflicted on this one. I think I would like this design better in different colors. I like the swirls and the mesh sleeves. I think California could pull this design off. 

Carolyn: 9.0/10.0

Tell me you can’t see this leo in Cyclone colors! There are so many color combinations Iowa State could use here, and it would fit in with its overall leotard collection.

Katie W: 8.3/10.0

The sparkle and more complex design on top really helps this leotard come together despite having a white bodice. I really love the black mesh on top with the white polka dots on it. I could see Centenary adding this to its leotard closet as the program has used a similar polka dot design before. 

Tara: 6.1/10.0

I don’t love the swirly design, but the color contrast is nice. I can definitely see Eastern Michigan running with this.

Japan (2012): 7.620

Elizabeth: 8.5/10.0

I love the black and white look with just a touch of red to make the design really pop. Georgia could take the concept and run with it.

Tavia: 7.6/10.0

I like the contrast of black and white with the burst of color. I think Arizona State could use this concept to make a beautiful sun-themed leotard. 

Carolyn: 6.0/10.0

Since Rutgers likes to take perfectly good leos and make them unique (yet not crazy), I think it could pull this one off.

Katie W: 8.0/10.0

For some reason I really love this one. I think the aspect of making a horizontal design compared to a vertical design stands out. I immediately thought of Arizona and how gorgeous this design could be with its red, white and blue school colors. 

Tara: 8.0/10.0

I like this! The sunburst design combined with the colors is unique. I could see BYU running with something similar, though it would also be gorgeous in the sunset colors ASU has done on recent leos.

Armenia (2016): 7.280

Elizabeth: 8.1/10.0

Such a clever design! I love the mountains to pay tribute to Armenia. I know I’ve already picked Utah for another leo, but this is just so similar to Utah’s skyline design that I can’t not say it.

Tavia: 8.4/10.0

I’m normally not into white leotards, but this one just gets me. I like the skyline in jewels. I would also like to point out the obvious and say it looks like Utah’s skyline leo. 

Carolyn: 7.5/10.0

This leo pays homage to the mountains in Armenia, so when I was thinking of a team that has a unique feature, I thought of the ultimate contender: Air Force! Just keep the white base and add something symbolic to it like it designed this leo.

Katie W: 4.9/10.0

I like the concept of the leotard, but I’m not into the plain white bodice on this one. I can’t explain why Rutgers pops into my head, but it does… 

Tara: 7.5/10.0

I like where this is going with the tribute to the mountains. Utah has a similar design, so I’m just going to go with that.

Ukraine (1996): 7.060

Elizabeth: 8.8/10.0

Velvet! Green and white! Scalloped neckline! Everything about this leo is perfection. I’ll be obvious and say Michigan State should wear this one.

Tavia: 8.7/10.0

It’s simple. It’s velvet. What’s not to love? The neckline and use of green and white is lovely. I think this design would translate well to a Michigan leotard with a color change. 

Carolyn: 7.5/10.0

Georgia already has that one velvet throwback leo so this should be a welcome addition!

Katie W: 4.8/10.0

Apparently I’m alone in not loving velvet leotards. However, I think a dark purple with white would be stunning, and Washington could definitely use this one in its collection. 

Tara: 5.5/10.0

This is a little too simple for my liking. I’m not opposed to velvet, but I’m not in love with it like others. The green is definitely screaming Michigan State.

China (2008): 5.740

Elizabeth: 6.5/10.0

This is fine. I do like the use of “real” gold though and think more NCAA teams with gold colors should do so as well—Western Michigan, LSU, Washington.

Tavia: 7.0/10.0

I like the use of the neckline here and the more athletic look of this design. For some reason it makes me think of Arkansas. I think it’s the mainly red design with a pop of white. 

Carolyn: 6.5/10.0

I don’t love the original leo, but as an NCAA leo? Hear me out: Keep the white sleeves, turn every gold part into silver, keep the red and boom…Ohio State.

Katie W: 2.5/10.0

Oof. I absolutely hate this with the high neck, sleeve color contrast and overall design. I could see Ohio State or Rutgers taking this leotard on. 


I like the general concept of this. The halter-esque neckline with the gold is nice, though I wish the sleeves and bodice past the gold lines were all white. The first team that comes to my mind is LSU, though I’m with Elizabeth that more teams with gold colors could utilize it, and adding Denver.

USA (2004): 5.720

Elizabeth: 8.3/10.0

I loved the Adidas era of USA Gymnastics leotards because they were so athletic looking. I’d have to agree with Tavia that this would make a good LSU leo; it reminds me of that white one the Tigers only wore once or twice.

Tavia: 7.4/10.0

I’m not sure how to feel about this one. I think I like it when the arms are down, but the way the stripes continue up the arm throws me off. I would pick this to be an LSU leo because it reminds me of its white design from SECs a few years ago. 

Carolyn: 2.0/10.0

Ooh I hate this. It just looks so bland to me. I need a design or sparkle or something! However, Kent State does use these stripe designs sometimes, so maybe it could use it.

Katie W: 5.0/10.0

I agree with Elizabeth in loving some of the Adidas designs, but this one just happens to be one of my least favorites. I’m not a fan of the plain white bodice with nothing else on it. It definitely needs more bling, color or a design on it. Bowling Green utilizes a stripe in a lot of its designs, and the school’s colors could make this leotard a hit.

Tara: 5.9/10.0

This isn’t bad, but it’s not really doing it for me either. I like how the stripes continue from the sleeves to the body when the gymnast has her hands raised. It reminds me of an older Denver leo. I could see Arizona doing a modern take on this and incorporating its “A” into the V of the stripe design.

READ THIS NEXT: Leotard Rankings: Clemson Leotard Design Contest

Article by Elizabeth Grimsley, Carolyn Lien, Tavia Smith, Katie Walsh, Tara Graeve

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