Another season finished, another full set of new leos to look back on. With a number of new teams and budgets recovered from the pandemic, we had a plethora of new leos to enjoy in 2023. And with the season now officially over, it’s time for each of our judges to choose their top 10 (and long list of honorable mentions…).
10. Auburn’s all orange: I have to give it up to a team that’s willing to be bold. It’s hard to pull off an all-orange look, but Auburn absolutely did it with this leo. I love the subtle tiger stripes, the multidimensional look, and the orangeness of the whole thing.
9. Arizona’s geometric blue: I love a good geometric design, and this one is great. The back is unique, the colors work nicely together, and the design is flattering on everyone.
8. George Washington’s gold: George Washington has really turned it around on the leo front lately. The use of so much gold here was risky, but it absolutely paid off. This leo makes a statement. A good one.
7. Washington’s skyline: When Washington debuted this design as a training leo, we all loved it and hoped it would one day turn into a competition design. That’s why I was so delighted when that wish came true! The skyline, the short sleeves, the matte white—it’s all perfect.
6. Western Michigan’s Sylvia P: Western Michigan has a tough road then it comes to leos. It has tough colors and a small budget, which typically results in average stock designs. But when it debuted this beauty, I gasped! It’s gorgeous and nearly flawless.
5. Alabama’s sparkle houndstooth: I LOVE when a team has a creative way of showing school spirit. Alabama’s houndstooth pattern is iconic, and recreating it in rhinestones on this design is brilliant.
4. Kentucky’s white with blue ombre and Kent State’s baby blue: I’m cheating and putting two leos for No. 4 because they’re both so similar and I love them equally. Kent State’s is great because it’s such a departure from what it normally wears, and the ombre on Kentucky’s is my favorite.
3. Pittsburgh’s blue and yellow slushie: Pitt kills it in the leo department year after year. I love the yellow/blue shimmer effect on the chest of this design, and the back is super cool too.
2. Florida’s throwback white: I love a throwback, and this one from Florida was true perfection, from the use of orange to the athletic design to the retro feel.
1. Michigan State’s tie-dye: I love everything about this leo. The tie-dye effect on the pattern is cool, the design is flattering, the colors are great, and the back is unique. No notes.
Honorable Mentions: Oregon State’s black and white, George Washington’s athletic blue, Fisk’s blue and yellow ombre, Michigan State’s white with neon, Florida’s watercolor, UC Davis’ ombre with gold, Brockport’s green and gold, Chloe Widner’s nationals, LSU’s nationals velvet, LIU’s asymmetric sunrise
10. Kentucky’s shiny blue and white: I love the sparkles, the material (especially the shiny sleeves), and the way the blue looks like a splash across the front. Gorgeous design.
9. Ohio State’s “dotting the I”: Ohio State loves to incorporate school spirit in unique ways. It was only a matter of time until this iconic marching band formation made a design, and I love it.
8. Greenville’s grey body: I love this shade of gray with this material (see: my favorite UCLA leo), so it was cool to see an entire body in the color, plus the pops of orange around it.
7. Arizona ravishing in red: I’m really obsessed with the sparkles on this, especially the encrusted design on the wrists of the sleeves. Those sparkles against the simplicity of the rest of the design make it such a classy look.
6. Oklahoma’s throwback all crimson: In an era of some truly shocking OU designs, this one was a great departure to classic Sooner leos.
5. Fisk’s blue and yellow ombre: I was shook seeing this in the USAG nationals pictures. It’s a great use of ombre with some unique colors (love the butter yellow), and I love the yellow straps amidst the blue and white back.
4. Temple’s senior night: Temple has tons of beautiful abstract leos, but as an alum, it’s nice to see the classic Temple T front and center on a design.
3. Auburn’s all orange: Love orange always, but this much orange? Say less. That, plus the subtle tiger stripes for school spirit, make this one a win.
2. Michigan State’s white with neon: This was so unique overall; it was a fresh twist on school spirit using a color that has not been done in gymnastics in my memory. Plus, an all white body, which I always love.
1. Florida’s throwback white: Yep, this FSU Seminole is ranking a Florida leo first. This is the epitome of what an NCAA gymnastics leo should be: pops of color, sparkles, and clear school spirit.
Honorable Mentions: Bowling Green’s senior night, Oregon State’s pride flower explosion (the white version), Penn State’s Nittany Lion sleeves
10. Washington’s skyline: Utah retired its skyline leotard, and Washington swooped in to pick up the slack.
9. Temple’s senior night: This is such a classic design that was executed very well.
8. Florida’s geometric black and blue: This ombre and geometric design just works so well.
7. California’s bay lights: This one looks more simple and not special on video and in photos, but seeing it up close in person highlights how well the crystals work. It was truly a gorgeous sparklebomb.
6. Auburn warrior: This one was a stunner. The neckline and back are very flattering, and I can’t wait to see the whole team wear it.
5. Pittsburgh’s blue and yellow slushie: The new Pittsburgh leos have been great, and this one does not disappoint. Pittsburgh nailed the use of color and ombre here.
4. Brockport’s green and gold: Yes, I have a DIII leotard in my top five because it was just that good. The use of school colors and ombre are fantastic.
3. Washington’s library: I already loved the design of this leotard when I first saw it with the gold with black mesh overlay combined with the purple lower body and use of crystals. Knowing the design is based on a library made it an easy favorite.
2. California’s Napa: This was such unique coloring that works so well. The neckline is great, and I wish this came in a shirt form.
1. Michigan State’s tie-dye: I love the shade of green, the twists on the back, and the use of tie-dye. It looked great on the athletes, and it is my favorite leotard of the year.
Honorable Mentions: Illinois State black and gray, Arizona ravishing in red, North Carolina Vegas
10. Temple’s My Cause: My favorite pride leo in a much anticipated pride-leo-filled season. The back straps are fun, as are the incorporation of two flags without placing them as a shoulder patch.
9. California’s Bay Lights: Navy can be tricky, but Cal knows how to pull it off. This leo seems super comfortable without looking like a training design with sleeves.
8. Bowling Green’s senior night: Good on the Falcons for venturing into white and orange territory this year, letting the colors do the heavy lifting instead of their traditional mystique black leos with lots of added details.
7. Pittsburgh’s blue and yellow slushie: Since Pittsburgh revamped its colorway a few years ago, it’s been crushing the leo game. A blue-to-yellow ombre can present issues with green, but not for Pitt.
6. Stanford’s at nationals: I’ve been so curious how the block S would look in silver instead of red, and it’s almost like this leo heard me. I love how subtle the ombre is and how the back is the focus of this design.
5. Western Michigan’s Sylvia P: The Broncos can sometimes get stuck with how to use their team colors, but this was a hit. Focusing on gold instead of brown (if it’s done like this) could be a big move with future leos out of Kalamazoo.
4. Kent State’s baby blues: This reinvented how the Golden Flashes use blue, and I’m hoping it’s the first of many in a new design era for the team. Bonus points for how many athletes said it was their most comfortable in the team’s leo arsenal.
3. Arkansas’s at SECs: Red and white can get tired (speaking as CGN’s resident Canadian), but this shade paired with different white fabrics is a yes in my books. Great way to balance the two colors without going overboard on the patterns.
2. Washington’s library: Hands down the most clever incorporation of school spirit this season, with the architecture lending itself to the patterning instead of a logo.
1. George Washington’s gold: GW put on a masterclass with this leo, showing every team that has gold in its colorway that it doesn’t need to be as yellow as we normally see. The stone pattern is a cherry on top when in motion!
Honorable Mentions: Springfield’s at NCGAs, Auburn’s warrior, UC Davis’ ombre with gold, Lindenwood’s white and gold, Maryland’s black and white
10. Fisk’s Wakanda Forever: Fisk made the most of its inaugural leo budget, but this was my favorite of the bunch. It’s a statement leo in every sense of the word!
9. Alabama’s legendary houndstooth: The Crimson Tide made the most of its signature pattern with this beauty; it’s sporty, it’s sparkly, and it’s undeniably Bama!
8. Missouri’s tulip neckline: I’m a sucker for leos that toe the line between glam and athletic, and this strikes the perfect balance.
7. Gobourne’s battle armor: The orange crystals look phenomenal against that rich blue, and the back is such a cool (and functional!) twist. This was the perfect leo for the Auburn floor queen’s final performance.
6. Washington’s sporty skyline: This immediately reminded me of one of my all-time favorites, Utah’s mountain leo. Seattle’s iconic skyline looks fabulous in shades of purple and those colors are perfectly complemented by the subtle crystal accents.
5. Oregon State’s grey and orange: The Beavers tend to favor bolder patterns and colors, so this more muted design really stands out. I particularly like how the crystal lattice on the front is echoed in the open back.
4. Florida’s throwback: I can’t speak to how practical or comfortable this leo is, but I love a good throwback design. This is as good as it gets.
3. Kent State’s icy ombre: The Golden Flashes took ombre to a whole new level with this gorgeous design.
2. Bowling Green’s creamsicle: This is quite a departure for the Falcons, and they knocked it out of the park! My only complaint is that now Clemson can’t use this exact design next season.
1. California’s Napa: School colors are so last season… The Bears took a risk, and the result is one of the most gorgeous and unique college leos in recent memory.
Honorable Mentions: Brockport’s shades of green and yellow, Michigan State’s twisted tie dye, West Virginia’s shield, Oklahoma’s crystal wave, Arizona State’s risky back
10. Arizona State’s retro with a v-back: The back design alone is nothing like we saw this year, which immediately made it stand out. The sparkle pitchfork on the front didn’t hurt either.
9. Auburn’s all orange: Orange is a hard color to pull off in a leotard, but I think Auburn did a really good job tying together a difficult color with a beautiful design.
8. Bowling Green’s orange and white: The ombre was to DIE for, and it was simple yet unique. A good example of doing more with less.
7. Oklahoma’s asymmetrical wave: This had so much glitz and sparkle to it. It had a simple design, and the sparkle worked all the way around from front to back.
6. Washington’s skyline: Obsessed. It worked perfectly to bring in a new skyline design to the Pac-12 just as Utah retired its. This just flows together beautifully.
5. LSU’s velvet: I still can’t get over this one. It was just the right amount of sparkle and shimmer for a national final that not many expected the Tigers would pull off.
4. Florida’s retro: I didn’t like this when I first saw it, but it has definitely grown on me. The throwback simplicity with a little bit of sparkle made it a top pick.
3. Kent State’s baby blue: The lighter blue isn’t a color we typically see from Kent State, but it was absolutely beautiful. The athletes glowed while competing in it.
2. Arkansas’ gunmetal gray and white: For a school that is limited to the colors it can use in a leotard, this one worked out so well. It was different for the Razorbacks, which makes it a favorite.
1. Michigan State’s tie-dye: 10/10. The tie-dye design is so unique but also not too outlandish. The big sparkle Spartan on the front tied the whole design together perfectly.
Honorable Mentions: Central Michigan’s firework, George Washington’s gold, Alabama’s houndstooth, BYU’s mountain, Fisk’s Wakanda Forever, Oklahoma’s crimson
10. Arizona’s geometric: This leotard manages to incorporate a busy pattern and loads of school spirit without looking overwhelming. That’s a tough task for most teams, but this is just about perfect.
9. Michigan’s velvet: If it weren’t for the random mesh straps on the back that serve no purpose, this would be perfect. It still made my top 10 though and was far and away Michigan’s best look this season. Hopefully we will get to see the rest of the team in it next year.
8. Brockport’s green and gold: Green and gold is not an easy color combo to work with, and I can’t imagine it being done much better than this.
7. Washington’s skyline and BYU’s mountain: I’m cheating a bit here, but I like them both for the same reason. The front designs are pleasant, but the back really does the talking in both these looks. If I had to choose, I might prefer the Washington design a smidge more, but not enough to rank them separately.
6. Florida’s all blue: This is very Florida and not at all unique compared to its other leos, but it looked stunning on the broadcast. I love the open back, the rhinestone design, and the shade of blue used.
5. Pittsburgh’s blue/yellow ombre: This leotard just makes me smile. The colors are so bright and punchy.
4. Kentucky’s white/blue ombre: This is such an elegant look for Kentucky! I love the color choice and the way the ombre carries over on to the back straps.
3. Washington’s library: What a unique take on school spirit! This design is immaculate, and I love everything about it. No notes.
2. George Washington’s athletic blue: I love how this leo manages to look athletic, simple, and elegant at the same time. I’m not sure what it is specifically that I like so much, but I think it’s possibly George Washington’s best design of all time.
1. Michigan State’s tie-dye: This design is so well-thought out. There’s seriously nothing I would change about it, and green is always a great leotard color.
Honorable Mentions: Penn State’s logo sleeves, Bowling Green’s creamsicle, Oklahoma’s throwback crimson, George Washington’s gold, California’s bay lights, Florida’s throwback, Arkansas’ SEC
10. Washington’s city skyline: As a Chicagoan, I have to respect any team that represents its city on a leotard, especially a city with such a unique skyline. I also love the matte white with the purple. I’m choosing to ignore the short sleeves.
9. Lindenwood’s white beauty: Lindenwood rarely misses, and this is no exception. The matte white and gold are beautiful, and the simplicity makes this feel very elegant.
8. Cal’s criss-cross: This leo just makes me smile. I love the neckline and the parallel pops of sparkles.
7. Florida’s athletic throwback: I love the matte white, the throwback design, the orange piping, and especially the sparkly F. A sporty departure from Florida’s usual, and I loved it.
6. George Washington’s athletic blue: The deep blue looks great with the gold logo, and I’m a sucker for some sort of traditionally athletic-looking design.
5. Florida’s Sparkly Blue: On paper this leo is not that exciting, but it looks stunning on the gymnasts. The back detailing is what pushed it into the No. 5 spot for me. So delicate and subtle!
4. Washington’s library: My dream is to live inside of a library, so this leo was a shoo-in for the top 10. It doesn’t hurt that the colors are stunning.
3. California’s Napa: This looks like a prom dress in the best way possible. I love the subtle nod to California.
2. George Washington’s elegant high neck gold: The inverted waistline, the high neck, the angular sparkles… Pure elegance. This leo was almost my first place choice—probably one of my top leos of all time.
1. Florida’s scallops: Give me scallops, and I’ll give you an excellent leo rating. The sparkle detailing is to die for. The little cinch on the back clasp is also a lovely detail.
Honorable Mentions: Temple’s My Cause, Oregon State’s sparkly sweetheart, LSU’s angular skyline, Eastern Michigan’s deep green, Oklahoma’s wave
10. Western Michigan’s Sylvia P: This is really nice, from the deep V to the color balance. It’s elegant and not overbearing.
9. California’s bay lights: I love the way Cal incorporated various NorCal features in its new leos this season, and this is no exception. It’s simple yet elegant, and I love the geometric design.
8. Utah’s all red: It’s relatively simple, but I love the rhinestone design and the strappy back.
7. George Washington’s gold: Petition for more gold teams to use this shade of gold, please. It looks great in pictures and even better in person.
6. LSU’s nationals velvet: I probably wouldn’t like this as much if I hadn’t seen it in person, but it was absolutely STUNNING in the arena. The rhinestones pop, and the strappy back is to die for.
5. Arizona’s geometric: The geometric design frames the A perfectly! It has the right amount of sparkle, and the ombre is a nice addition, too.
4. LSU’s deep V: I love everything about this except the chest hole. The deep V, the geometric pattern, the open back…I love it.
3. North Carolina’s ombre: It can’t get much better than Carolina blue and ombre. It’s a beauty.
2. Auburn’s blue and white ombre: It’s not often you see ombre extend onto the back straps, and I love it in this case. Beyond that, the ombre is gorgeous, and the Auburn logo is prominent yet subtle.
1. Pittsburgh’s blue and yellow slushie: This one is absolutely gorgeous! Pitt really knows how to do blue and yellow well, and this leo is no exception. Per usual, I love the ombre and the crossy pattern both with the sparkles and with the fabric on the back.
Honorable Mentions: Arkansas’ gunmetal gray and white, BYU’s mountains, Michigan State’s white with neon, Washington’s skyline, Michigan’s regionals velvet, Michigan’s nationals velvet
Congrats to California for winning the NCAAs fan poll!
READ THIS NEXT: Leotard Rankings: NCAA Nationals
Article by Elizabeth Grimsley, Katherine Weaver, Alyssa Van Auker, Peri Goodman, Claire Billman, Savanna Whitten, Mariah Dawson, Izzi Baskin, and Tara Graeve
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I wish you would embed the images in this post. Would make it so nice to read.
That being said, thank you for these round ups. I love them!