Ever wondered where all the gymnasts got their fantastic costumes? Like most other sports Gymnastics has its particular dress code. Its dress code requires that each participant puts on a tightly fitting garment that allows him or her to move around with ease. The essence of the tightly fitting clothes, known as gymnastics leotards, is that the sport dictates a lot of tossing and turning and loose fitting clothes can easily get caught on the various apparatus and consequently injure the competitor.
It is because of the above that the gymnastics leotard was designed. A leotard can be described as a tightly fitting one-piece garment worn during various sports events. The gymnastics leotard covers the trunk (chest and abdomen area) leaving out the legs. It can either be sleeveless or have short or long sleeves and is occasionally worn with tights or bike shorts by those individuals who find them too exposing. However, there is a modified version of this garment known as the unitard. The unitard, unlike the traditional leotard, has long legs and sometimes even long sleeves so that it is able to cover the wearer’s whole body.
One thing to note is that these garments are unisex. It has been an issue of controversy over the years whether they should also be worn by men especially since most adverts and sales mostly target women. Various design houses have, however, come out to refute these claims and have even gone a step ahead to not only market the garments to men but also design various leotards that are able to conform to the physical needs of male wearers. The only major difference between the men and women leotards is that men’s leotards are low cut around the groin area and are very low cut below the chest. They are also usually polo necked though this has since moved become another unisex feature of the garment.
The gymnastics leotard is worn for a wide range of activities. Gymnasts, thespians, circus performers, acrobats, athletes, and dancers can wear them. You can also put them on during physical training exercises as they offer great support for the body. If you wish to wear the leotard as a casual garment then you can accessorize it with a belt or other additional garment that suits your fashion sense.
The leotard has its history in France. It was invented in the 19th Century and named after a French acrobat by the name Jules Leotard. He was one of the most celebrated sportsmen of his time and is remembered for his great contribution to the modern sports’ costumes. Jules Léotard invented the first skin-tight, long sleeved, one-piece garment, which he gracefully adorned during his acrobatic performances.
He designed it to display his muscles and to enable him have unrestricted movement during his performance. At the time he called the referred to the garment as ‘maillot’ but as time went by and many years after his death the name leotard was coined. The garment was however restricted to acrobatic shows but was later incorporated and modified into a women’s garment. The result is the current one-piece swimsuit that is worn by women when swimming or the gymnastics leotard used for the various types of Gymnastics. Around the late 20th Century, wearing a leotard was not only restricted to sports or other physical exercise but had become a fashion statement in most parts of the world.