Dance teachers and gymnastics coaches can be very particular about what they want students to wear. Though the attire for these sports is similar, deciphering the difference between leotards can be tricky.
Princeton University defines leotards as tight-fitting, one-piece garments of stretchy material that cover the body from shoulders to legs. By definition, dance and gymnastic leotards are very similar, but the design, fabric, color and form are bit different.
Dance leotards are typically made of cotton or nylon. They are fashioned with spaghetti straps or tank-style straps, with a swoop neck. They can have short and long sleeves. Formal ballet studios require students to wear solid white, pink or black leotards. Dance leotards can have a tutu or skirt attached, and tend to be more adorned with ruffles or frills than are gymnastic leotards.
Gymnastics leotards are made of nylon, velvet, spandex or polyester. These leotards are tight-fitting, with a high neckline. They have long sleeves or thick tank straps. Competition leotards are generally bright and bejeweled with rhinestones or glitter. Gymnastic leotards tend to be designed with more patterns than dance leotards.
Leotards come in a variety of qualities. Depending on the manufacturer, prices range from $10 to $100.
Quality dance leotard manufacturers include: Capezio, Bloch, Danskin and Mirella. High-performance gymnastic leotard manufacturers include: Snow Leotards and GK-Elite Sportswear.