the difference between unitard and leotard

Key Difference -Leotard VS Unitard

Reading Key Difference -Leotard VS Unitard 4 minutes Next If I Wear An Underwear In A Leotard, What Will Happen?

Unitards and leotards are common dancewear, but if you’re not a dancer, you might not know the difference between the two. Both are tight, one-piece garments with long, short or no sleeves, but a leotard either has short or no leg covering, and a unitard covers the legs. Though the difference in construction between the two garments is small, they differ in their history and typical usages.

Now that you know the difference, why do you need both?

Well, lets start with their history to help give you a better understanding of what the unitard and leotard were made for and why. Stick with us, it’s a quick and interesting read….

The History of the Unitard

The unitard’s history lies in the stage. In the early 1900s, models and dancers wore flesh-colored unitards to simulate nudity. While unitards today can be made of most any material and leave the feet exposed, early unitards were thin and covered the whole body, except for the face and hands. Today, dancers and ice skaters can still be seen wearing flesh-colored unitards to simulate skin. The unitard emerged as a swimsuit in 1906, and can be seen in many early films featuring swimmers.

The History of the Leotard

Jules Leotard (1838–1870), a French acrobatic performer introduced the leotard into the clothing industry. Acrobats, athletes, actors, dancers, and gymnasts are all major fans of the leotard. As the leotard doesn’t cover the legs, it’s ideal for performance training and practice sessions.

Spandex, lycra, and other stretchable fabrics go into the making of a leotard. The unitard is the same as a leotard, except that it covers the legs too.

Similarities and Differences

the difference between leotard and unitard

Why you need to buy both?

Just like you wouldn’t wear your jeans and t’ shirt to a job interview, you wouldn’t generally wear a unitard to a ballet class. Similar to societal rules regarding occasions and everyday clothing the type of dancewear worn to a dance lesson has become a signifier of the type of class you are taking.

I know for myself getting dressed and doing my hair was all preparation for getting my mind and body ready for the style of dance class I was about to take. I can honestly say I never danced in just my leotards and tights in for example a hip hop class. When wearing my leotard and tights my body muscle memory kind of took over and my posture and core muscles immediately engaged in ways more appropriate to ballet dancing, just as wearing my unitard in my contemporary and modern dance classes made me feel more able to explore creative movement and levels such as rolling around the floor that might have felt weird to do in my ‘ballet uniform’.

So it might be a lot of mind over matter because, in reality, you can learn dance in any clothing, but like the saying goes the ‘Suit makes the Man’, and in our case, the unitard makes the contemporary dancer.

Therefore understand your dance studio or teacher wants to give your child the best chance to develop their dancing and by asking them to dress the part and take on the role of a contemporary dancer it simply makes it easier for your child to believe in themselves and learn that style of dance.

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Size Guide

XS 19"-21" 16"-18" 21"-23" 35"-38"
S 21"-23" 18"-20" 23"-25" 38"-41"
M 23"-25" 20"-22" 25"-27" 41"-44"
L 25"-27" 22"-24" 27"-29" 44"-47"
XL 27"-29" 24"-26" 29"-31" 47"-50"
2XL 29"-31" 26"-28" 31"-33" 50"-52"
3XL 31"-33" 28"-30" 33"-35" 52"-54"
XS 48-53CM 40.5-45.5CM 53-58.5CM 89-96.5CM
S 53-58.5CM 45.5-51CM 58.5-63.5CM 96.5-104CM
M 58.5-63.5CM 51-56CM 63.5-68.5CM 104-112CM
L 63.5-68.5CM 56-61CM 68.5-73.5CM 112-119.5CM
XL 68.5-73.5CM 61-66CM 73.5-78.5CM 119.5-127CM
2XL 73.5-78.5CM 66-71CM 78.5-84CM 127-132CM
3XL 78.5-84CM 71-76CM 84-89CM 132-137CM


1. Bust

Measure the fullest part of your bust ensuring your back is straight.

2. Waist

Measure around the narrowest part of your torso.

3. Hips

Measure around the fullest part of your hip ensuring the tape is straight.

4. Girth

Measured in a circle around the shoulder and crotch.

If you have any sizing questions or want customization, please CONTACT US.

Size Guide