A leotard is a tight fitting clothing piece as part of a practice or performance outfit for dancers that covers the torso and typically straps around the shoulders. Leotards come in many varieties, including differences in sleeve lengths (long-sleeve, mid arm, cap) and straps around the shoulders or back (spaghetti strap, racer back, thick strap). The general look of a leotard resembles a one-piece female bathing suit.
They are most commonly worn by girls and women in ballet, and other dance forms, and are almost always a mandatory uniform in dance schools. Leotards are also made specifically for boys and men, though with much less variety as there is less of a focus on fashion or design.
There are almost countless varieties, designs, fabric choices, colors and designs for leotards today. Some leotard companies allow you to “design your own” where a dancer can select a style, color and fabric from the offered choices.
In ballet and dance schools, leotards for girls are often part of the uniform, even down to a specific style and/or color for specific levels. These types of leotards are often more plain compared to other “more fun” choices, but are ideal for students because they are almost always of a refined, clean line, classic style and don’t distract during class. It is easy to understand why many girls interested in fashion may go overboard and focus on the fashion aspect of ballet rather than the actual technique being taught.