Fashion, like many other things in history, seems to work in cycles. Bell bottoms came back, afros came back, and the shaggy 70’s look came back left and came back again. The cycle continues in dance wear, and it is apparent when you walk into any hip night club or concert: leotards are making a comeback!
The leotard originally peaked during the days of disco and Fonda in the 1970’s. Today, over 30 years later, the one-piece outfit is popping up in fashion magazines, in concerts, and in vintage boutiques. Leotards are making a comeback on the heels of other 70’s and 80’s apparel like leggings and skinny jeans, and the trend is seemingly being embraced by the masses.
The original leotard first appeared in 1859. Named after the creator, a French aerialist, Jules Leotard, it showed up first during a French flying trapeze performance. The first edition of the garment was a hand-knit jersey that covered him from wrist to ankles. In fact, it was more of a unitard than a true leotard. Stories abound about the revealing nature of the garment drawing as many people as the performance itself, which does not venture that far from the truth of today either.
From ballet artists, to showgirls, to lingerie models, leotards went on to become a part of pop culture through the 1960’s and 1970’s. However, as the late 80’s and 90’s passed, leotards were limited to formal ballet performances and rarely showed up in pop music or the night life of major markets once the hair band era moved on. That is all changing now as the first decade of the 21st century marches toward completion.
The one group who don’t have to be told that leotards are making a comeback is superheroes. Many a comic book hero is dressed in standard leotard and cape attire. In fact, it may be argued that Halloween and the affinity of young boys for super heroes is what kept the leotard industry alive through the last decade.
It is true, leotards are making a comeback. Nearly 20 years since hair bands and unitard costumes went the way of the dodo, the leotard look is coming back with performers, dancers, and clubbers alike. The new trend is finding its way into the pop culture consciousness by being simple, sexy, and vintage. Everything in history goes in cycles, including fashion, so it is no surprise the one piece clothing wonder is back. What’s next, moon boots and parachute pants? Stay tuned since the advancement of the leotard can be seen as an announcement that anything can come back as long as pop stars are willing to put them front and center.
So get used to leotards making a comeback. Whether you choose to participate in the vintage movement or not, it is coming. It has been in and been out and back in again since its 19th century trapeze beginnings, which means that leotards are more timeless than most anything in the fashion spectrum.