Ask Difference

Unitard vs. Leotard — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on September 22, 2023
A unitard is a one-piece, skin-tight garment that covers the torso and both legs. A leotard is similar but covers only the torso and crotch, leaving the legs exposed. Both are commonly used in dance, gymnastics, and performing arts.
Unitard vs. Leotard — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Unitard and Leotard


Key Differences

A unitard is a skin-tight, one-piece garment that covers the upper body, extends down the legs, and usually covers the entire arm as well. Leotards, in contrast, are also one-piece, form-fitting garments but they cover only the torso, leaving the legs free.
Unitards are often worn for activities that require full-body coverage without restricting movement, such as circus performances or certain types of dance. Leotards are more commonly seen in ballet, gymnastics, and other activities where leg mobility is crucial.
While unitards offer more coverage, leotards allow for greater ease of movement in the legs. In performing arts, the choice between a unitard and a leotard often depends on the specific demands of the performance.
The fabrics used for both unitards and leotards are designed to be stretchy and breathable, usually consisting of a blend of spandex, cotton, and/or polyester. However, the fabric may vary depending on the intended activity.
Both unitards and leotards come in various styles and designs, including variations in necklines, sleeve lengths, and back designs. However, unitards may also include features like foot stirrups or thumbholes to ensure full-body coverage.

Comparison Chart


Torso and legs
Torso only

Common Uses

Dance, circus, aerobics
Dance, gymnastics


Full body
Primarily upper body


Stretchy, breathable
Stretchy, breathable

Additional Features

Foot stirrups, thumbholes

Compare with Definitions


One-piece garment covering both torso and legs.
She wore a unitard for the aerial silk performance.


Also made from stretchy, breathable materials.
The leotard was made of a cotton-spandex blend.


Often includes sleeves.
The unitard had long sleeves for added aesthetic.


One-piece garment covering the torso.
She wore a leotard for her ballet performance.


Used in dance and circus performances.
Unitards are popular in contemporary dance.


Sleeve length varies.
The leotard had short sleeves to allow for better movement.


May have foot stirrups or thumbholes.
The unitard's thumbholes kept the sleeves in place.


Commonly used in dance and gymnastics.
Leotards are a staple in gymnastics attire.


Made from stretchy, breathable material.
The unitard was made of a spandex-polyester blend.


Leaves the legs exposed.
The leotard was cut high to expose the legs.


A unitard is a skintight, one-piece garment with long legs and sometimes long sleeves, usually stopping at the wrists and ankles. It differs from a leotard which does not have long legs.


A leotard () is a unisex skin-tight one-piece garment that covers the torso from the crotch to the shoulder. The garment was made famous by the French acrobatic performer Jules Léotard (1838–1870).


A one-piece tight-fitting leotard and tights combination.


A snugly fitting, stretchable one-piece garment with or without sleeves that covers the torso, worn especially by dancers, gymnasts, acrobats, and those engaging in exercise workouts.


A skin-tight garment covering the torso and the legs, sometimes the arms and feet.


A one-piece skintight garment with or without sleeves and without legs (often worn by gymnasts, acrobats, wrestlers, female swimmers, etc.)


A tight-fitting garment of stretchy material that covers the body from the shoulders to the thighs (and may have long sleeves or legs reaching down to the ankles); worn by ballet dancers and acrobats for practice or performance


A tight-fitting garment of stretchy material that covers the body from the shoulders to the thighs (and may have long sleeves or legs reaching down to the ankles); worn by ballet dancers and acrobats for practice or performance

Common Curiosities

Do unitards cover the feet?

Some unitards come with foot stirrups, but not all cover the feet.

Do leotards have zippers?

Some styles might have zippers, but most are slip-on.

Are unitards good for swimming?

While similar, unitards for swimming are specifically designed and are different from those used for dance or performance.

Can you wear something over a leotard?

Yes, it's common to wear skirts or shorts over a leotard.

Are unitards unisex?

Yes, unitards are made for both men and women.

Can unitards be worn for yoga?

Yes, unitards are commonly worn for yoga.

Can I wear a unitard for cycling?

While not common, some cyclists do wear unitards for aerodynamics.

Are leotards and bathing suits the same?

They are similar but are made of different materials suitable for their specific uses.

Are leotards comfortable?

They are designed for comfort and mobility, but comfort can be subjective.

Do unitards come in plus sizes?

Yes, many brands offer plus-sized options.

Are leotards machine washable?

Usually, but always check the care instructions.

What is a tank leotard?

A tank leotard is a leotard with thick straps and no sleeves.

Are leotards only for dancers?

No, leotards are also used in gymnastics, aerobics, and other activities.

Do unitards offer UV protection?

Some specially designed unitards do offer UV protection.

How do I choose between a unitard and a leotard?

Consider the activity, the level of coverage needed, and personal comfort.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Previous Comparison
Adhesion vs. Cohesion
Next Comparison
Calm vs. Steady

Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms