The Leotard Defined
A leotard is a skin-tight one-piece full-bodied garment with a high or low neckline; long, short, or no sleeves; and a short or no leg. It is often worn for exercise and by performers, including acrobats, gynmasts, dancers, thespians and circus performers.
The leotard takes its name from its inventor, the 19th century aerial gymnast and Frenchman Jules Léotard (1842-1870), who created the original leotard. The first know use of the name leotard is believed to occur in 1886, many years after Léotard's death, although he called the garment a maillot, which is the term we will use in Bikini Science to refer to silhouette when it is used as a swimsuit.
The initial leotards were made for men, although after the development of the maillot swimsuit during the 1910s the silhouette became adopted by women.
In the early days a leotard might also mean a garment with long legs, or what in strict Bikini Science parlance we call a unitard, a leotard is used to refer to a sleeveless, scoop neckline, bare-legged garment. In the modern world a leotard is often made of Spandex and is topologically equivalent to a maillot.
Because Bikini Science treats the maillot as genus of swimwear (there are many species of maillot), we elect not to treat the leotard herein in detail as a swimsuit species director your attention to the maillot tank species. There you will find the leotard's topological equivalent freshly evolving along with thoughts about the resonance between the leotard and the maillot tank.
We have already suggested that the union of the leotard and stockings is the unitard.
Another survivor of Jules Léotard's legacy is the suffix "-tard" which often signifies that a garment is worn for exercise, dance, and on stage. Originally a leotard referred to any such garment, regardless of its sleeve or leg length, but in modern times the naming of tards has become increasingly specialized. Examples of -tards include the maillot (perhaps more properly called a miotard), the topologically similar biketard, and the already discussed unitard.