Olympic Style: The Lovely Gymnastics Leotard Through The Years (PHOTOS)

07/25/2012 08:45 am ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

When I was younger, I was obsessed with gymnastics. I'd pore over books in the library about my heroes Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton. I also dreamed of moving to Texas to be coached by Bela Karolyi, and eventually, take my place on the podium at the Olympic Games.

Alas, that was never going to happen. I was too tall, even as an adolescent, and the fear of breaking my neck superseded my dreams of bringing home the gold. But I still love to watch gymnastics -- in fact, it's the only sport I enjoy watching. The acrobatics are one thing, but it's the fashion that really gets me.

The gymnasts wear leotards that show off their taut bodies and perfect form, and the colors and sparkles will hold your attention even if their incredible gravity-defying feats don't. These elite athletes are as dressed up as any pop star waiting to take the stage. Hair? Pulled back into a neat bun. Makeup? As much glitter as possible. Itsy bitsy costume? Check. We think that even Lady Gaga would appreciate their sometimes over-the-top looks.

But gymnastics leotards haven't always been as dramatic as they are today. In fact, some of the first competitors wore uniforms more akin to dresses. Over the years, their uniforms have become more eye-catching (not to mention more skimpy!).

While I may wish that I'd taken my gymnastics aspirations further, upon closer inspection of these girls in their leotards, I can take comfort in the loose clothing I get to wear every day.

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Olympic Leotards Through The Ages