Submitted by CedricGR
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The History Of The Unitard Invention
Submitted by CedricGR
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If you ever have a chance to look at the wardrobe of professional acrobats or dancers pay attention to full-body suits which look like leotards with leggings attached. They offer a great freedom of movement though cover the body from shoulders to ankles. These suits are called unitards and here is the short history of their invention.
According to specialists, the unitard derived from leotards - clothes which cover only the upper part of the body. The history of leotards is linked to the French gymnast Jules Leotard, the inventor of the flying trapeze act. Jules Leotard was born in 1840's in Toulouse and started to train under his father's supervision at a young age. Though he didn't plan to embrace sports professionally and began law studies. Once Jules spotted trapeze bars and ropes at his father's gym which led to the invention of his complicated acrobatic tricks. The tricks imposed wearing stretching clothes such as the present-day unitards so Jules created a snugly fitting costume which was called after him.
There is no exact information who invented the unitard but many sources attribute its invention to Annette Marie Sarah Kellerman. She professionally practised swimming and became well-known around the world thanks to her high diving performance. In the beginning of the 20th century she toured with her diving show in England and was supposed to perform in London in 1905. However, she wasn't allowed to wear swimsuits during the performance as it ran counter to the moral norms. Kellman had to sew one-piece suits which covered the whole body but provided great flexibility - unitards. The swimmer challenged the existing moral norms which obliged women to wear dresses when swimming; she took a leotard and attached footless tights to it. Though Kellman's invention was more comfortable for swimming it took a while till women were allowed to wear the tight fitting bathing suit. The incident in London was followed by Kellman's arrest in the United States of America when she was charged for wearing her innovative bathing item.
Later the unitard was worn by stage performers who wanted to create the effect of nudity and was popularised with the invention of photography as many models wore flesh-coloured one-piece suits for the same purpose. The flesh-coloured unitards were also worn by sportsmen; the tight fitting garment allowed them to emphasise all the muscles of their trained body without being nude. Later the unitard conquered the cinema industry when actors appeared in the garment in the first Hollywood films and gradually became an inherent part of fitness gear.
The unitard has undergone many changes in terms of materials and designs. The invention of Lycra made it tighter and more stretching which is an additional benefit for professional dancers and sportsmen. Now it is available in a great range of options depending on the sleeve length and neckline shape. There are also models featuring hoods, full feet and fingers as well as strapless items. However, the most popular type of unitards still resembles the original variant: footless garments which cover the legs and the torso.
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