As a kid growing up in the 80s, I wore my leg warmers out.
Leg warmers could be found just about anywhere. They were wearing them on TV, in the movies, and even in schoolyards. As far as 80s accessories go, leg warmers were about as rad as it got.
You Wanted Leg Warmers
You wanted as many pairs of leg warmers as possible. If you were lucky, you had a pair for every outfit. Or at least each pair of shoes. They rounded out your big awesome collection of essential 80s accessories because they went with just about everything.
You could wear them to school, to a friend’s house, out on the town. And of course, you could totally wear them to aerobics class. Oh yes, aerobics were big in the 80s. Everyone was trying to be a Solid Gold dancer and you couldn’t do that without a solid collection of leg warmers and some wicked awesome dance moves.
The funny thing was that leg warmers weren’t that easy to find, even though they were like the most popular of all 80s accessories. You totally had to search if you wanted to build up a tubular collection of leg warmers. Sure, you could get them at dance wear shops, but those ones were usually plain and boring. You could find wilder patterns and colors of leg warmers at departments stores. And that was, like, way before the internet. So you for sure couldn’t buy them online.
80s Fashion and the Decade of Dance
If there was one running theme in 80s fashion, it was BIG. Everything was oversized and bold. If there was a second theme, it was dance. The 80s sparked a whole new dance craze that leaked into 80s fashion, and the 80s accessories were no exception.
We used to wear leotards, like, every day. Yes, you pulled your jeans on right over your leotards and then pulled your leg warmers on over your jeans. Other 80s accessories inspired by dance wear were the off-the-shoulder cutoff sweatshirt and the sweatbands that we wore as stylish headbands, ala Olivia Newton John’s song and music video, “Physical.”
But when it came to the marriage of dance and fashion, not one of the 80s accessories could beat out leg warmers.
80s Accessories and Leg Warmers Layered
Most 80s accessories that came from dance style were altered for everyday wear. You didn’t actually wear a sweatband on your head. No. You used a ribbon or a piece of scrap material. I used to cut up old t-shirts. Even the leotards you wore out and about weren’t the same ones you actually wore to aerobics.
But not leg warmers. You bought them and wore them just as they were. And you layered them too. You totally layered everything in the 80s.
We layered shirts, tights, pants, and socks. We would’ve layered shoes if we could’ve found a way to do it and lord knows, somebody probably did. Leg warmers were totally perfect for layering, especially with some bitchen neon socks and two different colored sneakers.
Love That 80s Fashion
We slid them on over our pants and under our skirts. Sometimes we tucked them into our socks. Other times, we rolled them down over our boots. Leg warmers were an 80s fashion necessity. And they make little comebacks every now and then. Which is a good thing. For sure.
Look around and you’ll occasionally see someone rocking leg warmers. Just go to any dance studio and you’ll find them. Lately, they’ve been popping up as a retro trend. You better go find yourself a pair.
But no matter who’s wearing them now, to those of us who grew up in the most bodacious decade ever, leg warmers will always belong to 80s fashion.