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.
Everything in the 80s was big, including our 80s accessories. One of the most popular accessories of the decade was the big, fat belt. Every girl had at least one and if you were lucky, you had a drawer full of them.
We needed the big, fat belt for a few reasons. First of all, you wanted to load your body with as many clothes and accessories as possible. Lots of layers, plenty of jewelry, and tons of 80s accessories. But the belt could also help you create that totally 80s silhouette. It cinched just above your hips, keeping the top part of your shirt baggy but defining your waist.
You had to wear a nice, big and totally oversized shirt with your big, fat belt. You might wear a large tee with a smaller one (or a tank) underneath. Since layers were all the rage, clothing and accessories had to be positioned carefully so the world could see all your layers. It was all part of the look.
Belts were just one of many 80s accessories that were raging popular throughout the decade. But these belts didn’t make it all the way to the end. Their popularity died down by 1988 and by the end of the 80s, they were pretty much gone, making them just another of many 80s fads that disappeared before we were all forced into the 90s.
They came in all shapes and colors. Many of them were specially cut on an angle so they’d fit right and so your shirt wouldn’t get all hiked up and twisted. Problem was, no matter how they were cut, they usually slid around and twisted out of place. Like many 80s accessories, big, fat belts could be a pain to wear, even though they looked wicked awesome. 80s fashion was style over comfort though, so we totally rocked them.
You could get them in basic shades like black and white but it was better to be bold in the 80s, so if you could pick one up in in bright red or purple, you were ready for the catwalk. Print and patterned belts were even better and made a total 80s statement that said: I’m an 80s fashion rock star.
If you had any clue about 80s fashion, you probably had a decent collection of belts and a few of them were thick. First, you put on a tank top, maybe a black one. Over that, a red tank top just big enough that you could see the black one underneath. Then you’d button up a super oversized blouse, one that was so big, you felt like you were swimming in it. It came down past your bottom and maybe reached all the way to your knees. You left the top buttons open so the world could see your layered tanks underneath. Then you dug through your 80s accessories to find a crazy fat belt and snapped it over your shirts. You could wear jeans, leggings, or a skirt with the getup, but that belt made everything come together.
And it was over the top like everything else in the 80s.