80s Leg Warmers
Originally used by dancers and fitness buffs to keep legs warm and muscles loose, leg warmers, as a fashion statement, became a huge trend in the early 80s.
Watch any exercise video produced during the 80s, especially if it involves aerobics, and a leg warmer sighting is a sure thing.
Between the slouch socks and 80s leg warmers, women never had to fear cold ankles or calves ever again.
Leg warmers were incredibly versatile. The array of colors readily available could match or contrast any color in any outfit, and since the 80s were all about wild colors, they were perfect for adding a splash of color.
Almost all 80s leg warmers also came in abstract and geometric patterns, as well as vertical and horizontal stripes.
Synthetic fabrics, partly because of the pure need for neon, replaced the original wool versions in subdued colors worn by dancers, which women were thankful for since they wore them even in the middle of summer.
Also capable of being dressed up or down, they went with any footwear from high-tops to high heels and any shoe in between.
These stretchy, toasty tubes of fabric could go with nearly anything; mini-skirts for the dressy look, shorts for the sporty look, and with destructed acid-washed jeans for the casual look.
Stuffed into the tops of sneakers, pulled under heels inside a pair of flats or stretched around the tops of boots or heels, leg warmers could do anything.
Since legwarmers are essentially just tubes of knit fabric with a little stretch and some elastic, they are easy to make, even without a sewing machine, and many people did just that.
The easiest way to make them was to cut the feet off a pair of socks at the ankle. Men’s striped tube socks were perfect for this. Another simple way to make leg warmers was to use the arms of an old sweater.
If the sweater had elasticized wrists, the job was already half done; the only extra work would be to sew in strips of elastic around the raw edge left from cutting the sweater. If you were handy with a sewing machine, two rectangle-shaped pieces of knit fabric and four strips of elastic were all that was needed to make custom leg warmers to match any 80s outfit.
Crochet and knitting techniques could also make the perfect pair, even without elastic. Although it was easier to buy a pair, and they were readily available everywhere, if someone was bored, crafty and creative, they could take the 80s trend to the next level and make a pair of leg warmers that couldn’t be found anywhere else.
The 80s were all about originality, color and layers, so a little craftiness went a long way. 80s Movies like Fame and Flash Dance certainly helped launch leg warmers into mainstream fashion. People could now look like an awesome dancer without actually being an awesome dancer.
The versatility and trendiness of 80s leg warmers were, however, short-lived. They remained popular until about 1987, but history has a way of repeating itself, and leg warmers have recently been getting a lot of attention in the fashion world once again.