And then came the 1983 movie “Flashdance.” Suddenly leg warmers were everywhere, and could reliably be found on the legs of girls in junior high and high schools — especially those with no interest in dance. (How else do you explain wearing them over jeans?)
Although the popularity of leg warmers in the ’80s was a pretty short-lived fad (in terms of longevity, it was right up there with the brief but sad ruffled prairie shirt trend), it wasn’t Pet Rock-level nonsense.
For a couple of years, these stretchy, slouchy sweaters in the shape of a footless sock were a trendy, colorful way to show some creative flair, to prove that you were up on the latest fashions… and, yes, even to warm up your legs when it was cold outside.
Of course, you can still buy leg warmers today — and you won’t even need to navigate through a crush of schoolgirls at the mall to get a pair you like.
Leg warmers: A colorful, yet practical, fashion fad (1983)
By Beverly Garrison – Johnson City Press (Johnson City, Tennessee) January 28, 1983
Remember winters in the ’60s, when miniskirts were popular? A woman’s poor legs and knees were usually blue from the cold.
Thank goodness today’s latest fad is more practical. The single biggest accessory for winter 1982-83 seems to be leg warmers — colorful knit accessories that resemble sweaters for the legs.
This year, a women’s legs may be blue, or green, or yellow, or multi-striped. Leg warmers come in all colors and patterns that resemble modern art. New pastels for spring are now coming into area stores.
Margaret Patrick, manager of Parklane Hosiery in the Mall, said leg warmers were the best-selling single item during Christmas. “You wouldn’t believe the number we sold,” she said.
“You’ll find leg warmers on everyone from age three to people in nursing homes,” Ms. Patrick said. “They really provide warmth for older people who sit around a lot.”
But the biggest market for the accessory is among teenagers, who wear them over their jeans.
“Lots of older people wear the leg warmers under their slacks, for additional warmth,” said Ms. Patrick. “And I’ve even sold them to men who work outside, and also wear them under their slacks.”
Leg warmers were first worn by dancers to keep their legs warm and prevent muscle cramps. “Dancers still buy them, of course,” said Ms. Patrick. “They’re just part of the uniform.”
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This winter, you’ll see leg warmers on school campuses. And you’ll also see them worn in business offices, grocery stores or shopping.
The most popular way to wear leg warmers is over jeans or cords. Pull them up over the knee, but never thigh high — they need a wrinkled look.
Don’t leave any of your jeans poking out under the leg warmer, and never wear them with high heels.
If you’re wearing one of the new short skirts and still want to keep your legs warm, wear opaque stockings and legwarmers with an ankle boot.
It’s permissible to pair leg warmers over opaque stockings with Bermuda shorts.
Leg warmers can be worn in just about every conceivable way, said Ms. Patrick. “It’s a matter of personal preference.”
Leg warmers are fun fashion fad. Enjoy them while they’re here since, like most fads, they probably won’t be around long.
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Actress Heather Locklear in striped legwarmers
Actress Linda Evans in a blue & white leotard and white leg warmers
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Joanie Greggains of the old ‘Morning Stretch TV show’ (1982)
Joanie’s sporting some striped red and white workout gear to help her help women thin those thighs.
Moody 1980s girl wearing leotards and leg warmers
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Women in the 80s at a gym/ dance class with leotards, tights & leg warmers
1980s fashionable fitness gear
Actress Jane Fonda’s workout – in leg warmers
Remember how big Jane Fonda’s famous workout videos were in the eighties?
Peppy preppy pastel workout gear with leg warmers (1980s)
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