What comes to mind when you think of leg warmers? Do you immediately think of the classic films “Flashdance” and “Fame”? Or perhaps you wore them for their true purpose, as a way to keep your calves warm during ballet class?
There’s one thing for sure, the 1980s welcomed leg warmers in a big way, along with popular dance fitness classes, off-the-shoulder sweaters, and neon spandex.
One Google search garners thousands of images of super high-cut leotards, feathered hair, and mismatched colors. However, we don’t need to go down that route to make leg warmers fashion-forward.
If you’ve secretly been harboring a hankering to wear leg warmers in 2020, follow that craving! Leg warmers can be fashionable, functional, and downright cool. Welcome to our guide for how to wear leg warmers (in a totally non-80’s costume party way).
Yoga class chic: leotard, tights, skirt, and sneakers
Celebrity inspiration: it would be completely disingenuous if we didn’t start with the Queen of 1980s leg warmer fashion, Heather Locklear. The aerobics beauty served ultimate retro looks complete with low-cut, strappy leotards worn over tights, and thigh-high leg warmers.
Let’s deconstruct this look to make it 2020-chic! Layer a leotard, skirt, tights, and leg warmers with sneakers for an “aerobics teacher off duty” look you can wear to, during, and from the gym, with coffee and brunch in between.
- Choose a leotard in a dark, neutral tone such as black or deep navy
- For Winter, opt for a ¾ or full-sleeved leotard with a high neck. For Summer and Spring, go for a V-neckline and spaghetti straps
- Layer with a cropped, fitted, wraparound cardigan (ballet style!)
- Opt for footless or stirrup leggings or tights in either a nude-pink shade or black
- Find slouchy, ribbed, high-quality leg warmers to wear over the knee for extra coverage (skip the acrylic and go for a cotton-wool blend)
- Find a mini wrap skirt in either a floaty fabric for Summer or rigid denim or cord for Winter
- Pair with sneakers in a contrasting shade for a pop of color, or keep it cool with fresh white
Sweet thing: mini dress, heels, and high leg warmers
Celebrity inspiration: back in 2017, Chanel showcased leg warmers on the runway in the chicest way, with Kaia Gerber stunning onlookers with a mini knit dress, matching slouchy leg warmers, and a baker boy hat. The look was fresh, cute, a little sexy, and not at all costume-like. Take inspiration from Chanel for a party-ready leg warmer outfit worthy of an entire Etsy store.
- Slouchy, oversized mini dresses work best for this look, such as sweater dresses or shirt dresses. Pick a bigger size and create a custom look by rolling up the sleeves and letting the shoulder fall
- For cooler weather, wear black or golden-nude tights under the leg warmers
- Choose super slouchy, over-the-knee leg warmers in a matching shade to the dress (Kaia’s navy blue is a classic choice!) so that there’s a sliver of thigh left uncovered between the leg warmer and the dress’s hem
- Customize the look with accessories to match the occasion and show your personal style. It might be oversized sunglasses, a cheese cutter hat, or layers of gold costume jewellery
- Pair with heeled ankle boots or pumps for going out, or low boots for easy weekend days
Pair with heeled ankle boots or pumps for going out, or low boots for easy weekend days
Luxury casual wear: soft Cashmere layers
Celebrity inspiration: in September of last year, Jessica Alba appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Taiwan wearing matching caramel-colored knitwear.
She rocked a knit tank, slouchy cardigan, and ribbed leg warmers. Inside the mag, she wore a long-sleeved, zip-up, sweater-style knit bodysuit with nothing else but matching leg warmers…so sexy!
This has to be the ultimate cozy loungewear, perfect for the snowy Christmas season curled up inside with a feel-good film and abundant glasses of mulled wine.
- Work with the clothes you already have in your wardrobe. You may have a favorite knit sweater with an oversized roll neck, perfect! Use that as the base for your outfit
- Shop for leg warmers in soft cashmere (or close to it) in a couple of different colors to give you options. You may like a matching pair a la Jessica, or mix it up with an eclectic mix of color and pattern
- Start with a couch-ready base of a slouchy top and leg warmers, then make it “leaving the house” friendly by layering with tights or leggings, gloves (for super icy weather), a coat, and ankle boots