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Leg warmers of the 80's: history and photo gallery  

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This gallery takes you through some styles of leg warmers of the 80's. Leg warmers started with dancers - and are still worn by many today. The prmiary function is to kep legs warm in cooler weather and prevent muscle cramping. The tightness may have also assisted.

By around 1982 leg warmers began to make an appearance in wider society: you could now pretend you were a dancer by wearing leg warmers over the top of your jeans. This is something a dancer at the time would refuse to do. Leg warmers were no longer black or some other functional colour. Now they were speckled, fluoro and some were worn so low that they would have been better known as ankle warmers. The hard core would wear them to a sweaty nightclub - even in summer. Strangely, leg warmers managed to hang around a little longer than many other 80's fashions and they didn't meet their fate until late 1984. By 85, they were extinct. Few samples of 80's fashion leg warmers exist today, although you can still buy the modern bland versions at some dance supply shops.

Probably the most influential forces behind the leg warmer fad were the films Fame and Footloose, and the TV series of Fame. Dispite the fact Dirty Dancing is both about dancing and filmed in the 80s (1987), the film was released far too late to contribute to the 80s leg warmer fad. In the Irene Cara video clip 'What a feeling', it would appear the dancer is wearing leg warmers. However, these are far more likely to be a type of angle-high shoe popular in 1987. In addition, the period for the Dirty Dancing is the 60s, and thankfully it tried to steer away from 80s fashion (although one look at the hairstyles of the actors would suggest they didn't try too hard).


Tracking down pictures of leg warmers is very tough, if you have any good pictures then send us an email. Thankfully, leg warmers were immortalised in the film clip 'Footloose' (Kenny Loggins) the only record in pop culture that reflects the diversity of a fashion item that most people wouldn't wear now.

Screen captures from Footloose, copyright Sony Music.

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