TikTok’s latest trend revival: leg warmers

Last Halloween we saw every it-girl embody Natalie Portman’s femme fatale Black Swan, and it seems many are recycling their costumes. Balletcore has been the desired aesthetic since springtime, but the latest addition of ’80s nostalgia leg warmers is the perfect winter upgrade. 

Balletcore as a whole can be traced back to the trendsetting Miu Miu AW22 collection that debuted in October at Paris Fashion week. The collection included slouchy neutral leg warmers paired with strapped satin ballet pumps, à la Miu Miu SS16. The show inspired an influx of off-duty ballerina looks infiltrating the high street. With winter months among us, leg warmers are essential to battle the blistering British weather whilst serving balletcore. 

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As with many trend revivals, TikTok is flooded with styling inspo. If you have been on TikTok at all over the past few weeks it is clear that the 80s staple is Gen Z’s latest hot pick. With over 153 million views of the #legwarmers, the garment usually reserved for the rehearsal studio, or an ‘80s-themed party, has filled our “For You” pages. 

TikToker Sammi Oliver has attracted over 545.4k likes on her hyper-feminine ‘fits, which are almost always accessorised with a chunky leg warmer. “My favourite way to style leg warmers is with a cute pleated skirt or dress,” she continues, “I love the practical fact that they keep you warm.” Oliver’s love of leg warmers is shared amongst her 16.2k followers, with her videos styling the accessory garnering the most double taps. 


day 4 🤎 leg warmers are definitely my favourite autumn accessory :)) #autumnootd #outfitinspo #30daysofoutfits #fitcheck #ootd #outfitideas #legwarmers #coquette #coquetteaesthetic #fypシ #viral #pinterestoutfit

♬ Atlantis (Extra Sped Up Version) – Seafret

The ever sustainability-savvy Gen Z of TikTok have also filled the app with helpful DIY tips to make the look at home, using old jumpers, tights and hoodies. Acknowledging the accessibility of the trend, seamstress and avid crocheter Mathilda Niclazon says, “I think the trend is great because it gives people the possibility to make something themselves.” Sharing her tips to DIY the trend, Niclazon adds, “You can use something you already have, a pair of tights and cutting them up, or crocheting them, or go to your local charity shop and buy an old piece of fabric and just make it yourself.” 

This sentiment is shared by @sarahsakurah on TikTok, whose video DIY-ing her own leg warmers reached 1.8M views on the app. “I wanted to inspire other people to DIY,” she says. “The best part about this DIY technique is no sewing is required and you can up-cycle your own clothes.”

@sarahsakurah Replying to @miner hope this helped ???????? #outfitinspiration #tutorial #legwarmers #fyp ♬ Forget – Slowed Down – Storm Lake

TikTok is not the only place one can see iterations of the accessory. Everyone’s favourite model of the year, Miss Bella Hadid has been channeling her inner Xanadu since October, sporting the accessory in both ‘fit checks and candid travel pics posted to her Instagram. Doja Cat is another lover of the trend, taking it from balletcore to badass with a striking fur pair back in September. 


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A post shared by Bella ???? (@bellahadid)

The knitted accessory hasn’t always been synonymous with trendy streetwear. The leg warmer was originally invented as a way to keep dancers’ muscles warm and prevent cramping. However it was in the 1980s that the legwarmer truly left its multicolour mark. With Jane Fonda revolutionising at-home workouts and the kids of Fame flooding everyone’s TV sets, the legwarmer is nostalgic of the age of the garish leotard paired with neon tights. With its latest Gen Z styled iteration, there is a new chapter in leg warmer history.  

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