During the 1970s a fitness craze swept the United States. Jogging and fast movement exercise classes called aerobics became popular leisure activities. Fashion followed the exercise trend, and it soon became fashionable to dress like an athlete, whether or not one actually participated in fitness activities. Specialty shoes, sweat clothes, leotards, and tights became fashionable for street wear, and over these it was popular for women to layer knitted leg warmers, tubes of fabric worn on the leg, reaching from knee or thigh to ankle.
Often made of wool or cotton and knitted like a big, loose, footless sock, leg warmers were commonly used by dancers to keep their leg muscles warm and flexible while wearing dance tights and
Leg warmers went out of style by the late 1980s, but they returned in the early twenty-first century. Inspired by Japanese cartoons popular in the West, these modern leg warmers were likely to be made of cotton, leather, fleece, nylon, or faux fur and flared out below the knee.
Bailey, Bill, and Frank Hoffman. Arts and Entertainment Fads. New York: Haworth, 1990.
Sewall, Gilbert T., ed. The Eighties: A Reader. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1997.