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Leg warmers trend for 2023 are anything but nostalgic
Fashion

Leg warmers trend for 2023 are anything but nostalgic

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Leg warmers spread across all sports disciplines and until the 1970s they limited themselves to doing what the name expresses. Then, towards the end of the decade, as attention towards sports fashion grows, the conception changes and they begin to be considered real accessories in the same way as terry cloth bands and cuffs and so leg warmers are chosen in bright colours, in contrast, with the vivid shades of tight spandex suits, or lycra bodysuits worn with colored stockings. In less than no time it’s the eighties and the image of the American with backcombed hair Jane Fonda doing pilates in the living room with a private instructor or in front of a cathode ray tube television in a flamboyant outfit including leg warmers becomes distinctive of the period in the collective imagination.

To make matters worse comes Flashdance, 1983, one of the most influential films of the time, and, combined with a simple black leotard, the leg warmers suddenly change their appearance, proving that they can also marry a more refined aesthetic. Like any great pop phenomenon, the inspiration goes from the big screen to the streets and the legwarmers end up carving out a niche of their own, which doesn’t necessarily have to do with sport, but more than anything else it associates with a kind of carefree childish mischief, to a girly schoolgirl look. Leg warmers become part of the school uniform, especially in Japan always and forever, the combination of pleated skirt, leg warmers and moccasin is among the cornerstones of Japanese fashion both in anime and in real life, giving life to a transversal style that goes from authentic school uniforms to faithful reinterpretations of the gyaru subculture a distortion of the English slang “gal”  introduced in the Seventies but still present, up to the extravagant outfits of lolita fashion whether goth or sweet which invades the streets of Harajuku and combines them with mary jane shoes with a maxi plaform often embellished with pendants, rhinestones and bows.

From here, leg warmers have taken different paths, but in a certain sense they have always remained associated with a youthful spirit, now conforming and devoted to a cute and feminine aesthetic, now more rebellious and against the tide. In 1998, the video for Baby One More Time was released, one of the most iconic moments in the history of pop and mass culture, and although Britney Spears does not wear leg warmers with her school uniform, she does a backup dancer right behind her, it’s enough to rekindle the trend, which will later become a workhorse of 2000s fashion. If on the one hand Paris Hilton, the undisputed glam queen, treads the red carpet on duty nonchalantly showing off leg warmers with heels, and on the other hand Madonna revives the acrobatic spirit of the eighties by showing them off in the Hung Up video, on the other hand the accessory transforms completely when it is reimagined in goth key from nascent subcultures, such as emo and scene queens in black and white/purple/fuchsia stripes or enriched with laces and leather details, the leg warmers can also be worn with fishnet stockings better if broken and New Rock, the naughty shoe par excellence, with a maxi tank platform and metal bones to secure the laces.

In short, in the 2000s the wool accessory made more or less everyone agreed and, given the current nostalgia for that time and the renewed love for the Y2K style, the return of leg warmers also promoted by Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa was practically inevitable. Even today, the iridescent nature and ironic subtext of leg warmers make them compatible with the most diverse styles from the lady’s satin ballerina to the chunky moccasin, from mini UGGs to kitten heels for an unexpected result. Balletcore has something to do with it, among the many trends born from social media that have taken the street and catwalk by storm as the name suggests, it is a reinterpretation of the ballerina style starting from the homonymous flat shoe, with Miu Miu’s among the most desired of the year. On the other hand, it’s also due to the return of the schoolgirl aesthetic what would go better with a pair of Prada moccasins and a pleated micro skirt?

But, if the Prada brands offer an answer to all the micro-trends of the moment, there are not only classic interpretations, quite the contrary. For Fall Winter and Spring Summer 2023, the brands have really left room for imagination and exploration, among exaggerated shapes and new materials, the true potential of leg warmers. For AVAVAV, Beate Karlsson continued in the line of humor emblematic of the brand by transforming the legs of the models into yeti paws with maxi leg warmers covered in faux fur, which also wink at some avant-garde styles of the Seventies. For Vaquera Fall Winter 2023 the possibilities are endless, from padded leg warmers in red satin to furry ones covered in glitter and combined with eighties tracksuits. Among the most copied interpretations of all, however, there are Coperni’s denim leg warmers/gaiters, held above the knee by leather straps and with a classic trouser cut. The brand of Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant is not wrong.

This article was originally published on Harper’s Bazaar Italy