How to wear leg warmers for dance

How To Wear Leg Warmers

What To Wear Feb 11

Written by Sheridan Grant

Table of Contents

If you live in a cold climate, you know that leg warmers have never really gone out of style. With that being said, they’re definitely making a big comeback in 2022 and you’re about to see them everywhere. 

Designed for keeping your ankles warm (a spot most jackets and boots don’t cover), these cozy pieces double as a cute and fun accessory.

But, you may be wondering how to wear leg warmers in a way that amplifies your fashion sense and personal style. Thankfully, that’s why this article was written.

And while leg warmers are seemingly easy to style, you’re probably here because you know the truth: it can actually be difficult to decide how to wear leg warmers.

They look awkward with certain shoes, there are a couple of fashion no-nos to keep in mind, and you may feel like your outfit is more of a mish-mash of pieces than a cohesive ensemble. 

So, if you’re looking for more info on how to wear leg warmers, stay tuned. By the end of our guide, you’ll learn the following:

  1. The origins of leg warmers
  2. How to style leg warmers
  3. Multiple leg warmers outfits
  4. Different leg warmers available
  5. How to choose the right pair for you

What is a Leg Warmer?

Leg warmers are exactly what they sound like: they’re fabric coverings that wrap around your shins and ankles to keep you warm. They’re usually footless considering you’re likely wearing some sort of sock and shoe, and they’re often quite thick since coats and shoes keep the rest of your body nice and toasty.  

They can be made from a number of different materials and can vary in length and width depending on the tightness of the knit or fabric.

They’re even said to keep muscles warm to prevent cramping, which is ideal for dancing and working out. 

History of Leg Warmers

Now that you know a little more about these accessories, you may want to learn more about their history. As we mentioned, they were first worn by dancers who wanted to avoid uncomfortable cramping.

Though they had been worn for years already, leg warmers were popularized when David Lee and Trisha Kate opened a dancewear shop in the big apple in the early 80s.

Since exercise and aerobics had become so popular at that point, it only made sense for fashionable workout pieces to become popular as well. 

The film ‘Flashdance’ came out in 1983 and featured leg warmers—alongside other aerobic wear—which kicked this trend into full gear. Suddenly almost everyone was wearing these cozy coverings to gym classes and beyond. 

And like with many trends, which tend to cycle through time, leg warmers are currently back in style. These days, they’re often worn seamlessly over leggings, skinny jeans, and even paired with heels.

With that being said, there are optimal times to wear leg warmers, which we’ll share with you up next. 

When to Wear Leg Warmers

While leg warmers were initially designed for keeping you warm in cool weather, they have plenty of other functions and can easily be worn for numerous occasions.

From trendy fall outfits, trips to the gym, to actually staying cozy, there are a number of reasons to wear this fashionable and functional accessory. 

Basically, whenever you want to look cute and cozy, leg warmers will be your best friend. We’re talking about date nights, early morning breakfasts, at ski resorts, and on any chilly days.

In other words, the cool weather doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to wear what you want and maintain your sense of style!

And while leg warmers with jeans can look stellar, never pair them with wide-leg bottoms. There would be way too much awkward tucking and folding that it’s not worth it, and this outfit would look pretty strange and poofy too.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to style leg warmers, which we’ll outline down below.

How to Wear Leg Warmers

Now that you know when people wear them, you still may be wondering how to wear leg warmers.

There are loads of different ways to style an outfit around these accessories, and even elevate your look by wearing them. Choosing a leg warmers outfit shouldn’t be complicated, so we’ll make it super easy for you with our expert tips.

As we mentioned, a skinny pant is definitely a classic and comfortable option, and there are a variety of bottoms to choose from, including leggings, jeans, tights, and more. They can also pair seamlessly with different shoes, from boots to sneakers to heels. 

The classic oversized fit has cozy winter vibes, so leg warmers are an ideal option for making your winter wardrobe look even more stylish while also being fully functional.

If you prefer the classic leg warmer style, be sure to bunch them up around your ankle slightly and pull them over the heel of your foot.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best 10 ideas for how to wear leg warmers down below. Learning how to style leg warmers will be easy with the help of our guide.

10 Outfit Ideas with Leg Warmers

1. Fall Ready

As the leaves start to fall, the weather begins to change, and suddenly the cool air is nipping at your exposed ankles. With a pair of leg warmers peeking out from some warm, brown knee-high boots, you’ll be ready for those cooler days.

An oversized turtleneck in a deep eggplant color will definitely create those fall vibes, while thick leggings will fit seamlessly beneath your leg warmers and boots.

Of course, a good bag is a must for all your travels, so choose one that matches the warm leather in the boots.

2. Warm and Cozy

Whether you want to stay home or go out, you can’t go wrong with an oversized, gray turtleneck with a cable-knit fabric. Keep the cool tones going with some matching gray, cable-knit leg warmers scrunched around your ankles and heels.

A pair of fitted, light gray socks and some cozy black leggings will complete your stylish outfit. 

We also recommend tying back your hair in a sleek low bun for the perfect at-home look that will work very well for Zoom meetings, or IRL outings.

3. Winter Wonderland

Once the snow starts to fall, you’ll definitely want to be as warm as possible. Pair your creamy, scrunched-up leg warmers with an oversized black puffer coat, fitted black leggings, and a good ol’ pair of winter boots for a stylish look. 

Of course, sunnies are a must to protect your eyes from the bright winter sun and a black top will complete the monochrome theme of this outfit.

To brighten things up, top it all off with a pom-pom hat and a warm drink in hand and you’ll be ready to go.

4. Chunky Boots

Leg warmers and chunky boots seem like such a simple option. This classy look features a pleated beige skirt, a black long-sleeve top with a sweetheart neckline, and some sheer black tights.

The chunky boots and black leg warmers add an edgy touch to the otherwise sophisticated ensemble.

5. With a Skirt

Cooler days shouldn’t mean you can’t wear your favorite short skirt—simply slip on a pair of bright white leg warmers and you’ll be nice and toasty. The sky blue skirt contrasts against the light-colored leg warmers for an eye-catching and unique look. 

And if you’re on the hunt for a grunge style, chunky boots and a fitted graphic tee will complete the ensemble. Of course, a shag haircut will definitely help, but you could always opt for super straight hair instead, which is also really chic.

6. Oversized Sweater Dresses

Chances are you’ve already got an oversized sweatshirt in your closet. And chances are you already wear it around your home, pants free. For public outings, try wearing a pair of biker shorts underneath as well as layering with a white turtleneck for some visual interest.

Keep things casual with your fave sneakers and throw on some loose-fitting, lightly colored leg warmers to complete the relaxed look. 

7. Grunge

Leg warmers can conform to many different styles, but layer a bunch of shades of black together in one outfit, and you’ll definitely have a grunge look. With an oversized black denim jacket, a gray button-down shirt, and a distressed skirt, this outfit totally has a grungy vibe. 

But the chunky boots, fitted gray leggings, and black leg warmers pull the look together. Layering is definitely key here, along with the dark tones (and the leg warmers help with both).

8. Makin’ your way Downtown

If you want to look stylish and sleek when you’re walking the city streets, a cohesive and minimalist look is definitely what you need. With black and white shades from bottom to top, this fit features plenty of layers and simple touches.

With a black mock-neck top beneath a soft and simple white sweater, as well as a leather skirt and black tights, this look has plenty of color blocking for visual interest. For a put-together yet simple ensemble, the soft white leg warmers match the sweater, while also breaking up the black tones of the boots and the tights. 

9. To the Gym

If you’re recreating the classic aerobics class style, try a fitted bodysuit (high-cut legs are a must), some sheer tights, and, of course, a boldly colored pair of leg warmers. They should also be a bit more fitted for some added compression against your legs, making them both functional and fashionable. 

Plus, of course, a pair of running shoes is a must, since you’ll be heading to and from the gym. To complete the look, try a canvas tote bag, which will hold all your extras and maintain the casual and trendy style.

10. Neutrals

Neutral and monochrome outfits are trendy for a reason. If you’ve got a closet chock full of cool tones and plenty of beiges, it’s pretty easy to pair all your pieces together for a cohesive, no-stress outfit. 

As we’ve mentioned, leg warmers call for layers. With a cozy scarf, cream-colored hat, and an oversized jacket, these leg warmers truly belong with this ensemble. They’re also layered over beige leggings and a heeled bootie for extra toasty vibes.

What Type of Leg Warmers Can You Get?

If you’re wondering how to wear leg warmers, chances are you’re also wondering what types of leg warmers are available. From furry fabrics to cable knits, the options are honestly endless. They also come in different lengths, thicknesses, and colors giving you even more variety. 

You can opt for super thick or thin fabrics depending on your climate, as well as multiple different lengths.

Though they first began as shin coverings, you can now buy leg warmers that go all the way up to your thighs, knees, or instead just peek out from the top of a knee-high pair of boots. 

Speaking of which, leg warmer boots are also a big thing these days. But what are they?

Essentially they’re boots fitted with a thick material that you can stretch up your leg, or tuck overtop of the boot. They’re often removable as well, providing the perfect hybrid of a classic pair of boots and a pair of leg warmers that fit seamlessly together but can also be worn apart. 

Cycling leg warmers are usually made from a super thick lycra material that’s nice and stretchy for easy movement, while also keeping warmth in and offering wind and water resistance. Plus, they provide compression on your legs, which is ideal for a good workout. 

Of course, we all love the classics, and leg warmers have always been known for their oversized, bulky, and scrunched-up fit. Wearing these, you’ll be nice and warm and definitely make a fashion statement at the same time.

How to Choose The Best Leg Warmers for You

Before you consider how to wear leg warmers, it’s important to choose a pair that works with your lifestyle.

If you aren’t using a stationary bike on the daily, cycling leg warmers likely aren’t the ideal choice for you. And if you’re in a warmer climate, then a super thick fabric is definitely something to avoid.  

For workouts, it’s best to wear a pair with moisture-wicking capabilities. Naturally, the seasons require different choices: fall and spring call for thinner fabrics, while a thick-knit pair is definitely the way to go for the winter months. 

Material is definitely an important factor to consider when deciding which leg warmers to wear since fabrics can be either warmer or cooler.

More expensive options are made from wool or cashmere, while common, more affordable alternatives are cotton, synthetic fibers, and chenille, for a soft and cozy look.

Of course, leg warmers shouldn’t be too expensive since they’re an accessory and there’s really not much fabric involved. If you’re in need of a pair for working out, these may be a bit pricier since they have some extra features, and are specifically fabricated to protect your muscles. 

As we mentioned, styles vary widely, and range from furry, knit, to compression designs. And there are also options for a variety of different aesthetics, so it’s important to choose a pair that suits your personal style.

Plus, they can have a looser or tighter fit and also come in longer and shorter options depending on the look you’re going for. 

Since leg warmers come in every color of the rainbow, you can choose a pair that suits your unique taste or matches your favorite color palette.

Overall, there are so many different options for leg warmers to choose from that you should be able to find something that works for what you need and what fits your style, all staying within your personal budget!

How To Take Care Of Leg Warmers

Like many articles of clothing, leg warmers are actually pretty easy to care for. However, the specific care for your leg warmers depends on the fabric.

If you’ve got a cycling pair made from a legging material, you may want to consider washing them on cold and air drying them only.

And if the fabric is a super soft knit, be careful of any shrinkage or snags in the washer. That being said, there are a few general washing instructions to follow to keep your pair lookin’ good as new:

  1. Use a mild detergent
  2. Wash on gentle cycle in cool or warm water
  3. Spin dry on low or air dry
  4. Iron on low if needed 

Here’s another tip for how to wear leg warmers. For longevity, it’s important to stop them from trailing on the ground by tucking them into the back of your shoes or choosing a shorter length.

Best Places to Buy Leg Warmers

If our tips on how to wear leg warmers have you interested in buying a new pair (or two), you’ll be happy to know that they’re widely available. Apart from shoe and athletic stores, here are a few places you can shop for them:

  • Lululemon
  • Etsy
  • Amazon
  • Free People
  • Walmart

Final Thoughts

As we make our way through 2022, it only makes sense to do so in style. And since leg warmers are back on trend, they make a great addition to many outfits.

After reading our guide on how to wear leg warmers, we hope you’ll feel confident trying on a pair with items you’ve already got in your closet, and creating lots of new, chic looks with this cozy accessory.  

On top of that, we hope that braving the cold, attending your new gym class, or simply getting cozy on a chilly day becomes a fun opportunity to flaunt your style by wearing different types of leg warmers—especially now that you know how to find the perfect pair for you.  

Looking to find your next clothing love affair? Check out some of our other comprehensive guides:

How To Wear A Headscarf

How To Wear An Infinity Scarf

How To Wear A Kilt

Get Access to Exclusive Deals

Subscribe for free to get exclusive deals in your inbox. 100% privacy

Beyond the Barre: Leg Warmers?

When I first started dancing I only wore a leotard and tights. I never broke a sweat, and I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing (it was bad). Then I got a pair of leg warmers for Christmas. They were pink and soft and a warm cotton/acrylic blend. They were awesome. I wore them every day in class.

And something changed: instead of doing barre and centre and finishing feeling good, my muscles were legitimately tired after class. I loved the feeling! My flexibility increased because my legs were warmer, and my ankles and toes weren't numb after plies because of the air conditioning.

I continued to wear leg warmers for a good two or three years. I never took them off—literally. I'd put on two pairs before class, and by the time class was over I'd have one pair on, but I still had my legs covered! I had found that if I took them off, my legs would get cold and cramp up.

When I went to summer camp at Carolina Ballet, they didn't let us wear warmers. They kept the studios freezing cold though, and I had a serious problem with my legs just not getting warm. One day I was so cold I was doing plies in between combinations, and the teacher noticed and let me put on my sweat pants because I couldn't do anything my legs were so cold.

That summer, I changed something: I forced myself rather than just releve and hold, I pushed into the ground as hard as  could, engaged all my leg muscles simultaneously, and then held it. and then did it again. after a few of those, I was a lot warmer. And I realized I could warm up without coverings on my legs.

As I got stronger, I learned how to fully utilize my muscles and articulate my movements further: rather than just sticking my leg out there, I was really engaging as much as possible and pushing off the floor, lifting the abs, wrapping my turnout…

Now I only wear warmers until my toes re-gain circulation. I generally take them off before degage (which is fast-paced enough that I warm up quickly without them). I wear them if I'm rehearsing, or teaching (in which case I'm dancing on and off) and of course I wear them over my jeans when it's snowing outside.

So now that I've told you my life story, here's a simple bulleted list to help you decide if you should wear warmers in class.


  • Protect against cold air conditioning
  • Help warm up your body faster—especially if your toes are cold or numb before class
  • Keep you warm between classes and rehearsals
  • Helps increase flexibility


  • If you get warm and then take them off too late in the game, you'll get chilled, which isn't good for your muscles
  • If your muscles are too warm, you'll get tired quickly
  • You don't have to work as hard to warm up, so (for younger dancers) you don't end up trying as hard in class

There is no definite "Yes I will wear leg warmers" or "no I will never wear leg warmers. " I advise getting a pair or two that you like (one thick, one thin) and having them available when you need them. Just remember: when you're just warm enough, take them off and warm yourself up with your body, not with acrylic and cashmere.

I make some really cute hand-knit and crochet leg warmers at my etsy shop. They're awesome because they keep you warm between combinations when you're standing still, but they breathe really well when you're dancing. It helps regulate the temperature! Check out my warmers here.

Super-chunky and soft                                                 Thin Black and red OR black and white

Miss Haley

Miss Haley is a ballet and pointe teacher with a concentration on injury prevention, health, nutrition, wellness, and artistry in her classes. She currently teaches at Stage Door Dance in Raleigh, NC.

Leggings for dancing

Today it is even hard to imagine that the prototype of modern leggings, which have long been used by women as stylish accessories, was once ordinary men's leggings made of leather. Their purpose was to protect the legs of an ancient warrior from possible injuries, which often happened during the battle. Nowadays, this item of clothing is worn by children, men and women.

Functional accessory

A few decades ago, the main function of leggings was protection from the cold. This accessory covers the leg from the foot to the knee, and therefore it is not surprising that lovers of short skirts immediately appreciated its qualities. Even severe frost cannot prevent a fashionista from flaunting tights and a miniskirt if she has warm leggings in her arsenal. Leggings will not interfere with men if their hobbies include winter hunting, fishing or some sports. But the main purpose of leggings today is still the same function of warming the legs, but not on the street, but during dancing. nine0003

The standard duration of a dance class is usually 1.5-2 hours. All this time, the dancer's legs are under load, so the ligaments are warmed up. Knitted or woolen dance leggings are an indispensable accessory for any dancer who cares about the health of their legs. If the muscles are well warmed up, then the risk of strain or injury is minimized. That's why dance leggings are needed. They provide a constant flow of blood to the muscles that are involved during training. For girls, leggings for dancing are simply irreplaceable! A leg without additional protection quickly cools down, and this is a direct path to a sprain. nine0003

Basic rules for wearing leggings

There are no difficulties with how to put on leggings for dancing. This accessory can be worn both on a naked body, and on nylon tights, and on leggings. The problem is different. The human body quickly gets used to heat, so the constant wearing of leggings during training can cause the muscles to warm up without them for a very long time. It is recommended to put on this accessory 15-20 minutes after the start of the workout. When the muscles are already warmed up, and leggings are needed only to maintain the temperature set by the body. The lower the temperature in the room, the denser and higher the leggings should be. The most common materials used for sewing leggings are knitwear, woolen or acrylic thread. It is desirable that the composition of the material includes synthetic fiber, which makes the leggings elastic, durable and wear-resistant. nine0003

As for the color palette, there are no restrictions. If you need this accessory exclusively for training, it makes sense to choose a dark-colored model. Sometimes white dance leggings are used as an element of stage attire. Often an accessory of this color is an addition to a folk costume.

Stylish wardrobe addition

Admirers of youth style will definitely like original models of gaiters. Multi-colored, striped, plain, knitted, voluminous, woolen, knitted - today every girl is given the opportunity to choose a stylish accessory to her taste. You can wear them with almost any kind of shoes. Ankle boots, wedge sneakers, oxfords, pumps, boots go well with a short skirt and leggings. An image with jeans or leggings looks spectacular, over which voluminous knitted leggings are worn. In combination with nylon tights, a mini-skirt or tunic and high-heeled shoes, the leggings look bold, flirtatious and incredibly attractive. nine0003

Related articles:

Knitted gaiters

Knitted leggings have long ceased to be an attribute of a sports outfit and confidently migrated from gyms to wardrobes of fashionistas, even far from dancing and physical activity. Today, this accessory is a great addition to the female image.

Dance bodysuit

Bodysuit for dancing is a necessary attribute for classes, first of all, because it does not constrain movements and allows you to perform any exercises. The bodysuit can be with short or long sleeves, with or without a skirt, black or colored, as long as it fits snugly over the body. nine0003

Running in winter - how to dress?

If the arrival of cold weather did not cause you to cancel your daily runs, then choosing the right clothes for running in the winter should be given increased attention. After all, the success of sports activities and your health depend on how suitable your equipment will be.

Figure Skating Dresses

Figure skating is one of the most spectacular and beautiful sports. He is very fond of theatricality and dramaturgy. All movements, jumps and transitions are intertwined into a touching story that the skater tells us. And a beautiful dress is always a harmonious addition to the number. nine0003

Dance spats

Dance spats themselves appeared at the dawn of classical ballet. There is no doubt that these leg clothes are very specific and require the correct structure of the legs: on short and crooked legs, dance leggings will look comical. They are made of wool or cloth with the addition of synthetic stretching threads, most of them do not have a dense elastic band so as not to crush the lower leg (calf) during movements. nine0003

Gaiters may have rimans - tight elastic bands that are worn on the foot to keep the gaiters on the leg and release the heel and toe when performing dance movements.

There are products of different lengths, they are usually classified, starting from 40 cm and further, increasing by 10 cm. The maximum length that dance leggings have is 80 cm, such leggings are used in those types of movements that are carried out on the floor, involve the knees . For example, strip dance, break dance, contemporary dance and other types of modern choreography. nine0003

The history of dance gaiters

Already in the early to mid-20th century, knitted gaiters began to appear in the form in which we used to see them on long-legged models and in shop windows. The peak of popularity of knitted golfs and leggings fell on the 60-70s, then not so much dancers as fashionistas went to them, choosing thin knitwear and putting them on, slightly lowered, under a dress and white shoes. In the 80s, aerobics was associated with leggings - slender blondes in short shorts, dropped leggings and massive running shoes jumped on TV. Leggings for dancing were not used as an element of the wardrobe. nine0003

And only at the turn of 2000, street dancers and imitators of their culture in fashion introduced knitted leggings as a must-have in the autumn-spring wardrobe. Girls with especially long legs consider it their duty to wear them both under boots and boots, visually outlining the silhouette of the legs. Leggings look good with both heels and sneakers. There is no question of the color scheme - leggings for shoes are exactly that part of the image that can be of the brightest shades.

What should professional dance gaiters look like? nine0064

This attribute is especially important not only for dancers, but also for runners, athletes and even... tourists. After all, comfortable tight leggings keep the ankle from blowing during long hikes, protect shoes from pollution.

Learn more