I Guess Random Arm Warmers Are Back

It's like 2003 all over again.

I Guess Random Arm Warmers Are Back
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

I always knew fashion worked in cycles, but I must admit seeing all the questionable trends from my tween and teen years resurface still manages to shock me. I try to reason with myself each time top models and influencers break out things like cargo pants and mid-section belts. "Well, at least they're not wearing structured vests or showing off their thong," I'll think. And almost the very next day, those trends make a comeback, too. It's as if I'm literally time traveling back to the most chaotic, cringey parts of 2003.

One trend I truly didn't expect to live another day, though, are arm warmers. They were big in the '80s and even saw a rise in the aughts as part of Disney Channel's cutesy-kid star uniform. Not quite gloves and not at all sleeves, the confusing little extra has no real purpose other than being decorative. But in 2022, someone decided we needed them again. And now, arm warmers are seemingly everywhere.

They appeared in the 2021 Gucci Love Parade and Vivienne Westwood's Spring 2022 collection. Celebrities are already on board, and street style stars have been adding them to their looks for months. With each new outfit example, I'm becoming more and more convinced I need a pair for myself (again, since I already hopped on the trend in my youth). And after viewing the photo inspiration ahead — both from the past and present — you might just feel the same.

Arm Warmers Always Make Me Think of Avril Lavigne

Arm Warmers
Donald Weber/Getty Images

They were essentially part of her signature "Sk8ter Boi" style and she owned a variety of different options, including knit and fishnet versions.

However, the '00s Staple Worked for Multiple Aesthetics

Arm Warmers
David Keeler/Online USA

Add a splash of pink and maybe a few sparkles, and arm warmers became Paris Hilton-approved.

They Were Sexy

Arm warmers

Especially when worn with low-rise pants and bra tops, like Carmen Electra.

You Could Coordinate Them With the Rest of Your Look

Arm Warmers

It's possible Gwen Stefani DIY'd this one with extra shirt material.

There Were Formal Styles, Too

Arm Warmers
J. Vespa/WireImage

Paired with her sparkly black dress, Macy Gray's spiderwebbed arm warmer was pretty glam.

Now, Arm Warmers Have Returned

Arm Warmers
David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Lace-up versions were spotted on the Gucci runway last November.

Celebrities Are Into Them

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Erika Goldring/WireImage

Doja Cat wore a single distressed arm warmer on stage at 2021's Austin City Limits Music Festival.

They Work for the Cool Weather

Arm Warmers
Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

This extra layer provides extra warmth — and, possibly, a pop of color.

They Can Be Part of a Set

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Christian Vierig/Getty Images

The new way to wear this accessory is with a matching, skin-baring top. Extra points if its crisscrossed, like this H&M design.

Arm Warmers Can Quickly Add Interest to Your Outfit

Arm Warmers
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Much like a scarf or a hat, they'll provide a little something extra to a simple look, and will especially make a statement if you go with a printed version, like these checkered ones from ASOS.

It Looks Like They're Here to Stay for a Bit

Arm Warmers
Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

Considering so many '00s trends have returned within the past few years, arm warmers — or, detachable sleeves, as some might call them — fit right in. Plus, they kind of create the perfect between-weather look as we head into spring. Personally, I'm all for giving them another shot (why not?!) and plan to start small with a matching arm warmer and dress combo, like this one from Storets, or Alice and Olivia's Arm Warmer Tank.

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