What are Arm Warmers?

B. Miller
B. Miller
Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Arm warmers are a type of fingerless gloves that are worn both for fashion purposes in cold weather, as well as for more practical purposes such as when cycling. They typically cover the hands and the bottoms of the fingers, and generally reach midway up the forearms, ending well below the elbows. Arm warmers are popular items of clothing that may be purchased or handmade.

Arm warmers are typically made of cotton or polyester, and may be knit, crocheted, or even made in a fishnet pattern. They are available in many different colors, but typically in a one size fits all size, unless they are handmade. Arm warmers may be purchased in stores, or knit from a pattern; many patterns are available for free or for a small fee online. The gloves are typically sold during the colder seasons.

Arm warmers are popular in the fall and winter, when the weather is cooler. Some styles may be lined with fleece for extra utility and warmth, while others may simply be knit. People often wear these warmers with long sleeved shirts, and often do not take them off when going inside, as one would take gloves off when going inside. These warmers are considered to be very fashionable, and also leave the hands free to do other things, such as to type, for example.

Arm warmers may be made in many different patterns. Cable-knit are quite popular, as they are designed to resemble small sweaters for the hands. Some are available in a set with a matching hat and gloves, which can give one a nice, cohesive look. A set like this could also make a nice holiday gift for a friend or family member; neutral colors such as gray or black often look best in the winter.

Arm warmers made for cycling are generally tighter and thinner than those for fashion. They are used to keep the hands warm while cycling in cold weather, but to still allow the fingers to manipulate the gears and breaks of the bicycle safely. These may be found in fitness stores or ordered online, and are typically not handmade. Keep in mind that when wearing this type of gloves while cycling in very cold weather, it is still important to monitor the hands for frostbite. Be sure the fingers do not turn white, and if they do, go inside and warm up; the finger should turn red again relatively quickly.

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Discussion Comments


Does anyone else think that bike arm warmers are a bit boring to wear as an accessory?

My friends and I recently came across a site that sold a whole assortment of fishnet arm warmers and I have to say that they can make a really sexy addition to your wardrobe. While they have a bit of an edgy emo or goth vibe to them, I think they are great if you are going clubbing and just want to add a little extra something to your outfit. I wouldn't advise mixing them with fishnet stockings though, as it is a bit of overkill. My one friend made this mistake and she looked pretty outrageous.


I've always found that both arm and leg warmers are great for biking. I usually just shove the leg warmers up under my baggy jeans when it is cooler outside, and the arm warmers are great at keeping my hands free. Another nice thing is that the arm warmers are fashionable enough that you can use them with an accessory.

If you are using arm warmers as an accessory I think they look best with a simple long sleeved black top, or a tank top. Arm warmers come in so many designs that you can really have a lot of fun.


Arm warmers seem to come in and out of fashion. I think they're somewhat fashionable these days, because I've actually seen three quarter length sleeves being sold with matching arm warms recently. I really like this idea, because it pretty much gives you two ways to wear the shirt: one way for cool weather, one way for colder weather!


@Monika - I beg to differ about fingerless gloves not being fashionable! I knit myself a pair of them awhile ago, and I get compliments all the time. They're multicolored and cabled and I wear them pretty much daily in the winter.

However, when I was in high school I favored gothic arm warmers. Yep, I was a goth in high school. I wore long flowing skirts, corsets, and a ton of fishnet. I grew out of the clothing phase, but I still like heavy metal and other "goth" types of music. I just don't look it anymore!

But anyway, arm warmers were my saving grace some days. Corsets aren't that warm, so arm warmers helped keep me warm. Also, they kind of completed the outfit!


I prefer to wear fingerless gloves versus arm warmers. For those of you who don't know the difference between cycling arm warmers and fingerless gloves, fingerless gloves usually have a thumb opening and then a larger opening for the other four fingers. They're almost like mittens with the tops cut off!

I like them much better than just arm warmers because they keep your hands warm too, instead of just your arms. The only problem is that they're usually too warm to wear inside, while arm warmers can pretty much be worn indoors or outdoors. Also, I find fingerless gloves to look slightly less fashionable than arm warmers. That's just my opinion though!


I am always looking for new crochet projects, and found that making fingerless gloves and arm warmers was a quick and easy project.

These have become a little bit of a fashion statement where we live, and I see a lot of the girls wearing them.

The crochet arm warmers don't take very long to make and don't use much yarn. Because of this, it is easy to make all different kinds of colors and styles.

What really makes them unique are the embellishments you can add to them. I have added some bows and ribbons that really add a nice touch.


@SarahSon - In addition to teenagers wearing these, I have also seen some baby arm warmers. One of my friends has some that can be used as either leg or arm warmers for her baby.

They have a thumb hole for your thumb, but can also be used to keep their little legs warm. I can see how some extra warmth might me nice in the winter, but I wonder how long they stay on.

I had a hard time keeping socks and hats on my babies, and imagine they would pull these off in no time.

If they would keep the leg warmers on I can see how they would be easy to use when it came time for diaper changing or even potty training. The extra protection would also be nice for their legs and knees when they started to crawl.

It is easier to understand the use of baby leg warmers than arm warmers, but my friend has them on her baby quite often.

Has anybody else used arm warmers for their baby?


I have seen several younger people wearing arm warmers during the colder months. My teenage daughter likes wearing them so she has her fingers free to send text messages.

Since her cell phone seems to permanently attached to her, she likes the convenience of keeping half of her hands and arms warm. This way she doesn't have to take off any gloves to use her phone.

Some of them seem to be made with cheap, light material that would not hold up very long. If you really want them to be warm, I would go with some wool arm warmers or a cable knit pattern that uses a thick yarn.


@lighth0se33 – It's probably because most people wear them for looks. I have worn some before, and my forearms did feel disproportionately warm.

I put a short-sleeved shirt on under my sweater to balance things out. This felt much more natural.

I generally prefer just to wear a snug long-sleeved shirt underneath for warmth, but I was wearing the arm warmers because they were a gift. My niece had gotten me some pink wool arm warmers, so I wore them to her Christmas party.

She had no idea I was wearing a t-shirt underneath to insulate my upper arms. I'm sure that's not very fashionable, but it was hidden, so it didn't matter.


To me, arm warmers look like an extension of your sweater, if you wear a pair that match your top. My sister has a black and white striped sweater that she wears with matching arm warmers, and they blend so well that it just looks like the sweater has really long sleeves.

She doesn't wear them to stay warm. She just thinks they look good.

I just wonder why these arm warmers don't cover the whole arm. It looks to me like if you really were using them to stay warm, you wouldn't want just your forearm covered.


@Oceana – I think that arm warmers are probably best worn in autumn weather, rather than in the freezing temperatures of winter. I like to ride my bike to work, and in the fall, arm warmers provide just the right amount of insulation.

I wear them until snowy weather arrives. After that, I do switch to thermal underwear and full coverage gloves.

In autumn, I wear arm warmers that match my clothing. I keep them on at work, because the office is usually a little too cool for my liking. I have a brown pair, an orange pair, and a purple pair, and these go well with my fall wardrobe.


It seems like cyclists would need their fingers covered as well as their arms. I understand that they need freedom of movement, but there are gloves on the market that fit snugly and are lightweight enough to let you still move your fingers around a lot.

I know that my fingers are usually the coldest part of my body. A friend got me a pair of arm warmers for my birthday, and I tried wearing them outside while walking in cold weather. Sure, they kept my arms and palms warm, but I still had to put my hands in my coat pockets to keep my fingers from freezing.

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