80s fashion

80’s Fashion

If you grew up in the 1980s you know that 80’s fashion was big, it was bright, and it was loud! You might have worn some bright neon clothes, very large tops, had larger than life hair, and chances are you would have felt good about it too.

The 1980s was really a golden age for music and movies, and along with that came all of the iconic looks that we know today as 80’s fashion.

Celebrities like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Molly Ringwald, and Cyndi Lauper heavily influenced the masses when it came to what they wore. And even though it has been decades since the 1980s, we still look fondly back at the crazy (and cool) fashion trends of the time.

80s fashion

Why 80’s Fashion Was Iconic

When we look back at the fashion trends of the 80s, we can recognize it to be almost a renaissance of fashion. Prior to the 1970s fashion was quite conservative and subdued. Eventually with the hippies of the 70s, fashion started to open up and become more daring. Peace, love, and rock n roll was all the rage, and fashion began to become more provocative.

Fast forward to the 1980s and fashion was kicked into high gear. The 80s built upon the sexual revolution of the 70s, and a cultural transformation began to take hold. People were no longer afraid to be who they were, and that mentality was reflected in their fashion choices. Bold colors, more skin, and unique accessories ushered in an era of fashion that many consider to be the best of the 20th century.

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Your 80s Style Defined You

Probably no other decade of the 20th century defined society with fashion like the 1980s. The fashion choices you made really revealed who you were, and people used clothing and accessories to create their own identities.

If you were a rebellious young adult you might have wore neon clothing. If you were a spoiled rich kid, you may have just stuck to preppy fashion. No matter who you were, your fashion let society know what you were all about, and this fact is probably something more true to the 1980s than any other decade in recent memory.

80’s Neon Fashion

Fashion in the 1980s was all about making a statement, and you often made that statement with 80s neon fashion which let the world knew that you were hip and trendy. Typically a popular choice among young adults, neon clothing seemed to be ubiquitous in 1980s society.

80s neon clothes
Neon Clothes Were Huge In The 1980s

Something neon green or bright orange made you stand out in a crowd, and being bold was something 80s fashion was all about. So it’s not surprising how popular neon fashion was during the 1980s, and also how it remains one of the most memorable fashion trends of that era.

80s fashion neon clothes
80’s Fashion Trend: Bright Neon Clothes

Neon fashion also wasn’t just restricted to pants and tops. Neon accessories were also quite popular too. Everything from jelly bracelets to sunglasses came in neon, and you could just about find anything you wanted in a bright color during the 1980s.

80s neon accessories
In The 80s Even Your Accessories Could Be Neon

80’s Workout Fashion

Building on neon clothes, oddly enough 80s workout clothes was also revolutionary. The 1980s was really when people began caring about what they put in their bodies, and fitness and exercise were becoming really mainstream.

Celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Jane Fonda made people want to get physically fit. Movies like “Perfect” (1985) also highlighted the fitness craze that was storming the nation.

And in the 1980s fashion wasn’t only considered when going out, if you were hitting the gym, you needed to look good too. Spandex, leggings, and leg warmers were popular trends for women getting their workout on. For men muscle tees and short shorts were popular, and of course unisex accessories like headbands and armbands kept you cool while working up a sweat!

Working Out In The 80s Gave You A Chance To Be Fashionable As Well

80’s Preppy Fashion

If you weren’t fond of the bright colors and gaudy designs of 80s neon fashion, you probably fell on the other end of the spectrum with the subtle “I’m better than you” preppy fashion that was also quite popular during the 1980s.

Companies like Lacoste and Ralph Lauren catered to the sophisticated preppy folk, and there was no better way to let people know you had money by dressing up in these brands during the 80s.

80s fashion preppy look
80’s Fashion Trend: Preppy Clothes

80’s Fashion And Music

It should come as no surprise that 80’s fashion was heavily influenced by popular music artists of the time. People wanted to be like their favorite singer or musician, and this of course meant emulating the way they dressed as well.

Whether you wanted the material girl look of Madonna, or the hip hop swag of Run DMC, entertainers of the 1980s really had a big influence on a generation of people that just wanted to be cool and fit in. Thus the 80s created a generation that really found its fashion identity based around the music they loved.

80’s Pop Fashion

If you were into pop music in the 1980s, there’s no doubt that superstars like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper influenced what you wore. 80’s pop fashion really heavily influenced what women wore more so than men. Everything from the big hairstyles, fishnet clothing, and glitter makeup were emulated by teenage girls (and women) across the country.

80's Pop Fashion
80’s Pop Fashion

Female pop stars also popularized the use of fashion accessories. Things like big earrings, bracelets, scrunchies, and fingerless gloves were very popular in the 1980s. And when it came to fashion accessories, typically the bigger the better!

For men, fashion icons like Michael Jackson and David Bowie made it ok to wear sequined clothing and even makeup to accentuate your features. Leather anything was also a popular choice when it came to men’s pop fashion in the 80’s, and any stylish man of the day at least owned a leather jacket and some leather pants.

80’s Rock Fashion

The best decade ever was also a big decade for 80’s rock fashion. Legendary bands like Def Leppard, Motley Crue, and Guns n Roses set the tone with a lot of leather, even bigger hair, and accessories like leather bracelets and gloves.

Denim jeans and tops were also popular when it came to rockers of the 80s. Often they were acid washed or ripped, and they were usually paired with some sort of sleeveless top that showed off some cool tattoos.

80s rock fashion
80’s Rock Fashion

Rock fashion in the 80s often showed a lot of skin, and the wild fashion choices definitely matched the rollercoaster lifestyles of the rock bands of the day.

80’s Hip Hop Fashion

The 1980s was also the golden era of hip hop, and with the emergence of superstar groups like Run DMC and N.W.A. so gave birth to what we know today as 80’s hip hop fashion.

80’s hip hop fashion was all about looking cool but at the same time letting people know you weren’t meant to be messed with. It had a underground feel, but also some flashy and over the top features.

80's Hip Hop Fashion
80’s Hip Hop Fashion

For men Starter Jackets was a must have, along with accessories like a big dookie chain, four finger rings, and a trucker hat of your favorite sports team. Bucket hats were also popular along with some fresh white Adidas or Reebok sneakers to complete your 80s hip hop fashion look.

For women denim jeans and jackets were in, but they also wore starter jackets as well (unisex fashion). Also accessories like dookie chains, big gold earrings, gold rings, and gold bracelets were necessary to accentuate the 80s hip hop look. Hip hop superstars like Salt n Pepa heavily influenced hip hop fashion for women in the 1980s.

80’s Punk Fashion

For the more rebellious folk, the 1980s also was a time for great punk fashion. This was for the most daring and un-conforming in society. 80s punk fashion was bold and outrageous, and it let people know you didn’t care at all about society’s rules or what other people thought!

80's Punk Fashion
80’s Punk Fashion

For men black leather pants and jackets were in. Often these had metallic features or sequins on them, as well as patches or other loud designs. Torn jean pants were also popular, as well as any tartan clothing. Sleeveless shirts were also often worn under these jackets, and the outfit was topped off usually with some leather boots.

For women tight fitting tops and leather jackets were fashionable. Also anything fishnet (tops or leggings) were popular, as well as mini skirts that were often made of leather. Black leather boots were also very popular, along with fingerless gloves and loud makeup to complete the look.

As for 80s punk fashion hair, just like other genres of 80s fashion, generally the bigger the better. Men often sported mohawks or variations of mohawks that were often dyed loud colors like pink, orange, or red. Women also had large mohawk type hairstyles, though many also preferred large perms as well.

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80s Clothes Needed Accessories

No matter what 80’s fashion trend you followed, no outfit was complete without the right accessories. There were numerous must-have 80s accessories that were key to being en vogue, and the 1980s may be the decade where fashion accessories were the most emphasized.

What was also prevalent when it came to 80s accessories was not just the types, but also the amounts. For example you didn’t just wear one bracelet, you might have worn 5-7 of them on each arm.

Same with necklaces, one wasn’t enough, and it was quite common to wear 3-5 necklaces with your outfit. It wasn’t uncommon to wear anywhere from 10-15 accessories at a time which seems quite outlandish by today’s standards, but perfectly normal during the 1980s.

80s fashion accessories
80s Accessories Were Often Worn In Multiples

Besides the quantity, 80s accessories were often very unique to the decade, and even to this day we recognize these to be synonymous with the era.

Shoulder Pads

Huge shoulder pads let people know you were serious, and it wasn’t uncommon for people to wear two pairs of shoulder pads at any one time. Any time you wore a suit, it wasn’t complete unless you had shoulder pads, and they gave you the confidence you needed to tackle whatever it was you were dressed for.

shoulder pads
80’s Fashion Trend: Shoulder Pads

Beaded Jewelry

Another popular 80s women fashion trend was to accessorize outfits with beaded jewelry. During the 80s beaded jewelry whether it was bracelets or necklaces were quite popular. They were stylish but also inexpensive, and the latter point made them explode in popularity since they were easily accessible especially to a younger demographic.

80’s Fashion Trend: Beaded Jewelery

Again with this accessory quantity was key. Often women would wear multiple beaded necklaces and bracelets to create a misfit vibe that would add some chaotic flare to their 80s fashion ensemble.

Cross Necklaces

During the 1980s cross necklaces were big. They were a way that you could express your religious beliefs, but in an edgy and provocative way. Madonna made cross necklaces mainstream during the 1980s as she often wore them and utilized religious symbols in her music.

80s women fashion
80’s Fashion Trend: Cross Necklaces

Huge Earrings

Another 80s fashion must have accessory for the ladies were large and often gaudy earrings.  Wearing huge earrings meant you had status and you wanted to be noticed. Some were so large they were nicknamed ‘Door knockers’ and would be so big they were shoulder length.

big earrings
80’s Fashion Trend: Big Earrings

Fingerless Gloves

Another women’s 1980s fashion accessory that was often seen were fingerless gloves.  These gloves became increasingly popular thanks to the large number of pop and punk stars who were seen wearing them during performances or in print media. 

Music icons like Michael Jackson and Madonna were just the tip of the iceberg when it came to celebrities that rocked them during the 1980s, so it’s not surprising that they became trendy amongst the youth as a must have 80s fashion accessory.

fingerless gloves
80’s Fashion Trend: Fingerless Gloves

Ray-Ban Sunglasses

And of course your 80s fashion outfit wouldn’t be complete without a cool set of sunglasses. When it came to 80s style, there was nothing more iconic than a fresh set of Ray-Ban Sunglasses (either Wayfarers or Aviators) that made you look too cool for school.

Celebrities like Tom Cruise wore them in legendary 1980s movies like “Risky Business” and “Top Gun” and they would instantly become an 80s fashion classic.

80s ray-ban sunglasses
80’s Fashion Trend: Ray-Ban Sunglasses

Browse 80s Fashion Ideas On Amazon.com Here

More 80s Men’s Fashion Trends

When it came to 80s men’s fashion we need to realize it was a different era. In the 1980s men were macho and masculine. Celebrities like Tom Selleck, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and John Travolta were examples of a very alpha male culture that men wanted to imitate.

If you were a man in the 1980s, chances are you had a thick 80s moustache and grew chest hair that peaked through your shirt, or you spent all day at the gym trying to get jacked. Skinny and lean men are much more celebrated today, but back in the 1980s things were different.

In the 1980s men were big, hairy, and macho. Many today would consider this culture to be “toxically masculine” but that’s just how things were back then.

80s macho fashion
80’s Fashion Trend: Macho And Masculine Men

That being said men’s fashion in the 1980s was also quirky and sometimes bordered on the ridiculous.

Here are some of the most notable men’s fashion trends from the 1980s.

Parachute Pants

In the 80s Parachute Pants were big, they were baggy and they were what you had to wear if you wanted to dance and move easily. They came in many different colors and even had fake zippers and pockets that added something special to the outfit.

parachute pants
80’s Fashion Trend: Parachute Pants

Zubaz Pants

Zubaz pants was also a thing due to their popularity amongst the fitness and pro-athlete community.  The Zubaz Pants trend flourished in the 1980s because it was the heyday of big muscle movie stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. People were starting to take fitness more seriously, and thus the fashion that came along with that lifestyle.

80s mens fashion zubaz pants
80’s Fashion Trend: Zubaz Pants

Letterman Jackets

If you were a high school jock a popular men’s 80s fashion was the Letterman Jacket which let your classmates know you were one of the popular kids. You earned your way onto the football team, and you needed to remind everyone (often daily) that you were a superior physical specimen.

mens 80s fashion
80’s Fashion Trend: Letterman Jackets

Members Only Jackets

Another popular 80s fashion trend were the hugely popular Members Only Jackets. If you had one of these, people knew you were serious when it came to your clothing. It gave the wearer status as the jackets were far from cheap.

members only jacket
80’s Fashion Trend: Members Only Jackets

Crop Tops

If you were into fitness and wanted to showoff your washboard abs, another fashion trend in the 1980s popular among men was the Crop Top which was basically a cut off shirt that showed off your midsection. It may seem odd today, but during the 1980s nobody batted an eye when men walked around wearing these, and if you were fit, it was probably a turn on for the opposite sex.

80’s Fashion Trend: Crop Tops

Short Shorts

If you were really feeling yourself as a man, another 80s men’s fashion trend were uncomfortably short shorts which were also perfectly acceptable at the time. These were shorts that probably used half the material that they should’ve, but was made socially acceptable because macho celebrities like Tom Selleck, Sean Connery, and John Travolta made them cool to wear. I mean if Magnum P.I. wore them, they must be perfectly masculine right?

mens 80s fashion
80’s Fashion Trend: Short Shorts

More 80s Women’s Fashion Trends

Women’s fashion during the 1980s also ran the spectrum from cute and conservative, to bold and loud. Many would say that 80s women’s fashion was much more daring because they could take their looks a lot further. Unlike their male counterparts, women could take their 80s style to greater heights with the plethora of accessories and makeup available to them.

However despite their wide latitude of choices, they also had core fashion items that helped define women’s fashion in the 1980s.

Oversized Tops

For example oversized tops was all the rage which was made popular by many celebrities like Jennifer Beal in movies like “Flashdance”. The oversized poorly fitting top let people know you didn’t play by society’s rules. These tops often could be neon colored if you were going out with friends, but they could be stylish as just grey like it was in the movie when lounging at home.

80s women fashion oversized tops
80’s Fashion Trend: Oversized Tops

Polka Dots

Another popular women’s 80s fashion trend was “Polka Dots”. This pattern of clothing whether it was in a skirt or a blouse was a way for women that were more on the conservative side to add a little edgy flare to their outfits. Fashion icons like Princess Diana made polka dot clothing en vogue, and women across the world took notice.

80s fashion trend polka dots
80’s Fashion Trend: Polka Dot Clothing

Crop Tops And Mini Skirts

In contrast 80s women’s fashion could also be bold and loud, and many pop icons like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper wore crop tops and mini skirts often accompanied by an excessive amount of jewelry.

80s womens fashion crop tops
80’s Fashion Trend: Crop Tops And Mini Skirts

Bold Makeup

Furthermore 80s women’s fashion trends of the day include using bold colors and glitter for their makeup choices. When it came to 80s makeup looks subtlety was something often left behind by the women of the 1980s, and along with your crazy outfits and excessive jewelry, your face needed to match your oversized personality.

80s womens fashion makeup
80’s Fashion Trend: Bright Colored And Glitter Makeup

Stretch Stirrups

For the ladies when it came to pants, during the 1980s stretch stirrups were quite popular. These were pants that would hook your heel at the bottom, and women liked them because they believed it made them look taller and slimmer.

80s women fashion stretch stirrup pants
80’s Fashion Trend: Stretch Stirrup Pants


Of course we couldn’t talk about 80s women’s fashion unless we mentioned spandex. In the 1980s spandex was everywhere. You could wear it casually going to the mall or for your workout at the gym.

80s spandex
80’s Fashion Trend: Spandex

Leg Warmers

And lets not forget every hip woman’s 1980’s fashion go-to leg warmers that despite looking odd today, was quite common to see anywhere from the gym or at the mall.

80s women fashion leg warmers
80’s Fashion Trend: Leg Warmers

Popular 80’s Hairstyles

Of course when we talk about 1980s fashion we have to talk about the epic hairstyles. Just as iconic as the clothing were the hairstyles of the 1980s.

The 1980s was all about big hair for both men and women, and it wasn’t uncommon for people to sport puffed-up hair styles that were almost as wide as their shoulders. Men and women spent millions of dollars on hair products of the 1980s like Aqua Net and Mousse to create larger than life hairstyles that could withstand hurricane force winds!

So what were some popular hairstyles of the 1980s?

Perm Hairstyle

One of the most popular hairstyles for women in the 80s was the “perm hairstyle”. The perm hairstyle was one that was quite tedious to do as it involved chemicals and curling irons, but women did it anyway because it was in style and all the rage. Celebrities like Barbara Streisand, Meg Ryan, and Cher were all women that helped make this hairstyle popular during the 80s.

80s perm hairstyle
80’s Fashion Trend: The Perm Hairstyle

Side Ponytail

Another popular women’s hairstyle during the 80s was the side ponytail. Basically it was just a ponytail you tied with a scrunchy or other hair tie that lopped off to one side of your head, and the ease of creating this look added to its popularity. The side ponytail was a favorite of younger women, and the hairstyle showed off your fun and quirky side.

80s side ponytail hairstyle
80’s Fashion Trend: Side Ponytails

Big Hair

While ladies had the perm hairstyle, men were also big hair fans as well during the 80s. Rock bands and celebrities made larger than life hairstyles en vogue for men during the time.

It was clear the 1980’s was a decade where ‘The bigger the better’ was king, and hair was no exception. Big hair bands like Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, and Def Leppard all contributed to the big hair trend for men during the 80s.

80s big hairstyles
80’s Fashion Trend: Big Hair

The Mullet

Another big hairstyle for men was the 80s mullet haircut. These days we usually stereotype mullet haircuts with country folk, but back in the 1980s the mullet was fairly mainstream. The “Business in the front, party in the back” hairstyle permeated American culture, and many celebrities like Patrick Swayze and Rob Lowe rocked this hairstyle legitimately as sex symbols!

80s mullet hairstyle
80’s Fashion Trend: The Mullet Haircut

The Jheri Curl

However no discussion of 1980s hairstyles would be complete without mentioning the Jheri Curl and all it’s glistening glory. This hairstyle was popular in the black community, and was rocked by prominent black celebrities like Michael Jackson and also featured in hit 80s movies like “Coming To America” where Eric LaSalle’s character sported the style for millions to see.

80s jerry curl hairstyle
80’s Fashion Trend: The Jheri Curl

Is 1980’s Fashion Coming Back?

From time to time we all spot 80’s clothing in a high street clothing store, or on a catwalk model, but while this style of clothing is not as big as it once was, it is making somewhat of a comeback.

Because we now love all-things retro, more and more people are finding an appreciation for 80’s fashion, which means those huge earrings, big tops, leg warmers, Members Only Jackets and shoulder pads could find their way into your wardrobe once more.

Also more and more people are beginning to throw 80’s theme parties and events, and 80’s fashion is always popular during the Halloween season. So if it’s 80’s fashion tips you’re after, please check out the rest of this site for more in depth information on 80’s style as well as the rich culture that was in our opinion the greatest decade of the 20th century.

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