When it comes to 80’s hip hop fashion nobody did it better than the hip hop stars of that era. Hip Hop is a music genre that has always been influenced by the fashion trends of the time. The 80s was an era in which people were beginning to experiment with different styles, and it reflected heavily on men’s fashion trends. Some of these popular fashions are still seen today, while others have since died out.
80s Hip Hop Fashion
Arguably one of the most underrated fashion of the 1980s was hip hop fashion. The styles were hip, cool, and embodied self-expression. When it comes to 80s hip hop fashion, here were just a few of some of the most iconic trends:
1. Skinny Jeans
Hip hop fashion trends during the 1980s included tight denim jeans for both sexes. The women’s version was called “baby doll” jeans or pink jeans, while the male’s cut featured tapered legs that were much tighter than other pants. This look came about when hip-hop culture began mixing with punk rock culture during this period.
2. Polka Dot Shirts
Another fashion trend that carried on throughout the 80s was wearing polka dot shirts, either with the sleeves rolled up to the elbow, or fully rolled with a t-shirt underneath. Even though polka dot clothing was a mainstream pop fashion staple, people don’t realize it also permeated 80s hip hop fashion as well.
Sometimes hip-hop artists wore collar pins to spice it up even more. The shirt’s design was inspired by men’s work attire during this period but became “cooler” when hipsters began pairing them with skinny jeans and tennis shoes.
3. Gucci Loafers
White or Black Gucci loafers were another popular 80s shoe for men in the early days of hip hop. These shoes were worn with tapered jeans that were tight at the ankles. They became a symbol of wealth and status within the hip-hop community because they were expensive to buy and because wearing them was an easy way to show off one’s designer fashion tastes.
4. Starter Jackets
The Starter brand jacket became famous when hip hop artists began wearing them in their music videos, concerts, and everyday lifestyle. The Starter Jacket came with a zipper on each arm, a neck warmer attached to the hood, and a visible logo sewn onto its front left side. This jacket’s most popular color choice was black since it went well with everything else during this period.
5. Leather Biker Jackets
The leather biker jacket was popular during the 80s as it was worn by pop stars like Michael Jackson, Prince, and Elton John. Around 1983, rappers like Run DMC began wearing them to show off their bad-boy image. Although this fashion trend fell out of style after 1984, many people still wear the leather biker jacket today since it is classy and stylish at the same time.
6. Doc Martens Boots
Doc Martens boots were introduced in 1970 for working adults who needed something practical yet comfortable when they went into hazardous work areas. In 1983, hip hop celebrities began wearing Doc Martens with skinny jeans and polka dot button-up shirts to mimic the punk rock fashions that were popular at the time. Some people still wear these boots today who appreciate their working-class history.
7. Dookie Chains
Of course you couldn’t talk about 80s hip hop fashion without mentioning the bling. In the 80s the king of bling was the Dookie Chain. This was a giant rope necklace made of gold (or at least gold plated), and it was a symbol of wealth as well as street cred. Major hip hop artists from NWA to Run DMC all rocked Dookie Chains, and if you were in the 80s hip hop fashion scene, your outfit needed to have one of these as well.
8. Trucker Hats
Trucker hats were first popularized by Grateful Dead and Phish musicians during the mid-1980s. However, it wasn’t until 1988 that hip-hop artists started wearing them in their music videos.
This happened when NWA released “Straight Outta Compton” in 1988, which featured the group members walking around with dark aviator sunglasses on while sporting a casual trucker hat. By 1989, most rappers had switched over to this type of hat since they looked cool, were inexpensive to buy, and provided adequate protection from the sun.
9. Bucket Hats
In addition to trucker hats, many hip hop rappers preferred the more loose fitting bucket hat. These were made popular by hip hop artists like Run DMC and LL Cool J, and they were another great way to keep your head warm while lookin fly at the same time.
10. Four Finger Rings
Finally if you wanted to take your bling to the next level, you had some sort of signature four finger rings. These were worn by many prominent hip hop artists of the 80s, and they basically looked like over the top brass knuckles. Some were also probably used as brass knuckles, but typically they were another way to show off your wealth along with your other gaudy gold jewelry.
If you had money in the 80s in the hip hop community, you probably owned a pair of Cazal Sunglasses. These were pricey designer sunglasses that had boxy frames, and they were worn by prominent African-American icons like Run D.M.C. and Spike Lee. In fact Cazals were so sought after that wearers had to worry about people snatching them right off of their faces!
Is 80s Hip Hop Fashion Still Popular Today?
The fashion trends listed above are just a few of the many popular ones during the golden age of hip hop. Though some trends like Polka Dots and Dookie Chains seem to have disappeared, many hip hop fashion trends like bucket hats and leather jackets still are popular in hip hop culture today.
Hip hop has changed throughout the years in terms of music style and lyrics, but its fashion choices mostly stand the test of time. Many will still recognize these fashion choices on their favorite hip hop artists today, and these trends will undoubtedly continue on at least into the near future.