Chances are you knew someone into 80s punk fashion if you grew up during the best decade ever. Punk fashion trends of the 1980s varied greatly, with clothing and hairstyles changing rapidly as fashions became more extreme. The bold colors and eccentric styles of the late 1970s evolved into more sophisticated looks throughout the 80s.
80s Punk Fashion
Many consider the 80s a music and fashion renaissance, and from that evolved a sub-genre of punk fashion that took hold amongst the youth. So what were some of the most popular 80s punk fashion trends? Here’s a list of the most memorable ones.
1. Tight-fitting clothes
This tight-fitting fashion was a reaction to the somewhat looser punk fashions of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Tight clothes accentuated the rebellious nature of punks, who wanted to appear tough and assertive. Baggy or oversized clothing may have been acceptable in the early days of punk fashion but it quickly became old fashioned as fashion continued to change.
2. T-shirts and vests
T-shirt and vest combinations were often worn. This could be with or without sleeves when it came to the shirt, and often a denim or leather vest that went over it. This gave the impression that punks were rebelling against social norms, even though they were actually just following the trends as everyone else was! Tucked in shirts also had a military feel about them, which was another inspiration for punk fashion.
3. Tartan and leather
Tartan or tartain plaid was commonly worn as a contrast fabric, creating interesting combinations with leather pieces such as jackets and trousers. These pieces were often brightly colored to create an eye-catching look which was also tough and rebellious, as punks liked to be viewed at all times. Leather was a heavy material which could be used to create very strong looks.
4. Metallic and sequinned fabrics
Metallic and sequinned fabrics were worn by punks in all sorts of ways, including specially made clothes and outfits created from normal clothing with the sequins added afterwards. These materials were seen as something luxurious but punks used them in an unusual way, to appear rebellious and stand out from the crowd.
Punks were renowned for wearing glitter on their faces, hair and clothes. This was a cheap alternative to sequins but also added a nice glamorous touch to any outfit. The glitter really completed punk looks as it was bright and eye-catching, symbolizing the unpredictable nature of punks.
6. Oversized hats
Hats were worn in all sorts of shapes and sizes by punks, who didn’t care if they didn’t fit their head correctly. This was another way of creating an unusual look which was recognisable as punk fashion. Hats were also worn down to cover the face, which could be done to hide identity or protect from bad weather.
Mohawks involve shaving the hair into one strip in the middle of the head; this was often dyed bright colours. The punk mohawk is an iconic look and became increasingly popular throughout the 1980s, with punks choosing to shave their entire heads rather than just the strip in the middle. Mohawks are also known as ‘mohican haircuts’ or even ‘buzz cuts’.
8. Nuns’ habits
This was a punky twist on the traditional nun’s habit. The nuns’ habit is a long dress worn by nuns, so to be ‘punked up’ as such would require shortening it and adding other punk features such as bright colours and silver studs. This outfit was often used as stage wear as it was eye-catching and very memorable.
This look includes a short back and sides but long hair on top, as worn by skinheads of the late 1970s. However punks wore their hair in all sorts of ways with no regard for social norms – they added bright colours, shaved lines into the hair and wore it long at the front. All of these looks were designed to be tough and rebellious, which is why punks adopted them as part of their punk fashion.
These are some of the most iconic punk fashion trends of the 1980s. Some were recycled from previous decades but punks took these styles and made them their own, giving them a completely new look which was recognisable as punk fashion.