80s rock fashion

Remembering 80s Rock Fashion

The 80's Blog May 19, 2022

When you think of 80s rock fashion you can’t help but smile thinking about all the great rock bands associated with it. The looks were bold, edgy, and sometimes outright over the top. But when you’re playing music that epic, you definitely need an outfit to match, and the rock stars of the 1980s didn’t disappoint.

When it comes to fashion trends of the 1980s, one could argue that along with their mainstream pop and hip-hop counterparts, 80s rockers also left a memorable mark on the fashion industry that till this day remains popular.

So what were the most popular fashion trends of rockers in the 1980s?

80s Rock Fashion Trends

When it came to looking great while rocking out, here are some of the most memorable 80s rock fashion trends of the era:

1. Big Leather Jackets

80s leather jackets
Leather Jackets Ruled The 80s Rock Scene

Leather jackets were all the rage in the 1980s. Whether you were a fan of Tom Cruise or even Michael Jackson, oversized leather jackets were in. Perhaps the most well-known leather jacket from the 80s was the V-shaped red and black patent leather design sported by Michael Jackson in his video Thriller.

Though popular in pop culture, leather jackets also took hold as a staple fashion item for rockers in the 1980s. Almost every rock band from Guns n Roses to Def Leppard wore leather jackets, and the leather jacket became one of the most iconic fashion trends of 80s rock music.

2. Over The Top Hats

80s large rocker hats
Large Hats Were Popular In 80s Rock Fashion

When it came to performing on stage, often you saw one or two band members wearing some over the top hat. These were either leather police hats or top hats, and they just added to the out of this world rock fashion. Usually they were black, and sometimes adorned with silver studding to match the rest of their leather outfits.

Legendary rockers like Slash from “Guns n Roses” were known for wearing seemingly ridiculous hats on stage while they performed.

3. Sleeveless Tops

80s sleeveless tops
Sleeveless Tops Were Quite Common For 80s Rockers

When it came to the tops of 80s rockers, it seemed many favored them without sleeves. Whether it was shirts, denim jackets, or even leather jackets, more often than not the rockers of the decade just seemed to prefer sleeveless tops.

Perhaps they wanted to show off tattoos or just stay cool during performances on stage, regardless the reason sleeveless tops were everywhere in rock fashion.

4. Metal Chains

80s metal chains
Metal Chains Often Hung From Pants Of 80s Rockers

If you were an 80s rocker chances are you were wearing metal chains in one form or another. They were dangling from the loops on your jeans, in the form of a bracelet, or perhaps even a necklace.

Since so many rock stars of the era wore leather, it made perfect sense to have that silver contrast that reflected well off the stage lights that further added to the performances.

5. Doc Martens Boots

Doc Martens Boots Was An 80s Rock Band Standard

Bands like Black Sabbath, Mötley Crüe, and even Iron Maiden sported leather boots like Doc Martens. These boots provide great support and were fashionably cool, two things you were looking for in footwear.

These boots were 80s rockers fashion staples, and were also popular in 80s punk fashion circles as well.


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6. Ripped Clothes

80s ripped clothes
Ripped Jeans & Shirts Were Common 80s Rock Fashion

Ripped clothes was very much a big part of 80s fashion overall, but also in rock fashion as well. Parents hated the 80s because the first thing that most kids would do when they got a new pair of jeans was to start cutting and ripping them up.

Whether choosing to use scissors or even sandpaper, adding holes to your favorite pair of jeans was very popular at the time because ripped jeans was the preferred look of your favorite rock band.

And it wasn’t just your jeans that were ripped, often these were paired with ripped shirts as well. Wearing ripped clothing let people know you didn’t care what society thought, and this was the mentality of many rebellious young adults in the 1980s.

7. Gloved Hands

slash leather gloves
Rockers Like Slash From “Guns N Roses” Made Leather Gloves Popular Rock Fashion In The 80s

Another popular trend in the 1980s was the wearing of gloves, particularly leather gloves. For those who were into rock n’ roll, a pair of biker gloves gave you that “don’t mess with me” look. 80s Rockers like Billy Idol often wore leather fingerless gloves to further accentuate their rebellious personas.

But wearing gloves was not just limited to the rock generation, it extended into pop music as well. However leather gloves were very prominent at most rock concerts, so we really associate the trend with rock fashion.

8. Colorful Bandanas

80s bandanas
80s Rock Legends Like Axl Rose Often Performed With Bandanas

Of course, you wouldn’t have the true 1980s rock look unless you had a bandana. This was an important accessory because it helped to keep all of that hair from getting messed up as a result of sweating or headbanging.

Bandanas were popularized in 80s rock culture by legendary front men like Axl Rose of “Guns n Roses” who often wore bandanas during performances. Not only fashionable, bandanas were functional fashion as well.

9. Big Sunglasses

80s rocker sunglasses
No 80s Rocker Look Would Be Complete Without Some Cool Sunglasses

There were tons of iconic 80s sunglass styles to choose from during the best decade ever. But if you were into rock music, then having a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses like Wayfarers was the only way to go.

No rock fashion ensemble was complete unless you had some black sunglasses to match your leather jacket or pants.

10. Big Hair

80s big hair rock fashion
Big Hair Was An 80s Rock Calling Card

Arguably one of the most iconic 80s rock fashion that was ubiquitous was the big hair trend. 80s rock was big, and you needed larger than life hairstyles to match.

Some of the most popular hairstyles were the big perms and 80s mullets commonly seen sported by some of the biggest rock bands in the world during the time. Long and wild was in, and of course if you’re going to do some headbanging, you needed long hair to do it.

11. Bold Makeup

Bold Makeup Was A Popular 80s Rock Fashion Trend

Of course we couldn’t mention the larger hairstyles of 80s rock culture without also mentioning the makeup. Many rockers of the era set 80s makeup trends when it came to the genre.

Most notably we think of bands like KISS, Mötley Crüe, and front men like Dee Snider when we think of 80s rocker makeup. However other mainstream performers like David Bowie in the 80s often utilized heavy makeup during their performances as well.

Obviously we also need to mention the women when it comes to 80s rock makeup. Bold eye shadows and heavy eyeliner were commonplace in performances of female rockers like Joan Jett and Susanna Hoffs that helped cement the prevailing makeup trends in rock fashion of the time.

12. Washed Denim

80s washed denim
80s Rockers Often Wore Washed Denim

When it came to denim, acid wash jeans and jackets was the in style throughout most of the 1980s. That light faded look was perfect for just about any occasion.

The strong denim was able to withstand the weight of heavy wallet chains with ease, making it a popular choice among rockers of the time.

13. Leather Bracelets

80s leather bracelets
Leather Bracelets Were An Essential 80s Rock Accessory

You can’t talk about rock fashions of the 1980s without also talking about studded leather bracelets. You were not truly a rock musician or fan of rock music unless you had at least one studded leather bracelet or choker.

80s Rock Fashion Today

When it comes to rocker fashion today, to be honest much hasn’t changed because many of the popular bands of the 1980s are still touring! The fashion that was established in the era really still resonates today, and we still see these now older rock bands wearing what they wore to perform back in the day.

The 80s rock fashion worn today is unlikely to change, as part of the appeal of these concerts and the also now older concert-goers is the nostalgia, which of course the fashion is a very large part of. So you could say that 80s rock fashion was a trend that survived a decade of trends that mostly have been left behind (for good reason) in the history bins.

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