As the 1980s was a time of radical fashion changes, it stands to reason that some of the most fashionable bands and artists also emerged during this era. From the iconic punk style of Cyndi Lauper to the glamorous look of Duran Duran, the 1980s was a time of eclectic fashion statements from musicians and bands worldwide.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most fashionable musicians and bands of the 1980s, looking at their style, music, and lasting influence.
80s Music Fashion Icons
Musicians of the 1980s were known to be fashionable, but there are few that stood head and shoulders above the rest.
So, who were the most fashionable musicians of the 1980s?
1. Duran Duran
Our first pick is Duran Duran. They had a unique style that combined new wave, rock, and pop elements. Duran Duran became one of the most prominent and influential bands of the decade and their epic music hits hugely influenced the music industry. They also created a global fanbase that still exists to this day.
Their iconic fashion sense included tight-fitting clothing and avant-garde makeup. Their look was inspired by punk and glamour styles from decades before them. Their hit single “Rio” helped catapult them into stardom in 1982, and their album “Seven & The Ragged Tiger” cemented them as a mainstay in popular culture for years to come.
Madonna is arguably the most iconic musician of the 1980s. Known as the “Queen of Pop,” Madonna’s 80s music significantly influenced the industry during the decade and beyond. Her impact on fashion is undeniable, from her provocative and stylishly designed clothes to her controversial music videos. She became a fashion icon for young girls and women everywhere, inspiring them to express themselves through their style and also to be bold.
Madonna also pushed boundaries with her gender-fluid style that featured feminine and masculine elements. Her look was often imitated but never duplicated, and she gained a loyal following of fans who adored her glamorous looks. As one of the most recognizable faces in pop culture, Madonna was a fashion powerhouse in the 80s and her influence on fashion still remains relevant today.
3. Michael Jackson
The one and only King of Pop, Michael Jackson, is undoubtedly one of the most influential musical artists of all time. In the 1980s, he dominated the charts with his groundbreaking music fusion of funk, rock, pop, and soul. He created some of the most iconic songs and music videos of the decade, including “Billie Jean” (1982), “Beat It” (1982) and “Thriller” (1982).
His fashion sense was also highly influential. He helped popularize the one-gloved look and wore his signature white socks, black loafers, and sequined jacket look. He was an innovator in fashion as well as in music, and his influence continues to be felt today. In fact the Michael Jackson costume is still one of the most popular for any event where one is required.
The Prince and the Revolution was one of the most famous music bands of the 1980s. Prince pioneered fusing different music genres, including rock, funk, and pop. He was one of the first artists to embrace an androgynous look and style, which endeared him to both genders. Some of Prince’s legendary 80s hits included songs like “When Doves Cry” (1984), “Kiss” (1986) and “Purple Rain” (1984). Prince created a unique sound that catapulted him to international fame, and he remained a legend until his untimely death in 2016.
Prince’s influence on the fashion world was also tremendous, with many people sporting his signature color scheme of purple and black. His style was often avant-garde and daring; he wore heels, jumpsuits, and oversized sunglasses. And of course who could forget his signature white ruffled shirts which he made probably more fashionable than they should’ve been.
5. Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper stood out as one of the most adored musicians in the 1980s and beyond. This iconic singer was known for her sound that was a unique mix of pop and punk, making it stand out from the other bands of the time.
Cyndi Lauper in the 80s brought a new sound to the music industry and quickly became a household name. The most successful single from her album “She’s So Unusual” was “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” which was released in 1983. This song reached the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a massive hit for her and still remains a timeless classic.
Lauper also had many fashion influences. Her style was often described as punk-pop or rockabilly. She was known for her bright and colorful clothes, featuring graphic tees, vibrant prints, and many accessories. Her influence extended to the bold 80s makeup trends she rocked, with brightly colored eyeshadow being a crucial part of her look.
6. Bon Jovi
One of the highlights of Bon Jovi’s career in the 1980s was their massive success with the 1986 album “Slippery When Wet”. This album featured the chart-topping singles “You Give Love a Bad Name” (1986) “Livin’ On a Prayer” (1986) and “Wanted Dead or Alive” (1986). These songs helped propel the band to international stardom and made them one of the most popular acts of the decade.
Besides their studio albums, Bon Jovi also toured extensively in the 1980s, playing hundreds of shows across North America and Europe. Their popularity continued to grow throughout the decade, and they remain a popular act to this day. To this day, they are remembered fondly as one of the most fashionable music bands of the 1980s with their adherence to popular 80s rock fashion that was prevalent during the time.
7. George Michael
Pop music-legend, George Michael, was a member of the music group Wham! in the 1980s and even after their disbandment, he rose to fame as a solo artist. He is still considered by many to be one of the greatest pop singers of all time and he helped to bring pop music back into the industry.
George Michael also has sold over 100 million records worldwide and his work continues to influence many artists today. He was also famous for his charity work and being an advocate for LGBT rights, along with of course being one of the most fashionable music icons on the 1980s.
8. David Bowie
Legendary rocker David Bowie would of course have to make our list of most fashionable musicians of the 1980s. The star was known of course for his epic 80s music but he was a fashion icon as well. Known for his outlandish on-stage outfits and bold makeup choices, David Bowie was just as much a fashion trailblazer as he was a talented musician.
Musical hits like “Under Pressure” (1981) and “Lets Dance” (1983) brought this English star into the American music arena, and his artistic talent is still felt years later since his death in 2016.
9. Joan Jett
Our last (but not least) most fashionable musician of the 1980s was the queen of rock n’ roll herself. Joan Jett in the 80s was known for her hits like “I Love Rock N’ Roll” (1981) and “I Hate Myself For Loving You” (1988) and her on-stage fashion of heavy leather and iconic 80s makeup of course lands her on our list. Not only was she a pioneer for female musicians, but she was also an 80s fashion icon as well.
So those are our picks for the most fashionable musicians and bands of the 1980s. Did your favorite make the cut?