The Ultimate Guide to 80s Fashion



Even as we finish off the second decade of the 2000’s ‘80s fashion trends are still making a comeback. From the runway to fast fashion brands, everyone is hopping on the 80s fashion bandwagon. It’s such a vibrant and iconic era for fashion, so why not remix it over and over again?

Early 80s Fashion vs Late 80s Fashion  

Early 80s fashion was coming out of the disco era in the decade before and was rather tame compared to the second half of the decade, which introduced the now iconic color scheme of the 80s. We were first introduced with aerobics-inspired streetwear like tights, track suits, and ripped sweaters. In a more professional setting, women rocked kitten heeled shoes and wide-legged trousers. In the mid 80s, looks became more colourful, bringing us power outfits such as oversized shoulders, thanks to shows like “Dynasty” and “Dallas”.

Late 80s fashion was slightly toned down, but not by much. Mini skirts reigned in popularity, shoulder pad sizes slightly decreased, and we were introduced to faux fur. Taffeta and pouf dresses, popularized by Dynasty, made it to the mainstream crowds, and bright opaque tights came into popularity. Soon after, we’d head into the punk fashion era.

80s New Wave fashion  

80s New wave fashion was inspired by 80s new wave music – it was a mosaic of mod, post punk, goth and glam rock, and involved a lot of guys wearing eyeliner. Fashion-wise, the new-wave look was extremely avant-garde. For women, the mediums of fishnets, lace and chunky, loud jewelry were all combined, whereas for men it was more big hair and black leather jackets. Oh, and a lot of safety pins.

80s women’s fashion

80s fashion for women was all about being dramatic and proud. Here are the most iconic women’s trends of the 80s:

Shoulder pads

Whether in a metallic dress or a blazer, shoulder pads are a total power move that we’ll never get sick of. We also love it in a matching pant suit with a wide brimmed hat. The Broad-shouldered structure was a hint to the future, where high fashions designer would often play with geometry in garment structure.  Size of shoulder pads fluctuated in the transition from the early and late 80s.

Bright/patterned tights

Whether it’s neon or cheetah print, the 80s really knew how to add some flair to their hosiery. It could truly finish off an outfit and was an opportunity to match your hose color or print to your outfit. Pair with some pointy toes heels or a tulle skirt for some truly 1980s magic.

High waisted jeans

The main key here? Acid wash! While the mom jean silhouettes of the 80s might not have been the most booty-flattering, the new ways that brands have reinvented it make the look a bit more elegant and curve-hugging. They’re simply perfect paired with a black or white tank and a statement belt. Don’t be afraid to get gaudy with accessories – it’s what the ‘80s was all about.

Colored leather

Brown and black leather, although chic and the norm today, would have made you a square in the 80s. Back then, it was all about bright red, blue, and pastel leather jackets. The weirder the color combination, the better.

Lamé

Today, we call this a metallic outfit. But metallic sometimes has a hard effect, and sequins or sparkles can be too much. It adds a fluid shine that is today recreated by high end brands like Rodarte to mass market stores like H&M.

Spandex

Yeah, athleisure isn’t totally original – Jane Fonda kind of made it an iconic 80s fashion trend for women. Were talking skin-tight leggings, leotards, unitards, and jumpsuits – if they’re in clashing neon colors, even better! Pair with some cozy leg warmers and a headband.

80s teen fashion 
While most of teen fashion can be described by the outfits in “Flashdance” (lots of leggings and leg warmers in every color) there were several non-workout inspired outfits that defined the teen looks of the era.

Jordache jeans

Everyone and their sister was begging their moms for a pair of Jordache jeans. Along with ripped and acid wash jeans, Jordache was the “it girl” jean  brand of the 1980s.

Fanny packs

They might be considered nerdy now, but they were the 80s version of a clutch, basically. This hands-free accessory was worn facing front or twisted to the side, acting as a belt to break up an outfit. It was also commonly added to a classic band t-shirt and baggy shorts.

Scrunchies

Headbands were also making waves in the 80s, but there wasn’t one girl that you’d catch without a scrunchie. This was the perfect opportunity to pile your hair into a high up pony and have an accessory that would match your tights or dress.

Stripes

Whether pastel, black and white, thick banded stripes were all over the wardrobes of teens. We particularly love it in an off-the0shoulder rendition.

80s kids fashion   

80s kids fashion was filled with embarrassing looks that fill our yearbooks today – but they weren’t so bad back then, were they?

Corduroy slacks

Every boy and girl owned a pair of corduroy slacks or corduroy separates, which definitely weren’t the most flattering in silhouette, but they did keep you cozy and were quite soft.

Rubber bracelets/bright bangles

Although it looks like garish costume jewelry to us now, every girl felt like Madonna when they rocked those bangles with their fingerless fishnet gloves.

arms with loom bracelets united

Jelly shoes

These shoes felt like anything but jelly – they were made of PVC plastic but were so inexpensive and on-trend – who wouldn’t want a pair of these loudly colored and funky shoes?