For many girls, 80s fashion meant slipping into a pair of Normandy Rose jeans, an oversized sweater, leg warmers & Keds (without laces of course) meant they were “dressed to impress”.
Add to this a Banana clip for the hair, frosty pink lipstick with baby blue eye shadow & you were, “like”, so cool.
80s fashion gave us Guess jeans, wedgies (Ahh, they were a shoe back then.. Nothing to do with underpants), jelly shoes & bracelets, satin ties, Izod polo shirts (with the collar up), & “Relax” T-shirts thanks to Frankie Goes To Hollywood (a popular band at the time). This era moreover brought back into vogue polka dots & zebra stripping. Brand names moreover became significant as a fashion statement, making Ralph Lauren & Calvin Klein household names, among others.
80s fashion styles for men often included such things as acid washed jeans, parachute pants, Reebok high tops, Converse hightops(chucks), Cotler pants, kamikaze shirts (These shirts allowed you to zip off the sleeves to show off your arms) & jean jackets.
During this era, accessories moreover needed to have high impact. For this reason, large gaudy accessories were proudly displayed. Earrings were either large hoops or long & dangly. Necklaces’, bangles & bracelets were layered & often had pendants hanging from them.
Whether 80s fashion agrees with you or not, you must admit it showed a uniqueness & freshness that had not been seen for a while. Teenage girls eagerly adopted the styles of Madonna or Cindy Lauper while the guys styled themselves off Wham or the Brat-Packers, Judd Nelson or Rob Lowe. This was the eighties & with it came a new freedom of expression.
The 1980’s were the start of the MTV revolution which would have a major impact on fashions & moreover bring us a new way of watching TV. The eighties were not approximately accessorizing yet approximately EXCESSorizing.
Early 80s Fashion In The UK
With the eighties came bands such as Adam And The Ants, Depeche Mode & Spandau Ballet who, driven by the success of MTV, became major fashion influences. Called New Romantic, this fashion movement started in the UK as a reaction against the punk culture of the 70s.
From the New Romantic movement came fashions such as the “Pirate” look which featured frilled buccaneer shirts, Hussar-style jackets & high-waisted, baggy trousers.
Another “NewRo” style was to wear your shirt collar in the upright, unfolded position against the neck with the top buttons unfastened. This became known as “popped collars”
Doc Martens And The Goths
Doc Martens shoes were worn by girls & guys in the early 1980s as a required fashion accessory for the punk & skinhead subcultures in the UK. Often paired with Laura Ashley- style dresses or mini skirts, they were an significant feature of the 80’s Gothic look.
The Gothic look featured pale skin with long, back-combed hair, lipstick, dark eyeshadow, black nail varnish, dog-collars & spiked bracelets.
The Gothic look re-emerged in the 1990s & again in the 2000s.
The Thriller Look Had A Brief Impact On 80s Fashion
Love him or hate him, Michael Jackson was a huge part of the eighties. After the release of his record breaking album “Thriller” in 1982, teenagers spent hours in front of a mirror trying to replicate the look.
If you came from the eighties you will know the look – matching red & black leather pants & jacket, one glove (yes, only wear one glove), sunglasses (called “shades” in the 80s), & jheri curl (a hairstyle that gave a glossy, loosely curled look).
The leather jackets were quite often studded & left undone to create that messy look.
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80s Fashion, Legwarmers & Flashdance
Leg warmers were around long before the 1980’s, however, it took the release of the movie Flashdance to make leg warmers became part of popular 80s fashion. Jeans, dresses, knit pants or miniskirts – if you were a girl of the eighties, you wore legwarmers with everything. It could be ninety degrees in the shade & there you would be in your Normandy Rose jeans & legwarmers.
For most circumstances, legwarmers were totally impractical, yet then, this was the eighties & as far as every teenage girl was concerned… legwarmers were cool!
80s Fashion & Madonna
In 1984, Madonna’s “street urchin” look became a fashion sensation with the release of her single “Like A Virgin”. Madonna’s street urchin look was created by designer Maripol & was made up of bleached, unmanaged hair with visible dark roots, layered lace tops, short skirts over Capri pants with fishnet stockings, crucifix jewelry & multi layered bracelets, lace ribbons, beads & fishnet gloves. Madonna moreover pioneered the craze of wearing a Bra on the outside of your shirt.
Madonna used layering to tremendous effect in her street urchin look. She would often wear a lace shirt over another shirt or a lace skirt over a short skirt which is over leotards.
The Miami Vice Look
In 1984, the American tv series, Miami Vice gave us the casual style of wearing t-shirts under expensive suit jackets. Many young to middle aged men eagerly adopted the “Miami Vice Look” with the inclusion of broad shoulder pads to jackets & the unshaven “designer stubble” look, made famous by Don Johnson (Miami Vice lead man).
Tom Selleck As Magnum, P.I.
Men moreover started wearing Hawaiian shirts with sports jackets & growing mustaches again thanks to Tom Selleck in the series Magnum, P.I. Gucci loafers moreover became fashionable as casual, yet expensive, footwear after being seen worn by Tom Selleck in a cologne advertisement.
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80s Fashion And Neon
As if 80s fashion wasn’t loud enough, neon colored clothing hit the scene, turning the brightness dial to max. Splashes of hot pink, green, yellow & orange could be seen everywhere on shirts, pants, over-sized sweatshirt s & even sunglasses.
The neon colors even took on a phosphorescent glow when worn at a disco or nightclub. With 80s fashion lighting up the streets, it’s effortless to see why Corey Hart wore his sunglasses at night (reference to the hit 80s song “Sunglasses At Night” by Corey Hart).
Acid Wash Jeans
One of the hottest fads of the eighties was acid wash jeans. Acid wash jeans didn’t become trendy until the middle to late eighties & faded out five years after (pun intended). Acid wash jeans & huge hair complimented each other & this phenomenon became characteristic of late 80s fashion.
Acid washing was a process that used chemicals to remove the top layer of color from the material, leaving the bare white fabric visible. The color still remained in the lower levels of the cloth thus giving it a faded look.
For many girls of the late eighties, being included in the “It” group required at least a matching pair of acid wash jacket & jeans to be worn. Better still was to wear your boyfriends acid wash jacket.
80s Fashion, Power Dressing And Shoulder Pads
The American soap opera, Dynasty was a huge influence in the way many 80s women dressed. The number of women entering the workplace had increased & many of these women were career driven. To be seen as, at least the equals of their male counterparts in the office, women started adopting the fashion styles of Linda Evans or Joan Collins from Dynasty. Shoulder pads became almost a requirement for female business attire. Many outfits came with Velcro fitted to the inside of the shoulders allowing for effortless attachment of various sizes of shoulder pads to suit your tastes.
Dynasty moreover encouraged women to openly flaunt their wealth by wearing glitzy jewelry, wool, cotton, cashmere & silk as opposed to nylons or synthetics.
For men, pinstriped business suits became popular again. The three-piece suits from the 70s faded out in the early 80s, with lapels becoming narrow, which was reminiscent of the 50s styles. Neckties narrowed in the 80’s. Skinny leather ties were often worn by guys who followed New Wave music.
Women’s fashion shoes took on the early 1960’s look of pointy toes & spiked heels. While for most of the eighties, brightly colored high heels were the preferred going out shoes, during the mid eighties, the casual & comfortable jelly shoes, or “jellies” as they were called, became trendy
The Preppy Look
Preppies were a group of kids bound for college or “prep” school. These teenagers wanted to succeed & typically stayed out of trouble. In the 1986 film, “Pretty In Pink”, preppies are referred to as “Richies” as seen by the seemingly “well-off” characters Blaine & Steff. Alex Keaton (Michael J. Fox) from the series, Family Ties, was another tremendous example of a Preppie.
The Preppie look included polo shirts, blazers, sweaters, button down shirts, penny loafers, LL Bean, turtlenecks, duck boots, rugbys & dress pants. Girls often wore Tretorn Tennis shoes, Laura Ashley dresses & Keds. To Preppies, appearances meant everything so they avoided the trends of neon fashion, ripped clothing, punk rockers & so on.
Ankle Socks And 80s Fashion
Ankle socks were sexy & seen in all the right places on all the right people. Actresses wore them, models wore them yet most importantly, they were seen in MTV videos.
Ankle socks were worn with tennis shoes or low heeled shoes yet to obtain the most out of them, you had to pair them with high heels. So hot, so sexy & so eighties…
ZZ Top in their single “Legs” made ankle socks a hot 80s fashion item.
Easy, affordable & comfortable to wear, jellies are made from PVC & so can come in many, many colors & styles. Being plastic made them tremendous for anything to do with water, yet it moreover meant they could obtain sweaty as plastic doesn’t breath like other fabrics.
When the shoes were first released, the only colors they came in were black or white. After becoming a popular 80s fashion accessory, more color variations were added such as pink, red, blue, & green. In their time, these shoes were sooooo coooool that no respectable wardrobe was complete without them.
Converse Hightops (Chuck Taylors)
Whether you were a girl or man – this 80s fashion crossed the gender barrier. Wearing two different colored Chucks became the eighties style for them shoes as well as personalizing them with pictures, notes & generally writing on them.
Other related 80s fashion links of interest
- 80s Fashion – A tremendous site approximately the 1980′s
- Awesome 80s Fashion – A satisfactory look back at other trends
- 80s Fashion – The Wikipedia page for 80s fashion
80s Fashion Trends – Bad 80s Fashion – 80s Clothes – Women Fashion 80s