Most iconic fashion trends of the 1980s, from party costumes to 80s jeans
The fashion decade of the 80s holds a special place in fashion, trends, fashion, and style.
39" Slick wool wrap coat with exaggerated collar and tie belt
Adjustable button closure
Keep you deliciously warm in the icy days of winter, in great style!
Full Length Mink Fur Coat with Shawl Collar & Bracelet Cuffs (Demi Buff, XS)
In a world without fashion influencers or social media, 80s fashion was inspired by music and TV shows. This decade had more style icons than any other fashion decade.
‘Big,’ ‘bright,’And ‘loud’The 80s fashion decade was characterized by eye-straining patterns, power suits and shoulder pads, dramatic earrings and acid wash jeans.
The Most In-Style 80s Fashion Trends
1. Padded Shoulder Power Suits
2. Aerobic Leg Warmers
3. Leather Jackets with Rolled Sleeves
4. Statement T-shirts with Slogans
5. Polka Dot Dresses & Skirt Suits
6. Colorful Leotards & Bodysuits
7. Double Denim Top & Bottom
8. Stirrup Pants & Leggings
9. Swimsuits with high-cut designs
10. Acid Washed Jeans
At the same time, the eighties was a decade when many fashion trends that people love to hate were created – as you’ll see in our gallery of iconic ’80s outfits.
Hair was combed and shaped to its limits, layered and sometimes crimped. Make-up was bold and clashing with colors, almost like face paint.
1980s fashion styles were also about flaunting money – wearing designer outfits, preppy brands, and loud logos to showcase one’s wealth and status.
However, the 80s influence has shaped the culture and fashion looks of the decade, as well as the styles we wear today, in 2022.
In this article, I’ll take you back down memory lane to experience once again the most beautiful moments of the 80s fashion and styles.
These are the 21 most inspiring and representative 80s fashion images, photos, and moments.
Joan Collins (TV Star); Alexa Singer (Model – US Vogue October 1985); Rosie Vela (Supermodel).
Power suits and power dressing were all the rage during the 1980s as a fashion trend that was created by movie stars and celebrities who were power-hungry career women.
Grace Jones’ sharply-tailored suits with broad padded shoulders inspired the ‘girl power’ and cross-dressing movement of the 1980s – and an inspiration for artists such as Annie Lennox, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Solange, and Lorde.
Also, as a sign women were rising through the ranks, Britain was run by Margaret Thatcher, the country’s first-ever female Prime Minister.
Padded Shoulder Dress
Joan Collins; Dolly Parton (1987); Brooke Shields, Princess Diana
The 80s fashion trend for shoulder pads was so popular that dress designers began to adopt them.
For unique geometric shapes, and cuts, consider pairing your shoulder pads with vaporous dresses featuring puffed sleeves.
Leg warmers appeared everywhere in the 80s fashion, from big cinema screens to book and VHS covers – Jamie Lee Curtis iconic 80s aerobic styles in Perfect (1985), Jane Fonda’s workout books & videos (1986 & 1987), and more.
Fashion styles of the 80s were influenced by celebrities and stars of that era, who promoted fitness and aerobic exercises through TV.
Olivia Newton-John and Jane Fonda’s appearances (Flashdance in particular) turned legwarmers into every woman’s fashion statement.
Legwarmers are required for finishing touches on garments such as aerobic outfits, leggings and oversized sweaters.
Leather Jackets Sleeves Rolled Up
In the 80s, leather jackets with rolled sleeves were most popularized by musicians like Jon Bon Jovi, Morten Harket, and Micheal Jackson.
Leather jackets were worn by movie and music stars like Cher, Bon Jovi, Madonna and Morten Harket.
However, the most popular leather jacket styles had large, padded shoulders and were worn with the sleeves rolled up, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller look is the perfect example.
Preppy Fashion in the 80s
80s preppy fashion, also known as ‘Yuppie Student’The style of choice for affluent college students was displayed in famous 80s movies like Heathers (1988) as well as promoted by 80s American fashion brands like Bert Pulitzer and Ralph Lauren.
The 80s were also the decade that designers focused on stylish, comfortable preppy styles.
Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, Tommy Polo, and Calvin Klein all launched college-styled jackets, pants, and shirts in pastel colours with stripes.
Seen as a key 80s trend, preppy shirts (also seen in ‘Light Academia‘) were worn as either a formal button-down or a casual t-shirt.
Statement Tees & Slogan T-shirts
Followed the anti-war movements of the 70s, slogan tees were activists’ weapon of choice. The 80s saw some of the most famous fashion statements t-shirts. ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ by George Michael & Andrew Ridgeley Due, Wham!, Katharine Hamnett’s ‘SAVE THE WORLD’Extra large tee ‘WAR’Frankie Goes to Hollywood pop band to name just a few.
Statement tees, also called slogan t-shirts, are another 80s fashion-defining moment, beautifully exemplified by Katharine Hamnett’s pieces.
The designer’s anti-nuclear-missiles T-shirt, worn while meeting then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984, is now part of 80s fashion history.
The trend of logans printed on t-shirts was quickly adopted by Pepsi, Nike, Adidas, and Guess after realizing the advertising power of their own logos printed on T’s.
Celebrities around the globe made the 80s mini skirt a fashion statement. Here are some examples: Sabrina Salerno (Italian singer), the Argentinian comedy High Heels (Tacos Altos in 1985), and Victoria Principal (American actress) in her famous office look.
The 80s is also the decade of mini skirts, skater skirts, and Rah-rah’s.
Mini skirts first appeared in 1960s. They were often paired with go-go boots.
Mini-skirts were popularized in the 80s when they were worn with legwarmers and/or linguins.
Popular materials were denim and spandex (see Kylie Minogue’s high-shine minidresses) or augmented with layers of net and lace, Madonna-style.
Princess Diana featured polka dots of 40s many times on her 1986 royal tour of Japan or at Ascot in 1998. The ‘polka dots’Looked great on many 80s runways, including Emanuel Ungaro’s Summer-Spring 1985 and Yves Saint Laurent’s Summer-Spring 1986.
Inspired by 1940s – 50s fashion, polka dot dresses, skirts, and tops resurfaced in the 80s with a vengeance.
The French fashion house Emanuel Ungaro brought the style back to life with its SS 1985 ready to wear collection. It was quickly adopted by royalty, pop stars and movie stars alike.
Princess Diana loved wearing polka dots skirts. The Strawberry Switchblade duo had them on large PVC belts. Claudia Cardinale wore the distinctive dresses with tie necklines.
It reached its peak in popularity in the 60s. ‘Animal Print’It was back in the spotlight in the 80s fashion industry, popularized by celebrities like Joan Collins or Bon Jovi and fashion shows like Yves Saint Laurent F/W82/83.
Even in the 80s, natural skin from animals was fashionable.
However, that didn’t deter celebrities from wearing over-the-top animal prints on every imaginable outfit and style.
Bold prints of leopard, Zebra, Giraffe, Tiger, and Python were everywhere, from leggings to handbags to skirts and sunglasses.
Some of the most iconic 80s oversized glasses and sunglasses are Jane Fonda’s famous red spectacles at the ‘Genocide’ Beverly Hills Premiere in 1983; Sammy Davis Jr. 80s oversized glasses, Cindy Crawford’s oversized Cateye sunglasses in white frames for Laura Biagiotti magazine in 1987; Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous oversized sunglasses in the first ‘Terminator’ movie in 1985; Robert Redford’s oversized glasses in 1981. Meg Ryan’s geeky spectacles in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ in 1989; and Michael J. Fox’s oversized aviator sunglasses in ‘Back To The Future’1985
The 1980s saw the most popular sunglasses with large frames and colored or mirror lenses.
Rayban’s Wayfarers and Aviators were two of the most popular sunglasses frames in the 80s.
Depending on your social circle, Gucci, Cartier and Vuarnet could be seen in large frames.
For the 1984 and 1987 Haute Couture Spring/Summer collections and the Claude Montana for Genny 1984 collection, Pierre Cardin and Katie Pye, progressive fashion designers, introduced the asymmetric silhouette to fashion in the 80s.
Limited Lifetime Nobis Warranty,Premium Canadian Origin White Duck Down for ultimate warmth
Sympatex membrane laminated
Thierry Mugler’s spring 1983 ready-to-wear show is the best example of clothes in which one side is not the same as the other.
Molly Ringwald was a prominent Hollywood actor in the 80s who best illustrated the asymmetric style.
Asymmetrical design and style features include a one-shoulder bodice, slanted necklines or hemlines. These are often seen in streetwear pieces of Japanese fashion.
Leotards & Leotards
From the 80s Aerobic stars like Gilda Marx and Jane Fonda to the National Aerobic Championship Theme of 1988 and 80s famous gymnasts like Nadia Comăneci, leotards & bodysuits were the fitness fashion statements of the time.
After the 70s drugs, freedom and freedom “flower power”decade was over, the 80s began as a self-conscious decade.
Jane Fonda took advantage of women’s obsession with dance and exercise with fitness videos showcasing an extensive collection of bright colors bodysuits.
Cher was a music icon who helped to make bold colors fashionable by promoting and selling sportswear apparel.
Athleisure, which we now call it, was once a collection of leotards or bodysuits. It was a form of fashion that was functional.
‘Double Denim’This was a huge hit in the eighties, especially with vintage Levis jackets. There are many iconic 80s double denim looks: Johny Depp’s denim Vest & torn jeans, Whitney Houston’s oversized Levi’s denim jacket with high waist mom jeans, or John Stamos’ aviator Levi’s denim jacket with rolled-up sleeves.
Celebrity power has shaped fashion trends in the past, as evidenced by the 80s double denim craze.
Levi’s 501 jeans campaign involved top celebs of those times, such as Nick Kamen, who had a top 5 hit single in 1986, written and produced by Madonna and Stephen Bray.
The trend of pairing double denim jackets with high-waisted jeans continue until the end of the 80s, thanks to Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Ben E. King, and Percy Sledge boosting Levi’s sales and vinyl records.
High-Top Trainers & Thick Socks
In the 1980s, thick socks were paired with high-top trainers. This look was especially popular among 80s hip-hop stars like Salt-N-Pepa.
In a trend started by fitness celebrities that moved from gyms to 80s catwalks, thick socks, layered socks, and even socks with lace edging were an 80’s fashion statement for the girls.
Neon socks worn with trainers in a pair were very popular, whether they were worn together or paired with each other.
As the idea of wearing socks everywhere became more popular, ankle socks with heels began to appear in movies, TV, and on catwalks.
In the 80s, wearing short skirts to show off your legs was very cool – see Debbie Harry’s chic little black dresses accessorized with striking hosiery.
Initially, sheer tights had neutral colors – for a more natural look – like brown during the day and black in the evening
In response to the growing fitness trend, sheer colored tights became a fad in the mid-eighties. Many fashion brands began creating colored stockings.
The color trend of sheer tights in colored shades continued into the 90s, and was worn at work as well as at dinner events.
Stirrup Pants & Leggings
Stirrup pants and leggings were a key fashion trend of the 80s.
Stirrups, which are light metallic frames that hang on either side of a saddle and serve to support mounting or riding, are made from aluminum.
Stirrup pants borrow this concept, with a strap of material at one’s foot that holds the pants in place.
Because of their shape, stirrup trousers were popular in the 80s for sports like ballet and aerobics. Later, they became a part of daily fashion.
Women of all ages wore leggings and stirring pants towards the end the eighties. They were matched with large tshirts or comfortable oversized sweaters.
Decorative Lace Dresses & Accessories
Perhaps the most famous ‘lace gloves’ moment of 80s fashion was Madonna’s iconic lace dress paired white with lace gloves at Madonna MTV 1984. Joan Collins was also a part of this 80s fashion trend. Alexis Carrington, Alexis Carrington, in Dynasty (1983), wore lace gloves, a ruffle shoulder gown, and diamonds.
Madonna made her international hit after she launched it. “Like a Virgin”MTV’s 1984 MTV Fashion Week featured lace dresses and lace glove designs that became a fashion trend throughout the 1980s.
The trend can also be seen in movies. Alexis Carrington from Dynasty, played Joan Collins, is one of the most well-known examples.
‘Harem Pants’MC Hammer was the reason this look became so popular in the 1980s. The look was also popularized by Hollywood stars, such as Demi Moore or Donna Summer.
These pants were originally called a harem skirt and were introduced to fashion circles by Paul Poiret in 1910.
Harem pants were known as the MC Hammer pants. They were long and baggy with a low drop-crotch, and fitted at ankle.
Harem pants, with their psychedelic colors & dizzying patterns are another fashion look that made the 80s so memorable and original.
Swimsuits with high-cut designs
High-cut swimsuits were the dominant swim trends of the 1980s seen in many outlets including the 1987 issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit or famous Christy Turlington’s photoshoot by Gilles Bensimon for US Elle’s 1987 June issue. This trend was also popular with 80s celebrities such as Sybil Danning.
One-pieces with a high cut, like those worn by the Baywatch series babes in the 80s were a popular option for swimsuits.
The high cut was designed to elongate the legs while the waist tucked everything into a slimmer silhouette, whether there’s a bit of weight on the hips or tummy.
80s Fashion: Post-punk Fashion
The UK’s 80s music scene shifted away form punk to make way for the post-punk fashion style era. It included new stylistic movements such a gothic and indie movement. Unorthodox fashion designers led the post-punk fashion trend in the 80s, such as VivienneWestwood.
Inspired by London’s skinhead culture that took the 60s fashion by storm, the 80s punk style version had a milder, more enigmatic look.
The softer versions of the post-punk 80s fashion were influenced in part by a mix of skinhead culture and other musical trends, such as glam rock, psychedelic rock, and goth rock.
Acid Washed Jeans
Acid-washed jeans were everywhere, from Renée Simonsen’s vintage 80s Bonjour acid wash mom jeans and denim jacket to ‘Saved By The Bell’The late 1980s sitcom.
From the mid- to late 80s, acid wash jeans were in fashion.
It was invented in Italy by Rifle Jeans. It involves washing denim with chlorine, and distressing it with a pumicestone.
This style was often worn with biker jackets and fringe jackets (cowboy/country style leather jackets with lots tassels) and heavy metal and rock bands.
Although, many non-rock acts (such as Bros and Salt N’ Pepa) and brands like Jordache, Guess, Wrangler, Levi, and Gitano also jumped on the trend.
FAQs 80s Fashion
What were the most popular 80s clothes?
The 80s saw the greatest popularity of women’s clothing: legwarmers, power suits, legwarmers, and dresses with padded shoulders.
For men, the most popular 80s clothes were polo shirts (for women), Oxford shirts (for men), and turtlenecks (for men).
Both genders wore linens, velours, corduroy suits and high-waisted jeans.
What should I wear for an 80s party?
You can choose the style that you want to recreate at an 80s party by choosing what you should wear.
There were many fashion styles during the 80s. But the most popular were power-office, street casual and punk. Each style came with its own accessories.
Scrunchies, leg warmers and fingerless gloves are some of the most popular accessories from the 80s.
How can you dress in 80s fashion?
You can easily dress in 80s fashion style if you combine the most representative clothing of that decade with appropriate accessories.
For example, if you want to recreate a stylish 80s punk look, you’ll need a leather jacket, acid wash ripped jeans, a loud logo t-shirt, and a pair of black leather boots.
Finish the look by adding punk accessories such as studs and spikes to your bracelets, chains, and studs.
The 80s fashion look was influenced by the MTV music television channel and the first generation personal computers (1st Apple Computer) launched in 1981.
Music clips particularly influenced 80s fashion and American TV shows such as Dynasty and Dallas – think power suits and shoulder pads and fine jewelry worn by Alexis and Krystle Carrington.
Madonna, Joan Jett, and Cher’s video clips inspired teenagers to wear biker leather jackets, ripped tights, assorted with punk-styled bracelets, studs, spikes, and chains.
Similarly, Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner’s polished looks left their marks on 80s women’s fashion with asymmetric aesthetics, oversized blazers, and poof skirts.
And let’s not forget the influence that Jane Fonda and Olivia Newton-John’s fitness clips had on teen girls, even wearing sheer tights and legwarmers everywhere, with anything.
You have successfully signed up!
Now it’s your turn…
Which of these fashion trends from the 80s is your favorite?
Are there other fashion trends from the 80s that are not included in this list?
Please leave comments below!