The styles and trends of the 1980s are truly unparalleled. Without the internet and social media, the 1980s saw more fashion icons emerge from music and television than any other decade before or after. Flashy colors and patterns, oversized clothing, shoulder pads, dramatic jewelry, and loud accessories like acid-wash jeans characterized the fashion of the 1980s. Many significant fashion designers’ careers got their start in the 1980s. The 1980s were a decade of unique styles thanks to the work of several prominent French designers. This piece will take you back to the ’80s runway and show you some of the most memorable fashion and style moments.
Distinctive Features of the 80’s Fashion
The 1980s were a decade of maximalism and excess for both sexes. Therefore, the decade was characterized by daring fashions, vivid hues, and striking cuts. Hip-hop, preppy, fitness, rock, and punk were some of the forward-thinking styles that emerged in the ’80s.
1. Underwear played a significant role as outerwear
In the 1980s, women’s underwear became a mainstream fashion item thanks to the efforts of French designer Jean Paul Gaultier. He created form-hugging corsets from every material imaginable, from leather to lace, and intended them to be worn under shirts. Women went wild over them. The look became popular among ’80s rocker girls thanks to Madonna. These modern corsets were a considerable improvement over the old boned ones. Many of these bras had hooks in the back rather than laces since the wire stays were flexible and moved with the wearer.
2. Volume makes a statement
Christian Lacroix was an early adopter of short, voluminous skirts, a significant trend of the 1980s. Lacroix designed layered taffeta and satin skirts that reached the knee. Wedding cake layers inspired these garments. In addition, he created pleated, knee-length skirts that were layered with different hues of tulle. The likes of Cyndi Lauper were instrumental in popularizing these fanciful skirts. Lacroix frequently wore them with waist-length, form-fitting jackets to balance out the volume of the dress.
3. Triangles and Pads were essential
By fusing the boxy suit-jacket style of 1940s Hollywood with futuristic angles and lines, French designer Thierry Mugler rocked the fashion world in the 1980s. He took full advantage of the trend for shoulder pads by designing coats and skirts with triangle silhouettes characterized by exaggeratedly broad shoulders and sharply tapered waists. Dresses he created had broad, puffy shoulders and flared out at the hips, thanks to embellishments or darts. He frequently added a V-shaped V-cut to the waist to further emphasize the sharp angles.
4. Colorful, bold materials were common
The French fashion designers of the 1980s were open about using bright colors and luxurious fabrics. Dresses for fashion superstars like Princess Diana and First Lady Nancy Reagan were made by combining cotton, silk, and rayon with silver or gold lamé, lace, or tulle. Gaultier, Lacroix, and Mugler, among others, used various materials, including leather and Lycra, and adorned their outfits with countless sequins and beads.
5. Avant-garde Fashion and Statement Accessories
France was not immune to the trend of ’80s statement jewelry and accessories. Both men and women wore enormous stud earrings, bracelets, and necklaces as a fashion mainstay. Also standard were belts with large buckles worn high on the waist. France’s reputation for cutting-edge style has endured for decades, and the 1980s saw no change. French designers took risks with unconventional silhouettes, asymmetrical patterns, and new fabric types. Thierry Mugler and Jean-Paul Gaultier rose to fame with their eccentric and risk-taking designs.
Most Notable Fashion Trends in the ’80s
The 1980s were a magnificent time for fashion, when voluminous shapes, teased perms, and vivid colors reigned supreme. Puffed shoulders and power suits were famous, as were colorful skirts and spandex leggings, velour, leg warmers, and baggy parachute pants. Before the stock market crash of 1987, the world was getting wealthy. Most closets were filled with Christian Lacroix’s theatrical, flashy designs, Azzedine Alaia’s figure-hugging dresses, and Thierry Mugler’s angular shoulders; during the 80s, Japanese designers such as Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons exemplified a new form of cool using sculptural silhouettes. They became household names among fashionistas in the 80s, helping to solidify black’s status as the season’s “it” shade.
1. Power Suits
Stars who play intense, ambitious businesswomen in film and television are primarily responsible for the current fad. Artists like Annie Lennox, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Solange, and Lorde owe a debt to the ‘female power’ and cross-dressing movement of the 1980s, inspired by Grace Jones’ finely fitted suits with big, padded shoulders. As another example of women’s progress, Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister, was in charge.
2. Padded Shoulder Dresses and Blazers
Dress designers were not immune to the shoulder pad craze that swept the 1980s.
Dresses with puffy sleeves and pronounced shoulder pads created one-of-a-kind geometric silhouettes. Shoulder pads and an overall boxy silhouette characterized the ’80s. The oddly attractive shape they impart on a dress or blazer results from making your shoulders appear more expansive than your hips.
3. Colorful Leg Warmers
The fitness fashion of the 1980s was significantly more intricate than the modern fitness trend. Everyone’s idea of a fitness wardrobe included a swimsuit, leggings, and knee-high socks. Furthermore, it has vibrant colors, and everything is color-coordinated. Stars and celebrities of the 80s era pushed fitness and aerobics on television, significantly impacting fashion. Legwarmers became ubiquitous after being popularized by Olivia Newton-John and Jane Fonda. Colorful legwarmers were a necessary accessory for many types of clothing, including aerobic ensembles, gym leggings, oversized sweaters, and even skinny jeans for women.
4. Rock and Punk Leather Jackets and Rolled Up Sleeves
In the 1980s, leather jackets were all the rage, worn by everyone from Bon Jovi and Madonna to Cher, Tom Cruise, and Morten Harket. Michael Jackson’s Thriller look is a prime example of the fashionable leather jacket fashions of the 1980s, which featured big, padded shoulders and sleeves that were worn rolled up. You may also personalize a double rider or cafe racer leather jacket, two other famous 80s jacket styles. The 80s rock fashion scene was as over the top as the decade. The hair was enormous, the fashion was outlandish, and the makeup was thick. Leather was a crucial component of the rock style in the 80s, and accessories like big jewelry and colorful headbands. The punk styles of the 1980s were far more in style than the glitzy 80s rock, although leather was a significant part of the ‘rock n roll fashion’; other trends included flashy accessories and hairdos like multicolored mohawks and spikes.
5. Mini Skirts
The miniskirt became a symbol of 1980s style, an essential part of every woman’s wardrobe. The mini skirt was only one example of the 80s’ notoriously risky fashion choices. Miniskirts, skater skirts, and Rah-rah’s were also popular. In the 1960s, miniskirts initially appeared, and they were frequently worn with go-go boots. However, the 1980s were the heyday of the miniskirt, especially when paired with legwarmers or leggings. Denim and spandex, sometimes layered with net and lace-like Madonna’s signature look, were popular fabrics. The emphasis on a youthful and active appearance is reflected in the tailored cuts of the skirts, which draw attention to the wearer’s legs.
6. Boots and Striped Pants
Women of the 1980s were fixated on stripes and boots, as seen by the casual look of the era’s most iconic ensembles. This explains the era’s widespread adoption of striped pants paired with ankle boots. An emphasis on unique and daring pieces characterized the fashion of the punk and new-wave scenes of the 1980s. Both sexes wore striped pants, which may be black and white or multicolored. These pants were known to make a bold statement when coupled with edgy accessories. To top off a punk or new wave ensemble, a pair of boots with a chunky heel or platform sole, like Doc Martens or combat boots, was a common choice.
Fashion in the 1980s glam rock and heavy metal scenes was recognized for being flashy and glitzy. Striped pants were typically worn at a high waist and were form-fitting to show off the wearer’s legs. They were commonly worn with heeled heels, whether stilettos or leather boots decorated with buckles or studs. Many followers of the preppy style favored striped pants in subdued tones, such as navy blue and white. These bottoms were commonly worn with polished leather boots or loafers to complete the image.
7. Bold Icons and Logos
The ’80s are often seen as a time when people made bold statements, thanks mainly to the influence of labels, logos, and idols. Everyone coveted a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers after seeing them on teenage Tom Cruise in the 1983 film “Risky Business.” With some deft product placement, Calvin Klein underwear became Marty McFly’s wardrobe in “Back to the Future.” The 1985 model year of Michael Jordan’s iconic Air Jordan sneakers fetches a then-astronomical price. After Michael Jordan wore the first Nike Air Jordans in a game, every youngster wanted a pair. Reebok’s high-top sneakers and Adidas’ Superstar shoes and tracksuits were likewise considered the height of fashion. Popular brands at the time were Guess, Benetton, Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, and Lacoste. The sheer variety of status symbols, fashion options, and style icons of the 1980s is mainly responsible for the era’s enduring appeal.
8. Polka Dot Patterns
Dresses, skirts, and shirts with polka dots, a popular style in the 1940s, had a massive comeback in the 1980s. The French design label Emanuel Ungaro revived the look for its SS 1985 ready-to-wear collection, and A-listers across all industries quickly embraced it. As you all know, polka dots are the ideal print for a throwback style. The truth is that not only the 1960s but also the 1980s were obsessed with polka dots. It may be hard to believe that something so refined was needed during all the neon and denim. Although it may be hard to believe, polka-dot gowns were popular in the 1980s.
9. Animal Prints
Wear natural animal skin was still a fashion trend in the ’80s. However, this did not stop famous people from donning wild animal prints in every conceivable way. Wild animal prints, including leopard, zebra, tiger, giraffe, and snake, were seen on everything from leggings to purses to skirts to sunglasses. Blouses, skirts, dresses, slacks, jackets, and even bathing suits were frequently adorned with animal patterns. The prints were often paired with other vivid colors and striking designs, giving 80s clothing a signature and impressive look.
10. Oversize Shirts with Denim Shorts and Baggy Pants
The 80s were also notable for their oversized clothing. No one would guess you were wearing your father’s favorite shirt. Not to mention, whenever you go, you’d be regarded as a true fashion icon if you wore such a shirt with high-waisted jeans shorts. As part of the loose and comfortable styles of the 1980s, oversized shirts were frequently worn with shorts and baggy pants. The advent of hip-hop music and the acceptance of casual athletic gear impacted this trend. Shirts that were too large for the wearer were known as “big shirts” or “baggy shirts,” They had a roomy, oversized cut. They were long and loose, falling below the hips, and were often made of breathable materials like cotton or linen.
The shorts that were popular in the 1980s were baggy and comfortable. Denim, cotton, and nylon were common materials for these garments, and their normal length was just above the knee. The loose cut of the shorts went well with looser-fitting tops for a laid-back, casual ensemble. The 1980s also saw the rise of the baggy pant. They had a baggy, voluminous cut that narrowed towards the bottom. Cargo pants, parachute pants, and tracksuit bottoms were just some options for loose-fitting bottoms. Pants like these were often crafted from nylon or polyester, both lightweight and breathable. Hip-hop performers, break-dancers, and skateboarders of the 1980s popularized wearing oversized tees, shorts, and baggy pants together. The influence of street culture and athletic aesthetics on mainstream fashion at the time can be seen in this style, as can the need for comfort and mobility flexibility.
Iconic Fashion Symbols of the ’80s
Madonna, George Michael, Princess Diana, and Joan Collins are the legendary fashion icons of the ’80s, representing originality and chicness at their finest. They set the tone for the rest of the decade and the years to come; for example, Boy George and the Blitz Club team helped usher in the punk era, while the stars of Dynasty made epaulets a standard part their wardrobe. Michael Jackson rules the pop and flamboyant fashion world, while Lady Di can pull off a range of seductive, masculine, and colorful styles. It’s no surprise that the 1980s still captivate fashionistas everywhere. Here are some of the most historical figures who serve as contemporary fashion icons in the glitz and glamour of the 80s.
1. Madonna’s ’80s glam-punk style
Madonna, the “Queen of Pop,” significantly impacted women’s fashion in the 1980s with her varied and provocative style choices. She is one of the most iconic figures in 80s fashion history because of her groundbreaking musical career and her beyond-the-ordinary sense of style, which included lace, fishnet stockings, and religious imagery. Madonna ruled the 1980s and primarily shaped the decade’s fashion. In 1983, our favorite Madge exploded into the music world in a flurry of couture scrunchies, leathers, and tutus. The pop diva continued to set trends with her beautiful body and conical bras for the remainder of the decade. Everyone is naturally in awe of the pop queen, who maintained her undisputed reign with a singular aesthetic and a wealth of out-of-the-ordinary stylistic experiences. Madonna’s appearance and style have constantly changed over the decade to keep her at the top of the music and media industries. There is no denying Madonna’s impact on 1980s style. She set the benchmark for a new kind of beauty at the time, and she became an instant fashion icon.
2. Princess Diana’s timeless fashion sense
The influence Princess Diana had on ’80s fashion and popular culture cannot be summed up in a simple word. She’s ahead of the curve in style, marking an entire generation with her magnificent wedding dress and devotion to epaulets. She was the era’s trendsetter and a power shoulder champion. She wore the decade’s signature vibrant colors and stunning silhouettes, even in her more informal attire. Admirers noted Diana’s fashion sense as reflecting her growing self-assurance and maturity as she became more comfortable in her royal role and adored by the public. As Diana matured and gained self-assurance, her style naturally developed over time. However, she always carried herself gracefully and elegantly, whether cheering on Prince Charles at a polo match, wearing a stunning white gown and tiara, or turning heads in a little beaded dress.
3. Michael Jackson’s 80’s Pop Look
Many 80s fashions may be traced back to Michael Jackson, “The King of Pop,” including the classic “Thriller” leather jacket with rolled-up sleeves. This jacket is an excellent example of the 1980s style. It became instantly recognizable as a hallmark of Michael Jackson’s aesthetic and a popular trend throughout the decade. In 2011, this cultural relic fetched a staggering $1.8 million at auction. The new owner proclaimed it “the largest piece in world rock history” after acquiring it. The American musician’s ostentatious and theatrical stage attire also drew inspiration from military and future fashions.
4. Prince Flamboyant Style
Prince is widely recognized as one of the most eccentric and theatrical musicians of the 1980s and a major creative force in men’s fashion of that era. Androgynous high heels and oversized sunglasses revealed Prince’s signature look, including tight and brilliantly colored jumpsuits, tights, and ruffled blouses. Prince’s distinctive and varied sense of style was inspired by funk and R&B. The American singer was regarded as one of the era’s most dapper men, and his tasteful aesthetic had a lasting impact on the music and fashion industries. In the 1980s, Prince had an unquestionable impact on the industry. His extravagant flair for the dramatic spread the trend of wearing purple by men.
5. Boy George Peacock Punks Style of the ’80s
Boy George is the former main singer of the British musical group Culture Club and a solo artist, DJ, and designer. Boy George was most influential in the wide spread of London’s peacock punks in the ’80s and considered his style of art. His crew of ‘Blitz kids,’ including Leigh Bowery and Stephen Jones, transformed the nightclub scene into a vibrant fashion show by partying hard and dressing to the nines. Boy George, now a significant figure in the LGBTQ movement, was primarily responsible for making androgynous and gender-bending clothing and hairstyles mainstream for guys in the 1980s. George wore flamboyant, exotic designs and stripes, accessorizing with hats, big earrings, and bracelets. He also wore bright lipstick and lots of eyeliner.
The 1980s continue to inspire today’s trends since they represent both individuality and risk-taking in terms of personal style. The 1980s continued to provide designers with a never-ending stream of ideas. This era’s vibrant style has given the fashion industry, not only in France but the world, a classic piece since it embodies a liberating attitude. The decade of the 1980s is known for its eccentricity and irresponsibility. In favor of restructuring and flashy clothing, wardrobes have abandoned intelligent looks. In the 1980s, pop music and acidic tones were given complete freedom; the decade of the 1980s profoundly impacted popular culture and fashion trends, influencing the fashions we wear today. Power dressing, denim overalls, and leather jackets are just a few of the 1980s fashion trends in 2023.