”Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Coco Chanel. Well, when the icon of the fashion industry says that, there can be no argument. Every age, every class, and every era has its own fashion scene.
1980s were times of disco, bright colors, baggy pants, oversized shirts, permed hair, basically a bold and loud statement. From wearing padded- shouldered blazers to animal prints every fashion clothing and accessory was big and bold.
Do you remember the time of high-waist pants? Well, that was the 80s—everything big and broad! Workout clothes were not far from this fashion statement. Jane Fonda! Does the name ring a bell? Her workout fashion was a statement on its own. Ripped tights, polished over-sized blazers, bright colors et al. Her style was loved by celebrities, and fashion icons from Madonna to Brooke Shields all glamorized these trends.
80s Fashion for Women
1. Shoulder Pads:
Made a loud statement that “we are equal to men”. Women’s blazers and coats had padded shoulders giving a broad shoulder appearance. It said, “Bring it on, I’m ready.” Even dresses had padded shoulders, giving the appearance of a strong woman—inside out.
2. Polka dress:
From the morning bold statement at work to a cute girl look with a polka dot dress that was the woman of 80s—who knew what she wanted. The style statement ranged from brave to cute. It was accessorized with a wide belt, giving a tiny- waist appearance. Polka pattern was in fashion in shirts, blouses, and skirts too. More the dots, better the style.
3. Animal Print:
Who can forget the animal prints! (It is making a comeback). Celebrities were commonly seen wearing animal prints. From tiger, cheetah, zebra to even giraffe print, that was the fashion of the 80s. Clothes, shoes, belts, bags, and scarves almost every fashion piece was made with animal print. So, it was animal on the plate and animal on the body!
4. Hair Styles:
Just like clothes, 80s makeup also made a bold statement. Permed, curled hair and bouffant style were the fashion in the 80s and hairspray were one of the most common hair products used by women. Who can forget the mullet, the hairstyle which has gone forever? Well, this was a popular style in the 80s which was short in the front and sides and long in the back.
Makeup was intense too, with bright blush or rouge as it was called back then, strong colors for the eyes, and dark lipstick mostly in shades of reds and pinks were the trend. Colored mascara from blue to yellow were available for lash lengthening, eyes had to be accentuated. Eyeshadows were dark or bright, worn all the way to the eyebrows. Thin and over-plucked eyebrows were out, and full brows were made fashionable by icons like Brooke Shields.
Fashion in the 80s made a powerful statement with intense makeup, animal prints, and shoulder pads. Colors used were bold and bright; magenta, fuchsia, neon colors, yellow were the colors of the day. Red and black which are an all-time favorite were of course in fashion.
Celebrities like Madonna, Brooke Shields, Naomi Campbell, and Tina Turner adorned bright colors and were the fashion icons of the 80s. Thus, the brighter the color, the more fashionable the person. Even in everyday clothes, people chose to be called fashionable with bold and bright colors.
7. Over-sized T-shirts:
With everything big, t-shirts were oversized too. Denim skirts, jeans, shorts with tucked in over-sized t-shirt were in fashion and comfortable to wear. College students and working people all welcomed the over-sized t-shirts for their style and comfort. Once again, this fashion is coming back after almost 40 years.
8. Denim Jackets:
Who can forget the denim jackets! If you had one, you were considered trendy. Most youngsters owned at least one pair of a denim jacket. A denim jacket could turn a simple attire into a fashionable outfit. That was an 80s trend which is making a comeback too. Denim in any case is forever and presumptuously will never go out of fashion.
9. Workout Clothes:
If you’re from the 80s and have seen Jane Fonda’s aerobic videos, you know the leg-warmers, leotards, headbands, neon-bright leggings. Fashion in the gym was bold and bright too. Matching headband, wristband, and sneakers were trendy. Even while working out, no one wanted to look uncouth by not following the fashion trend.
When the fashion in 80s was going bold, accessories were an important part of that bold look. Big hooped earrings, bandanas, crystal watches, wide belts, ribbon all added some punk rock look to the fashion of 80s (Ati, 2018). Socks are a necessity and not an accessory, right!
However, women in the 80s made socks a fashion accessory by wearing colorful socks, one pair over another. Stockings were in fashion too, from netted to clear, stockings were worn with an aplomb on miniskirts. Today, if you see that, you’ll most probably faint—but not back then!
11. Eye wear:
Glasses have been an important fashion accessory providing shade and relief against the harsh sun. Ray-ban Wayfarers were the most sought-after eyewear in the 80s. Large, plastic frames complimented the bold look, but small metal frames returned in the later part of the 80s.
12. Professional Fashion:
With more women joining the workforce in the 80s, they had to make a powerful statement. Knee-length skirts, wide-legged slacks, blazers with padded shoulder and pointed shoes with spiked heels gave an intense look and made a fashionable yet powerful statement. Primetime shows like Dallas and Dynasty emphasized on the strong and chic women of the 80s.
13. Fashionable Men of the 80s:
Men were not untouched by the boldness in the fashion arena. Polo shirts, popped collars, khaki slacks, suspenders, cable knit sweaters mostly worn around the shoulders made men match with their fashionable female partners. How can the men be left behind? So, the most fashionable men were found in the 80s.
14. Pleated Pants:
High-waist and pleated pants were in vogue in the 80s. Both men and women could be seen in pleated pants with matching blazers. Men wore their pleated pants with suspenders and were considered cool. Richard Gere and Tom Cruise have all been seen in these 80s fashion and they influenced the common me and how!
From sneakers to stilettos, pumps to boots all were a rage in the 80s. Matching shoes were fashionable, and women would go to great lengths to find shoes matching their attire. Whether it was a prom night or red- carpet party, women wore matching shoes, sequined shoes and glittery shoes. Higher the better!
16. Sequins and Ruffles:
Glitter was the trend, so sequins were seen on jackets, blouses, skirts, and jumpsuits. The powerful woman in the morning turned into a glamorous gal with sequined dress at night. Ruffles were extremely popular in the 80s, seen in shirts, dresses, purses, bags, and even shoes. Glamorous evening dress would have structured ruffles while floaty ruffles were more for a prom night.
17. Off-Shoulder Dresses and Blouses:
80s was a trendsetter in the fashion industry. Women were seen wearing off-shoulder dresses, single-shoulder dresses, and tops. This fashion returned in 2017, as you see models walking the ramp in single-shoulder jumpsuits, dresses, and tops. (Brewer, 2018).
18. Spandex and Ripped Knee:
Everyone from children to adults wore spandex, which was the material of the 80s. Cycling shots, leggings, tights all came in spandex. Leg warmer on top of spandex leggings and sneakers were trendy look for an evening stroll to the park or workout fashion. Ripped knee was so much in the trend that people cut their jeans to get this look. Today, you buy this 80s look as destructed jeans.
Since the 80s was about glitter, what glitters more than gold! Gold was the precious fashion metal of the 80s. Madonna, one of the biggest fashion icons adorned large crucifix on long chain necklaces and large, heavy earrings. Longs strands of beads in different colors was another trend. Chokers mixed with long chains gave a glamorous look. From gold to rubber, that was the fashion in the 80s. Madonna and other pop icons wore rubber bracelets making these a rage. They were worn on the entire arm, as many as you could fit.
So, the fashion in 80s was all about glitter and gold, bold colors and frills and those who could carry this ‘in your face’ kind of fashion were considered to be the fashion icons.