Vintage Retro Series: 1980s Style And Fashion Ideas

1980s Style And Fashion Ideas

Big, bright, colorful, and asymmetric. The 1980s was a decade of indulgence. Hippies from the ’70s were growing up, graduating college, and shedding their bell-bottoms and leather fringe, for a newly coined term Yuppie. The Brat Pack showed an entire generation how to dress.

Women and even some went for big hair and even bigger bangs that were sprayed up to daredevil heights. Hair was teased into geometrically defying shapes and set with ozone-depleting amounts of Aquanet hairspray. Paul Mitchell and Vidal Sassoon quickly became a rich girl’s best friend, but the general population stuck to the super cheap Aquanet. 1980s hair is no simple undertaking.

Big Hair, Don’t Care

Many spent hours getting permanent waves, then curling and blow-drying bangs to hang inches above the forehead into what has now been termed “Mall Hair”. Men had their own version and the hair was trimmed neatly in the front and around the ears then left longer and permed in the back.

This style also was given the name “Mullet” – business in the front; party in the back! As the decade wore on the styles became a little more extreme. Hair was shaved into geometric bobs with one side longer, the top ratted elevated inches above the head into spiky points. Bleaching hair to inhuman colors of blond and then highlighting it with strips of fuchsia, and eggplant colors also became a trend. The fact that anyone escaped with a full head of hair is simply astounding.

1980s Hair Trends

The 1980s were a time of extravagant and distinctive hair trends that reflected the bold and dynamic spirit of the decade.

Banana hair clips became a ubiquitous accessory, used to create a variety of hairstyles. These elongated, curved clips were often adorned with colorful designs and were used to secure voluminous hair in various updos, from high, cascading ponytails to oversized buns. Banana clips added a touch of flair to any hairstyle, and their popularity was a testament to the era’s fascination with statement hair accessories.

Big bangs were a hallmark of 1980s hair fashion, with many individuals opting for voluminous, teased, and heavily hairsprayed bangs that defied gravity. This iconic hairstyle was often seen on both men and women, and it required meticulous teasing and styling to achieve the desired height and fullness. Big bangs were a bold statement of self-expression and a reflection of the era’s love for excess.

Hair crimpers emerged as a popular styling tool in the 1980s, allowing people to achieve the signature crimped texture that defined many ’80s hairstyles.

Girl with red crimped hair in true 1980s fashion.

Crimpers created a zigzag pattern in the hair, adding volume and texture. The crimped look was often combined with big bangs or incorporated into intricate updos, contributing to the overall flamboyance of ’80s hairdos.

Mullets were another iconic hairstyle of the 1980s, characterized by short hair in the front and sides and long, flowing locks in the back. This style was often sported by rockstars and rebels, symbolizing a fusion of business in the front and party in the back. The mullet was embraced by both men and women, making it a quintessential ’80s hairstyle.

Scrunchies and side ponytails represented a more playful and casual side of ’80s hair trends. Scrunchies, often made from brightly colored fabrics, were used to secure high side ponytails, creating a look that was fun and carefree. The side ponytail became a popular choice for those looking to add a touch of whimsy to their everyday style, and it perfectly complemented the vibrant fashion of the decade.

Radical Fashion Trends

Clothing and accessories became brighter, and splashes of color carefully coordinated from the earrings to shoes became a necessity. Earrings came in all shapes the bigger and brighter the better. It was better to get lighter plastic so that the lobes would be able to support the size.

1980s Jacket Trends

The 1980s were a vibrant and influential decade in the world of fashion, and jacket trends during this period were no exception. One of the most iconic jacket styles of the 1980s was the bomber jacket. Originally designed for military pilots, the bomber jacket became a symbol of cool and rebellion. Made from durable materials like leather or nylon, these jackets featured a distinctive ribbed collar, cuffs, and waistband, often in contrasting colors.

Bomber jackets were adorned with patches, emblems, and insignias, adding to their rugged and adventurous appeal. The popularity of bomber jackets was fueled by their association with pop culture icons like Tom Cruise in “Top Gun,” cementing their status as a must-have fashion item of the era. Check out these bomber jacket outfit ideas if you’re looking to achieve this look. 

Another noteworthy jacket trend of the 1980s was the Members Only jacket. These jackets were characterized by their sleek, minimalist design and distinctive epaulettes on the shoulders. Made from lightweight materials like polyester, Members Only jackets were available in an array of pastel and vibrant colors, reflecting the bold and vibrant fashion sensibilities of the decade. The Members Only brand, with its signature chest pocket and trademark logo, became a status symbol and a fashionable choice for those looking to make a statement with their outerwear.

Additionally, the 1980s saw the rise of Starter jackets, which became synonymous with sports fandom. These jackets, often featuring team logos and colors, were made of satin or nylon and had a snap-button front closure. Starter jackets allowed fans to proudly display their allegiance to their favorite sports teams while staying warm and stylish. These jackets became highly collectible items, and their popularity extended beyond sports arenas, making them an integral part of 1980s fashion culture. Overall, the 1980s were a decade marked by diverse jacket trends, from the rugged allure of bomber jackets to the sleek and stylish appeal of Members Only and the sports-centric Starter jackets, all contributing to the era’s unique fashion landscape.

1980s Jean Trends

The 1980s witnessed a variety of distinctive jean trends that reflected the eclectic and vibrant fashion of the era. Most of the high-waisted blue jeans from the 1980s are now considered “mom jeans” and are back in style! Here are some of the other coveted jean styles and brands from the 80s:

Corduroy pants, which had previously been associated with a more casual and relaxed style, gained popularity during this decade. These pants were characterized by their ribbed texture and were available in various colors. Corduroy pants allowed individuals to add a touch of sophistication to their casual looks, making them a versatile choice for both daytime and evening wear.

Flowered jeans were another iconic jean trend of the 1980s, embracing the era’s fascination with bold patterns and vibrant colors. These jeans were adorned with floral motifs, often featuring eye-catching designs in bright hues. Flowered jeans were a staple in many fashion-conscious wardrobes, offering a playful and whimsical twist to denim fashion.

Pepe Jeans, a British denim brand, enjoyed immense popularity during the 1980s, particularly for its slim-fit and stylish designs. Known for their high-quality denim and distinctive logo, Pepe Jeans became a symbol of youth culture and fashion-forward thinking during the decade.

Pleated jeans emerged as a notable trend, featuring pleats on the front of the jeans, creating a relaxed and comfortable fit. This style catered to those who sought a more relaxed and casual look without compromising on style.

Ripped knee jeans gained prominence as a symbol of rebellion and non-conformity, often associated with punk and rock subcultures. These jeans featured intentional tears and distressing around the knee area, giving them a worn-in and edgy appearance.

Z. Cavaricci jeans were known for their high-waisted, baggy design, adorned with signature pleats and a unique, distinctive look. These jeans were favored by those who embraced a more flamboyant and daring style, making them a quintessential choice for 1980s fashion enthusiasts.

Zena Jeans were another notable addition to the diverse jean trends of the 1980s. Zena Jeans were recognized for their high-waisted, tapered-leg design that accentuated the waist and hips while narrowing down towards the ankles. This unique cut gave wearers a fashionable and figure-enhancing silhouette, which was especially favored by women during the era. Zena Jeans also featured a variety of washes and finishes, from classic blue denim to stonewashed and acid-washed variations, catering to different style preferences.

1980s Shoe Trends

The 1980s witnessed a wide array of shoe trends that reflected the eclectic and ever-evolving fashion of the era.

Boat shoes, originally designed for sailors, found their way into mainstream fashion. These shoes were characterized by their slip-on design, leather or canvas upper, and non-marking rubber soles with a distinctive moccasin-like stitching. Boat shoes exuded a casual yet preppy vibe, making them a popular choice for those seeking a laid-back and nautical-inspired look. Legions of people stormed the streets without socks in colorful boat shoes and trousers cut to the ankles.

Doc Martens with clunky soles emerged as a symbol of counterculture and rebellion in the 1980s. With their chunky soles, distinctive yellow stitching, and durable leather uppers, Doc Martens were favored by punks and alternative music enthusiasts. They represented a bold and subversive fashion statement, challenging the mainstream norms of the time.

Jelly sandals, now known as jellies, were a playful and colorful addition to 1980s footwear. Made from translucent plastic materials, these sandals came in various bright colors and often featured glitter or metallic accents. Jellies were lightweight, waterproof, and perfect for summer, capturing the youthful and carefree spirit of the decade.

Michael Jordan’s high-top sneakers, often referred to as “Air Jordans,” became an iconic symbol of athleticism and style. These sneakers, produced by Nike, featured bold designs, innovative cushioning technology, and the famous Jumpman logo. Michael Jordan’s influence on basketball and fashion made his high-top sneakers a must-have for sports enthusiasts and sneakerheads alike.

Moccasins offered a touch of comfort and authenticity to 1980s shoe trends. These soft, slip-on shoes were typically made from suede or leather and featured a flexible sole, making them a comfortable choice for both casual and bohemian-inspired looks.

Nike Classic Tennis Shoes with the iconic Swoosh logo became a staple in the 1980s sneaker culture. These simple and clean designs were favored for their versatility and sporty appeal, making them suitable for a wide range of outfits and activities.

Vans Classic Slip-Ons, known for their checkerboard pattern and slip-on design, epitomized the skateboarding and California lifestyle of the 1980s. These sneakers offered a laid-back and effortlessly cool style that resonated with the youth culture of the era.

White canvas sneakers and white leather Huaraches, or basketweave shoes, were also popular choices for those seeking a clean and minimalist look. These shoes were versatile and could be paired with a variety of outfits, from preppy to casual, making them timeless classics in 1980s footwear fashion.

1980s Shoes You Can Buy Today

All of the popular shoe trends of the 80s are back in style and available again! Click on the links for photos and to purchase.

More 1980s Fashion Trends

  • Benetton Cologne
  • Coca-Cola Collared Rugby Shirts
  • Leg Warmers
  • Lacey Shirts
  • Neon Colors
  • Parachute Pants
  • Swatch Watches
  • Shoulder Pads – Shoulder pads were added to every piece of clothing worn above the waist for men and women alike. It was as though the weight of the world could be supported on the shoulder pads of this self-centered generation.

With the help of Boy George, make-up took on a world of its own for men and women. A pale base coat was spackled thickly over the entire face, carefully avoiding the neck to create a mask-like appearance.

Boy George
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – Oct 19, 2017: Culture Club is an English pop group that formed in London in 1981. The band comprises Boy George

Best Boy George Songs of the 1980s

  • Do You Really Want To Hurt Me
  • It’s A Miracle
  • Karma Chameleon
  • Life
  • Love Is Love
  • Miss Me Blind
  • The Crying Game

Bad To The Bone Makeup

This created a clean slate to apply liquid eyeliner transforming the eyes into an Egyptian type diamond shape. Eye shadows of every shade were used, but light baby blue was a staple color of eyeshadow in the 1980s. Streaks of bright blush were carefully applied in streaks from the corner of the lip to the ear, carefully avoiding the hollow of the cheek. Shiny lipstick was then applied to finalize the look.

Gag Me With A Spoon

In general, the 1980s was a fun decade where everything was new, clean, bright, and excessive. There was no line that could be crossed. Want to learn more about the 1980s? Play this 80s trivia game!

Available for Amazon Prime