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Top 10 Popular 80’s Fashion Trends

Top 10 Popular 80’s Fashion Trends -A Journey Through Bold Styles

In the neon-lit streets of 1980s, where music thumped from ghetto blasters and hair went sky-high, there was a vibrant and diverse world of fashion.

It was within this fashion revolution that teenagers expressed themselves through their clothes like rebels with a cause. It was an era of excessiveness, where the bigger the better and louder meant cooler.

The iconic trends that still echo today were at the forefront of this fashion delirium. Imagine: with shoulder pads so wide you could land an airplane on them coupled with power suits that screamed authority and confidence. Miniskirts and leg warmers emphasized women’s styles; they wore clothes with vivid patterns and bright colors that seemed to defy gravity.

Meanwhile, men in the 80s had a more natural look characterized by jagged jeans and leather coats – all expressions of rebellion. The gravity-defying styles teased into hair as it flew up suddenly made mullets famous.

But it wasn’t only about what we wore but how we carried ourselves. In particular, the 80s epitomized rebellion and individualism: people displayed love openly on their sleeves as well as personalities on their lapels. Clothes spoke volumes while accessories struck conversations during that era.

And thus when 1980s came to an end, it marked the changing course in fashion culture forever. Their effects persist even after these fashions have passed reminding us that clothing does not define people but rather people define themselves through clothing.

The 1980s were characterized by four main trends which became the expression of the character of the period through clothing. Four prevailing themes are as follows:

Bold and Bright

It was such a time when neon colors, loud prints and statement jewelry ruled. It was a moment when subtlety gave way to opulence. The streets shone with fluorescent colors while every outfit was an opportunity to say something. From cobalt blazers to shocking pink tights, individuals fully embraced the audacity that came along with it during this era, daring differentiation against a backdrop of color.


Big is Beautiful

Bigger was always better for hair, shoulder pads, and silhouettes. This decade was really known for going overboard. Women teased their hair as high up as possible creating towering hairstyles that defied gravity. Blazers and dresses were adorned with shoulder pads which made wearers feel powerful and confident about themselves whereas in terms of silhouettes “the more fabric, the better” seemed to be the order of fashion ideas whereby loose sleeves and oversized tops dominated fashion.

Comfort and Casual

Sportswear became daywear as well as sneakers became everyday wear shoes during those ages because comfortability was a key in 80s style while casual clothes were gradually accepted everywhere. Street style gave birth to tracksuits and windbreakers meanwhile sneakers replaced heels for many people becoming their favorite shoes on various occasions. This period marked closer relationship between fashion and function as people found ease in sporting athletic inspired clothes.


Express Yourself

From punk rock rebellion to preppy chic there were styles designed for every personality type. The 80s were all about self-expression where fashion became an identity marker. While punk rockers showed dissatisfaction against conformity using torn jeans, leather jackets or safety pins; on the other hand preppy dressing celebrated pastels polos shirts boat shoes etcetera. These days’ people still stick to their unique styles, on the streets and at fashion shows.

It was in this way that in the 1980s, an interweaving of these four patterns into a tapestry of originality, audacity and uniqueness continued to inspire and shape fashionable clothes up to now.

Key Clothing Items:

Move into the time capsule and move back to the colorful 1980s fashion trends world where everything was vibrant. From acid washed jeans to big, chunky jewelry pieces, these staples were everything in that iconic age.


“Leggings: Because we believed in exercising fashionably during the 1980s! As quoted by Jane Fonda, ‘No pain no gain… but a little neon spandex never hurt anybody!’ Thus leggings became an aerobics craze essential, matched perfectly with inclusive sweaters or tunics. They were not just for gymnasium purposes; we wore them to showcase our commitment and style while keeping fit. The reason why leggings represented the ‘80’s was because of their elasticized materials and their flashy colors which made them noticeable from far among other people. Nevertheless, they were only costumes; by contrast they constituted a way of life that only persons who wished to be distinguished from others could wear with pride. In conclusion, even if the aerobic craze disappeared away, leggings still remain one of our beloved wardrobe staples that testify about how much influence 80’s fashion had.”



“Denim: “You can never have enough denim”- this is a popular saying. Denim in 1980s was not just fabric but it became part of our lives as well. From acid wash jeans to ripped jeans, jean jackets and vests we embraced all these styles with open arms. It was like an emblem of rebellion and distinction; due to this fact we did not want to behave according to any established rules and norms. It is versatile, timeless and effortlessly cool worn by punks and preppies alike. Language may be insufficient when it comes to expressing one’s true self therefore denim shaped fashions in the eighties and even beyond that period in history. Beyond attire, it stood as a serious message indicating how great our independence spirit that defied regulations was.”


Shoulder pads:

“Shoulder pads: “The bigger the better!” This is what we said back then in 1980s and nothing proved it more than our obsession with shoulder pads. In Joan Collins words, she said “I am a woman of substance. I wear shoulder pads.” And we wore them! Shoulder pads were the ultimate power move in suits, dresses or blazers. They gave us confidence, presence and a silhouette that commanded attention. Through shoulder pads, one could equally dominate both the dance floor and the boardroom. They stood for strength as well as femininity which marked an assertive 80s woman. However, although this trend gradually died out shoulder pads’ influence is still felt reminding us that sometimes more can be better.”


Printed shirts:

“Go bold or go home!” That was the catch-phrase of the ’80s and nowhere was it more evident than in our love for printed shirts. Printed shirts let us show who we were without any words, from strong polygons to eye-catching designs. As Cyndi Lauper once sang, “Girls just wanna have fun”, and what’s a better way than having a shirt that shouts your character? Printed shirts represented more than simple outfits; they acted as a platform where we could depict our vibrant and diverse taste. In neon tiger print or geometric masterpieces, we spoke through clothes which made every outfit count in case anyone was in doubt that in the 80’s, bigger and brighter were always best.



“Life is a dance so why not dress for it?” This was our code of conduct back then in the eighties, leotards were what defined us. As Olivia Newton-John said famously, “Let’s get physical”, and nothing would be more appropriate to be physical with other than a smooth trendy leotard? Whether accompanied by leg warmers during work out sessions or skirts at night outs, leotards epitomized versatility and fashion. They enabled us to feel comfortable with our own bodies even as we embraced both curves plus athleticism wholeheartedly. The tight fitting features of these garments together with their stretchy nature made them an empowering figure reminding us that fitness during eighties wasn’t just about fashion but life itself.



“Romance isn’t dead just wearing lace!” Lace was more than just fabric during the eighties; it became symbolic with romance & femininity. Like Madonna sings on ‘Like A Virgin’ [1984], “Like a virgin touched for the very first time” how about bringing alive innocence & youthful allure by putting on delicate lace blouse/dress? Lace could elevate any attire from plain pieces into works of art adding a touch of grace and class. Worn as a blouse, dress or even lingerie, lace helped us embrace our feminine side with dignity and flair. Therefore, lace was more than just a trend; it is timeless and beautiful forever.”


“Every girl deserves her Cinderella moment!” In the ‘80s taffeta played fairy godmother to us all. I may not be a queen in people’s hearts, but I quote Princess Diana saying, I don’t see myself being queen of this country.” Each girl could feel like royalty for just one evening with taffeta. Taffeta was luxurious and kept for prom dresses, evening gowns and formal skirts. It had a crunch and slight luster that screamed wealth and grandness thus making it suitable for special events. We lived out our wildest fantasies with taffeta twirling and waltzing in elegance and grace.


Leather Jackets:

“Leather jackets: ‘Born to be wild!’ During the 80s, leather jackets were not just clothes; they were a lifestyle. As Bruce Springsteen once sang aloud that “Born To Run,” which better way of running than in a sleek, trendy leather jacket? Leather jackets symbolized rebellion and stylish coolness, loved by ladies and gentlemen wanting to show off their attitude. They had an aura of strength and hardness about them that added a hint of aggression to any attire. Those who wore leather jackets could either dress them down with jeans or throw them over cocktail dresses for a night out; everyone would still agree that these were ultimate fashion accessories. One phrase says it all – one can reach out and touch every corner of the world even while walking in the street clad in skin garments.”


Tracksuits and Sweatshirts:

‘Do not suffer in silence as you can always get into a tracksuit or sweatshirt!’ In the ‘80s, comfort was the main concern and this was so apparent through our passion for tracksuits and sweatshirts. “When one wears a tracksuit it becomes very easy to penetrate some of these restaurants” (Bill Murray). Commonly used as casual wear, tracksuits and sweatshirts were both trendy and comfortable. Athleisure outfits exemplified by athletes and fashion conscious persons took the shape of these. Fits that are loose fitting with sporty themes made tracksuits and sweatshirts ideal for people who want to embrace laid-back lifestyles effortlessly; proving that looking good didn’t necessarily involve sacrificing comfort back then in 1980s.


Punk Fashion:

“Punk fashion: ‘Anarchy in the wardrobe!”’ An era when nonconformity took over from uniformity in matters of dressing. The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go? asked a question whose answer punk fashion has solved beyond any reasonable doubt: go, definitely! Punk fashion challenged mainstream fashion by ripping clothes apart, using safety pins for personal adornment, wearing band t-shirts, leather jackets with studs or spikes on them, mohawks or completely shaven heads among others. It was about rejecting societal norms while embracing individuality. From street corners to underground rock shows, punk fashion became an emblem of rebellion against established conventions.”

Take a step back to the vibrant ‘80s fashion trends, where every attire was an announcement and each accessory was a daring declaration of personality. The ’80s were all about breaking through fashion boundaries, from large accessories like jewelry to bright leg warmers in pushing the limits of self-expression. Here are some iconic accessories that defined the era.


Statement Jewelry:

Statement jewelry reigned supreme in the glittering world of 80s fashion trends. Instead of being mere accessories, chunky necklaces, earrings, bracelets and bangles declared one’s individuality and flamboyance in a bold manner. Oversized gems; metallic accents; statement jewelry added glamour as well as drama to all outfits creating head-turners that stole attention wherever they went.


Leg Warmers:

Oh! Leg warmers! These multicolored knitted socks were not meant just for heating up; they became fashion must-haves which added color and attitude to any outfit. Whether worn with leggings, skirts or even shorts, they captured the fun-loving and eccentric nature of the 80’s clothing style making each step feel like dancing and every dress seem stylishly done.


Fanny Packs:

Fanny packs: ultimate hands-free bag for those living it up in the 1980s! Worn around your waist these practical yet fashionable bags made carrying your essentials easy while on move. From fanny packs made for day trips to those fit for music festivals, these items were always there whenever one wanted convenient but fashionable options.



Headbands weren’t only used when you wanted to keep hair in place but also carried their own fashion message. Be it when going out or hitting a gym headbands added style accents to any look. From sporty ones to those embellished with different things they rounded up any ‘80s dress with colors popping out while retro elements suggesting themselves barely.


Shorter Shorts:

In this period shorter shorts reigned supreme because they captured the spirit of that time with a sense of style and attitude. These were the must have fashion items, hence working on summer tans or playing basketball while sweating was usually done in shorter shorts. They stood for 80’s boldness and self-confidence with their free movement and sexiness.

Oh the eighties, a decade of timelessness, attitude and endless discovery. Subcultures flourished, and each had its own distinct fashion image. Now let us recollect some of the most legendary subculture styles of that time:



The preppy look of the 1980s was marked by perfect polo shirts, neat chinos, pastel-colored loafers among others. It was about cleanliness in design, tailored cuts and confidence which is sophisticated yet simple.


Punk Rock:

In the 80s punk rock wore leather jackets, torn clothes, band t-shirts and huge accessories. This was a protest against societal norms; a loud voice for personal identity as well as non-conformity against all expectations.


Glam Metal:

Glam metal embodied decadence, rebellion and anarchy of rock music. Hairspray, bold colorings, and leathers flares were its key features. It celebrated all things that were noisy, vibrant and outright brave.

Each subculture style in the 1980s contributed their own taste to fashion landscape which left indelible marks on iconic aesthetics of that era.

Finally, the 1980s fashion trends and world was a vibrant fabric of bold colors, brave styles, and being yourself with no apologies. The eighties were an era of experimentation and innovation that turned every outfit into a statement as well as every accompanying item into individuality symbolized. Every subculture style such as punk rock, preppy and glam metal had its own way to follow giving us the glimpse of how versatile and varied it was at that period. The 1980s saw diversity in all aspects such as fashion whether one had on him or her clean cut clothes associated with peppiness or went for glamorous outfits of glam metal some others adored. When we reminisce about this decade which may be termed ‘iconic,’ its significance cannot be overemphasized since it captured the spirit of the age through apparel by managing to represent what people believed in most during that period through unconventional means.


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