1980s in Western fashion

Among women large hair-dos and puffed-up styles typified the decade.[1] (Justine Bateman, 1987).
The short, tight spandex mini skirts were a popular fashion item for young women in the second half of the 1980s

1980s fashion in Britain, America, Europe and Australia had heavy emphasis on expensive clothes and fashion accessories. Apparel tended to be very bright and vivid in appearance. Women expressed an image of wealth and success through shiny costume jewelry, such as large faux-gold earrings, pearl necklaces, and clothing covered with sequins and diamonds. Punk fashion began as a reaction against both the hippie movement of the past decades and the materialist values of the current decade.[2] The first half of the decade was relatively tame in comparison to the second half, which is when the iconic 1980s color scheme had come into popularity.

Hair in the 1980s was typically big, curly, bouffant and heavily styled.[3] Television shows such as Dynasty helped popularize the high volume bouffant and glamorous image associated with it.[4][5] Women from the 1980s wore bright, heavy makeup. Everyday fashion in the '80s consisted of light-colored lips, dark and thick eyelashes, and pink or red rouge (otherwise known as blush).[6][7]

Some of the top fashion models of the 1980s were Brooke Shields, Christie Brinkley, Joan Severance, Kim Alexis, Carol Alt, Yasmin Le Bon, Renée Simonsen, Kelly Emberg, Ines de la Fressange, Tatjana Patitz, Elle Macpherson, and Paulina Porizkova.

Women's Fashion

Early 1980s (1980–82)


Young woman in 1980 wearing a low-cut spaghetti strap dress.

Aerobics Craze

Professional Fashion

Mid 1980s (1983–86)

A young woman from the mid 1980s wearing a denim mini skirt with two thin belts.

Bright colors

Power Dressing

President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, are seen with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

New Romantic

Young Englishman wearing a pirate shirt

Late 1980s (1987–89)

Consumer-Friendly Fashions

Asian fashion

Men's Fashion

Early 1980s (1980–82)

Athletic Clothing

New wave influence

Preppy Look

David Byrne wearing a preppy style seersucker blazer and white oxford shirt, 1986.

Mid 1980s (1983–86)

Miami Vice/Magnum P.I. Look and Michael Jackson's Influence

Power Dressing

1940s inspired pinstripe suit with large shoulder pads and double breasted fastening. These "power suits" were fashionable in Britain from the early 1980s until the late 1990s.

Tropical clothing

Mobutu wearing safari jacket, 1983.

Late 1980s (1987–89)

Doc Martens

Parachute pants

Main article: Parachute pants

Parachute pants are a style of trousers characterized by the use of ripstop nylon or extremely baggy cuts. In the original tight-fitting, extraneously zippered style of the late 1970s and early 1980s, "parachute" referred to the pants' synthetic nylon material. In the later 1980s, "parachute" may have referred to the extreme bagginess of the pant. These are also referred to as "Hammer" pants, due to rapper MC Hammer's signature style. Hammer pants differ from the parachute pants of the 1970s and early 1980s. They are typically worn as menswear and are often brightly colored. Parachute pants became a fad in US culture in the 1980s as part of an increased cultural appropriation of breakdancing.[49]

Unisex Accessories


Subcultures of the 1980s

English singer Siouxsie Sioux in 1986 wearing black clothing, back-combed hair, and heavy black eyeliner. She was an inspiration for the gothic fashion trend that started in the early 1980s.

Heavy Metal

Main article: Heavy Metal fashion


Wendy Wu, lead singer of the British new-wave band The Photos, in 1980.
Main article: Punk fashion


Main article: Neo-Rockabilly

Rude Boys and Skinheads

British skinheads in 1981



Rap and hip-hop

Main article: Hip-hop fashion



Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins in 1986.

The sideburns of the 1960s and 1970s saw a massive decline in fashion in the late 1970s. Big and eccentric hair styles were popularized by film and music stars, in particular among teenagers. These hairstyles became iconic during the 1980s. Although straight hair was the norm at the beginning of the decade, as many late 1970s styles were still relevant, the perm had come into fashion by 1980.

This was largely due to many movies released at the time, as well as a rebellious movement against the 1970s. There was generally an excessive amount of mousse used in styling an individual's hair, which resulted in the popular, shiny look and greater volume. Some mousse even contained glitter. Hairsprays such as AquaNet were also used in excess by people such as hard rock band Poison. The mullet existed in several different styles, all characterized by hair short on the sides and long in the back.

Mullets were popular in suburban and rural areas among working class men. This contrasted with a conservative look favored by business professionals, with neatly groomed short hair for men and sleek, straight hair for women.

Trends in men's facial hair included the designer stubble.

Image gallery

See also


  1. Browne, Ray B.; Browne, Pat (15 June 2001). The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Popular Press. pp. 357–. ISBN 978-0-87972-821-2. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  2. Lauraine Leblanc. Pretty in Punk: Girls' Gender Resistance in a Boys' Subculture. Rutgers University Press, 1999. P. 52
  3. "Return of the perm: Big hair leads the Eighties' comeback". London: Daily Mail. 2 March 2008. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  4. Brubaker, Ken (9 October 2003). Monster Trucks. MotorBooks International. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-7603-1544-6. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  5. Welters, Linda; Cunningham, Patricia A. (20 May 2005). Twentieth-Century American Fashion. Berg. pp. 223, 337. ISBN 978-1-84520-073-2. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  6. Bateman, Antony; Benyahia, Sarah Casey Casey; Mortimer, Claire (23 May 2012). AS Media Studies: The Essential Introduction for WJEC. Routledge. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-415-61334-7. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  7. Steinberg, Shirley R.; Kehler, Michael; Cornish, Lindsay (17 June 2010). Boy Culture: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-313-35080-1. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
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  26. 1 2 Fashion-Era.com
  27. Mao Suits
  28. Why the Mao suit endures
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  30. Modernity that is cladded on
  31. Chinese 70s fashion
  32. New fashion school in India, 1989
  33. Indian fashion's greatest hits Archived August 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
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  39. 1 2 3 4 Fashion and style. "The rehabilitation of the power suit". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
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  42. 1970s abacost
  43. Congo sapeur fashion
  44. Les sapeurs
  45. Dandies of Brazzaville
  46. Brown, DeSoto; Linda Arthur (2002). The Art of the Aloha Shirt. Island Heritage Publishing. ISBN 0-89610-406-0. Page 79
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  48. History of Miami
  49. Mansour, David. "Parachute pants". From Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century. p. 353. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
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  57. Black punks in France
  58. Chasing skinheads with the black dragons
  59. American subcultures
  60. Ska Oral history
  61. Ska music of liberation
  62. Casual dress essential
  63. Emotional hooliganism
  64. Patches checks and violence, page 15
  65. The Scotsman
  66. Football casuals
  67. Burberry vs Chavs
  68. Daily Telegraph
  69. Stasi used to spy on skaters
  70. American music
  71. Totally 80s Jams
  72. Fashion fads through America
  73. Decline of skater fashion
  74. Vintage T-shirts
  75. Peterson, Amy T., and Ann T. Kellogg (2008). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Through American History 1900 to the Present: 1900–1949. ABC-CLIO. p. 285. ISBN 9780313043345
  76. Preppy look


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