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Mastering Fashion 80s Style: Tips and Tricks

Key Highlights of Mastering Fashion 80s Style

  • 80s fashion was bold, fearless, and unforgettable, with trends like shoulder pads, neon colours, leg warmers, acid wash jeans, leather jackets, oversized tops, mini skirts, statement accessories, high-top sneakers, and sequins.

  • Celebrities like Princess Diana, Madonna, Grace, Brooke Shields, Jane Fonda, and Joan Jett were style icons of the decade.

  • Incorporating 80s fashion trends into modern wardrobes can be achieved by mixing vintage and contemporary pieces.

A woman in 80s attire with shoulder pads and neon colors, exuding confidence in a retro-st

1980s Fashion Introduction

The 1980s marked a significant era in the fashion industry, characterised by flamboyant and dramatic styles that epitomized the ethos of "more is more." This period saw a departure from minimalism as bold trends took centre stage. From the iconic shoulder pads to the vibrant neon hues, 80s fashion left an indelible mark on the world of design and continues to serve as a wellspring of inspiration for contemporary designers and fashion aficionados alike.

The sartorial landscape of 80s fashion was a tapestry woven with diverse influences, encompassing an array of subcultures and aesthetics. Punk, new romanticism, athleisure, glam-rock, and other movements coexisted harmoniously, fostering an environment where individuality and self-expression thrived. The decade embraced eclecticism, allowing for a myriad of styles to flourish and make bold statements.

Renowned style icons such as Princess Diana, Madonna, Grace Jones, Kylie Minogue, Brooke Shields, Jane Fonda, and Joan Jett played pivotal roles in shaping and defining the fashion narrative of the era. Their fearless experimentation with trends and avant-garde choices not only captivated audiences then but also continue to resonate with contemporary fashion sensibilities. Their enduring influence underscores the timeless appeal of 80s fashion and its lasting impact on the industry.

a 1980s girl group in authentic 1980s ou

The Ultimate Guide to 80s Style Fashion

The 80s style fashion era was truly iconic and has had a lasting impact on the fashion industry. Characterised by bold statements and vibrant colours, the trends from this decade are still influential today. One of the most notable trends was the use of shoulder pads, which added a powerful and structured silhouette to outfits. Neon colours also dominated the scene, bringing an electrifying energy to clothing choices.

Moreover, oversized tops paired with tight bottoms created a unique juxtaposition that became a signature look of the 80s. Denim was another staple of this era, with acid wash and distressed styles gaining popularity. Accessories played a crucial role as well, with big earrings, chunky bracelets, and statement belts completing many outfits.

The 80s were all about pushing boundaries and embracing individuality in fashion. Today, designers continue to draw inspiration from this period, reimagining its trends for modern tastes. The spirit of experimentation and self-expression that defined 80s fashion continues to resonate with style enthusiasts around the world.

A glamorous 1980s woman wearing a black

1. Embracing the Power of Shoulder Pads

The return of shoulder pads in the fashion scene evokes nostalgia from the '80s era and introduces a daring and commanding style. Incorporating shoulder pads into your ensembles can enhance your appearance by creating a structured silhouette and expressing a bold fashion statement. Whether integrated into jackets or tops, adopting this trend can revolutionise your attire into a sophisticated homage to the iconic '80s aesthetic. Shoulder pads offer versatility for both formal and casual outfits, establishing them as an essential addition to any trendsetting wardrobe.

Additionally, the comeback of shoulder pads signifies a broader trend of fashion revival, where past styles are reimagined and reintroduced into contemporary designs. By embracing retro elements like shoulder pads, individuals can showcase their appreciation for vintage fashion while infusing it with modern flair. This resurgence highlights the cyclical nature of fashion trends and the enduring appeal of timeless styles that continue to captivate audiences across generations. Not sure how to introduce shoulder padding into your current wardrobe? Ideally we would all like to add a few pieces from Yves Saint Laurent or Vivienne Westwood to our collection but that may not be the most realistic option! Checking out shoulder pad looks on inspiring fashion apps such as Instagram and Pinterest can be a great way to find ways this style can work for you and your vibe.

2. The Magic of Neon Colours and Bold Prints

Step back in time and relive the bold and vibrant 80s fashion era by incorporating neon hues and striking patterns into your wardrobe. Neon colours like electric greens and fluorescent pinks were the epitome of daring style during this period, making a strong statement wherever they went. To fully embrace this trend, consider pairing these eye-catching shades with geometric shapes or abstract designs for a look that is both edgy and playful.

By infusing your outfits with the magic of neon colours and bold prints, you can add a touch of nostalgia to your modern style. Let your clothing do the talking as you flaunt your daring side with confidence and panache. Whether you opt for head-to-toe neon or subtle pops of colour, incorporating these lively elements into your everyday looks is sure to turn heads and make a lasting impression.

3. Leg Warmers and Leggings: A Dance-Inspired Trend

Leg warmers, a trend that gained popularity in the United States during the 1980s, were initially inspired by the dance industry. They were commonly worn with leggings or tights to create a unique and funky style. What began as a functional accessory for dancers to keep their legs warm during rehearsals soon transitioned into a fashion statement embraced by individuals outside the dance community. The addition of leg warmers not only brought a playful element to outfits but also provided practical warmth during both workout sessions and everyday activities.

This trend embodied the merging of athleticism and fashion, representing the dynamic and lively lifestyle of that era. Even today, leg warmers serve as a nostalgic reminder of the vibrant spirit of the 1980s, showcasing how fashion trends can transcend their origins and become timeless symbols of an era marked by creativity and self-expression.

A row of legs in 80s style chunky leg wa

4. Acid Wash Jeans: A Wardrobe Revolution

Acid wash jeans emerged as a denim revolution, becoming a quintessential staple of fashion 80s style. This rebellious and edgy style brought a fresh vibe to denim, thanks to its unique washing technique that resulted in a faded, marbled effect. Acid wash jeans were often paired with oversized tops or leather jackets, embodying a carefree and rock-inspired aesthetic that aligned perfectly with the bold fashion statements of that era.

5. Leather Jackets and the Punk Influence

Leather jackets have transcended their status as mere outerwear to become symbols of the rebellious spirit that defined the 80s, deeply rooted in punk culture. Renowned icons like Joan Jett and Debbie Harry played a significant role in popularising leather jackets, injecting a gritty edge into the fashion landscape. The do-it-yourself (DIY) ethos of punk seamlessly complemented the rugged appearance of leather, culminating in a raw and unapologetic style that resonated with those seeking to challenge norms.

These iconic jackets evolved into emblems of rebellion and non-conformity, embodying themes of empowerment and defiance during an era characterised by bold expressions and boundary-pushing attitudes. Incorporating a leather jacket into your wardrobe effortlessly adds a nostalgic touch of punk rock vibes to any outfit, serving as a timeless reminder of an era marked by individuality and self-expression.

6. Oversized Tops and Sweaters: Princess Diana Inspo

Oversized tops and sweaters were iconic staples of the 80s, embodying a blend of casual comfort and chic style. This trend was notably embraced by celebrities such as Princess Diana and Brooke Shields, who helped propel its popularity by showcasing its versatility. The relaxed fit of these oversized garments, when paired with leggings or slim-fitting jeans, created a harmonious silhouette that exuded an air of effortless sophistication.


In recent years, this classic 80s trend has made a notable comeback, gracing both high-fashion runways and everyday street style looks. Embracing this retro trend in your wardrobe not only adds a touch of nostalgia but also allows you to infuse it with a modern twist to create a fashion statement that is both timeless and on-trend.

80s Princess Diana Oversize Sweater _edi

7. The Iconic Mini Skirts and Skater Dresses

The 1980s saw the rise of iconic fashion staples in the form of mini skirts and skater dresses. Mini skirts, famously worn by celebrities like Madonna and Princess Diana, symbolised a mix of edginess and femininity that captured the essence of the era's bold fashion statements. On the other hand, skater dresses, favoured by personalities such as Brooke Shields and Jane Fonda, radiated a playful and youthful charm that resonated with the dynamic trends of the time. These garments not only reflected the spirit of 80s fashion but also left a lasting impact, continuing to influence contemporary style trends embraced by fashion enthusiasts today.

8. Statement Accessories: Large Earrings and Bangles

The 80s era was all about bold fashion choices and statement accessories played a significant role in defining the extravagant style of that time. Emulating the iconic looks of celebrities like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, you can unleash your inner diva by incorporating large earrings and chunky bangles into your fashion 80s style. These accessories were not just adornments but expressions of attitude and glamour.

Chunky bangles were another essential accessory that encapsulated the spirit of excess in 80ss fashion. Layering multiple bangles on your wrists can instantly elevate your look and bring a touch of drama to your outfit. Choose bright hues or metallic finishes to channel the opulence and extravagance that defined fashion 80s style.

a woman in the 80s wearing bold earrings, necklace and bracelet.jpg

Layering Techniques for an 80 s Fashion Vibe

The 80s were all about layering. The key to achieving an authentic 80s style is to layer different pieces together to create a visually interesting and dynamic look. One popular layering technique was to pair a polo shirt with a sportswear jacket or blazer. This combination added a touch of sophistication and preppy style to an otherwise casual outfit. Another layering option was to mix and match different textures and patterns. For example, you could layer a denim jacket over a graphic t-shirt and finish the look with a plaid skirt or trousers. Don't be afraid to experiment with different combinations and have fun with your layers. The goal is to create a unique and eye-catching ensemble that captures the essence of eighties style.

Iconic 80ss Fashion Icons and Their Influence Today

80s Madonna in her famous cone bra outfit
David Bowie in the 80s
Cyndi Lauper in the 1980s
  • Madonna: The Queen of Pop’s Fashion Legacy

Madonna's impact on 80 s fashion goes beyond music. Her bold style choices made her a fashion icon, popularising lace in tops, gloves, and stockings. Her innovative outfits like cone-shaped bras and stage costumes set trends and inspired artists. Madonna used fashion for self-expression and empowerment, leaving a lasting impact on the industry as the Queen of Pop and attaining that coveted spot on the cover of Vogue.

  • David Bowie: The Master of Reinvention

David Bowie's fashion influence goes beyond music, establishing him as a style pioneer. Known for reinventing himself, his impact on fashion is undeniable. From Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke, his personas were bold statements that challenged norms.

Bowie's fearless style may have started in England but inspires artists and designers around the world today, seen in performers like Billy Porter and luxury brands like Gucci. His gender-fluid aesthetic and avant-garde outfits have reshaped the industry.

  • Cyndi Lauper: Bold Colours and Unique Styles

Cyndi Lauper's impact on 80s style goes beyond bold colours and unique fashion sense. She influenced the fashion scene with vibrant hair colours, eclectic outfits, and an individualistic approach to self-expression. Mixing patterns, textures, and accessories, she created a distinctive style inspiring artists today.

Frequently Asked Questions on 80s Fashion

How Can I Dress Eighties Style Without Looking Outdated?

To rock an 80s style without looking outdated, blend era elements with modern fashion. Pair neon colours and bold prints with current silhouettes. Draw inspiration from 80s fashion icons, merging classic aesthetics with today's trends for a fresh retro look that stays relevant.

Accessorising plays a crucial role in achieving an authentic 80s look without going overboard. Incorporating statement jewellery pieces like chunky earrings or bold necklaces, along with retro-inspired sunglasses or belts, can elevate your ensemble while maintaining a contemporary appeal. Additionally, experimenting with different textures such as leather, denim, pearls and sequins can add depth and personality to your outfits, reflecting the eclectic spirit of 80 s fashion.

For makeup and hair styling, choose bold options that blend era essence with modern trends. Go for bright eyeshadows, graphic eyeliners, and voluminous hairdos for a retro yet contemporary look. Balance these elements to embody 80s fashion vibrancy without appearing outdated or theatrical.

What defined the hair and makeup trends of the 80s?

The 80s were characterised by boldness and experimentation in hair and makeup trends, featuring big back-combed hair and vibrant makeup looks with blue eyeshadow and bright lipstick shades. Influential figures such as Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and David Bowie made a significant impact with their fearless styles, reflecting a spirit of individuality and creativity during this expressive period in fashion and beauty. Women embraced unique looks, pushing boundaries and making statements without hesitation in the dynamic 80s era.

What should I wear to an 80s party?

Embrace the vibrant and nostalgic fashion 80s style trend at your next party. Incorporate iconic elements like shoulder pads, neon colours, leg warmers, acid wash jeans, leather jackets, oversized tops, mini skirts, statement accessories, high-top sneakers, an oversized blazer or sequins for an authentic look. Mix vintage pieces with modern flair to create a unique ensemble that pays homage to 80s fashion history. Experiment with combinations and have fun expressing your individuality through your outfit!

a lively party in the 1980s full of fashionable quirky 80s men and women.jpg

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