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Madonna was amongst the most iconic women of the eighties. The pop diva pushed the boundaries with her clothing, her music, and her controversial live shows. She served so many unique, eclectic, exciting looks that were emulated by people all over the globe then and now. 

We have selected Madonna’s most iconic show costumes and pap-snapped fashion looks of the 1980s, with tips for making them yours in 2020!

  1. The Bridal White Lace Corset and Tulle Skirt from ‘Like a Virgin’

At the 1984 MTV VMA’s, Madonna showed up wearing a white lace corset-bustier, tulle skirt with handkerchief hem and hearts, white lace fingerless gloves, and white court shoes. She accessorized the outfit with her signature layered chain necklaces and a “boy toy” belt. This is known as her “Like a Virgin” look, which was tantalizingly controversial as she was a highly sexualized pop star (for the time!). 

Make it yours: make a tongue-in-cheek play on bridal-wear by pairing a white silk slip dress with edgy leather ankle boots and lace fingerless gloves. 

  1. The Jean Paul Gaultier AMA’s black lace corset dress and leggings 

At the 1985 AMA’s, Madonna wore a black corset dress by Jean Paul Gaultier, paired with 80s-centric footless tights. This look solidified the quintessential Madonna look, with messy hair, red lips, layered rosary bead necklaces and crosses, wrists full of bracelets, and fingerless gloves. 


Make it yours: wear a cropped black bustier top with wide-leg pants and layered chain necklaces. Match Madonna’s beauty look with tousled hair, red lips, natural skin, and bushy brows. 

  1. The Cone bra (disclaimer: 1990 but we’re sneaking it in!)

The Blonde Ambition World Tour featured one of Madonna’s most iconic looks, the pale pink satin Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra one-piece. Madonna’s super-toned body was on show with a belted, cinched waist and thin straps. Her hair was platinum blonde with corkscrew curls, with red lips and defined eyes. The look was tough-yet-feminine, controlled-yet-free, and the perfect example of underwear-as-outerwear

Make it yours: pair a pale-pink satin camisole or bodysuit with tight black ripped jeans for an ultra pared-down take on the look. 

  1. The “Madonna” Album cover: cross earrings and rubber accessories

Madonna’s first album ‘Madonna’ was released in 1983 and the cover was like a 1980s Madonna style guide in one photo. An off-the-shoulder black top, multiple rubber bracelets, large cross earrings, messy featured hair, frosted eyes with black liner, and a bold lip. 

Make it yours: pick one wrist to layer with bracelets while keeping the other bare. Pair a black off-shoulder sweater with blue jeans, and wear a bold lip color with black-lined eyes. 

  1. The pink dress from ‘Material Girl’ 

The 1984 music video for Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ saw Madge in a match-for-match remake of Marilyn Monroe’s costume from ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’. The iconic pink floor-length dress was belted at the waist and paired with matching pink gloves. Madonna’s wrists, neck, and ears were dripping in sparkling diamonds, but she kept her 80s “Madonna-ness” with slightly messy, fluffy hair and red lips.

Make it yours: find a pink satin midi-dress and belt with a contrasting-tone belt at the waist. Wear with a diamante choker, red lips, and heeled booties. 

  1. The ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ Black lace, bows, and baggy pants 

The advertising promo shoot for Madonna’s 1985 movie ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ is a resource of peak 80s Madonna style. She wore a black lace bustier top, baggy trousers, a black belt, and a boxy metallic jacket. The layered necklaces and rosary beads were out in full force, as were the white lace gloves, messy hair, red lips, and a scarf tied in a bow on the head. 

Make it yours: pair wide-leg, high-waisted trousers with a black bustier-style bodysuit or tank. A long, narrow-cut blazer with satin lapels brings the look into 2020. 

  1. The Black Mesh Tank and Pink Hair 

One of Madonna’s most costume-ready looks featured a black lace tank top over a lace bra, and pink hair teased up into a messy, wild, slightly-mohawked do. She wore layered rubber and chain bracelets, a cross necklace, and multiple earrings. This look also characterizes Madge’s classic 80s makeup look consisting of red lips and dark eyeshadow all the way up to an unkempt brow. 

Make it yours: create a personalized party outfit with a mesh tank worn under high-waisted jeans, with a pink wig (or wash-out dye), red lips, and messy eyeshadow. 

  1. The Silver Gown from the ‘Who’s That Girl’ Premiere

At the premiere of the 1987 film ‘Who’s that girl’ in New York, Madonna took things in a new direction with a form-fitting silver dress with all-over beading. The fancy midi-length dress featured a zig-zag neckline, spaghetti straps, and a slightly high-low hemline. The midi-dress had a cinched waist and skimmed the hips. The look showed Madonna’s glam side and had a touch of vintage with her platinum blonde Marilyn-style hair and red lip. A grand departure from the usual messy-chic fashion and layered cross necklaces. 

Make it yours: pair a beaded silver pencil midi-skirt with a worn-in graphic tee and red lips. 

  1. The Frayed Double-Denim, Lace Leggings, and Bowler Hat 

There’s a really stunning, iconic image of Madonna sitting in a cross-legged meditation pose wearing double denim. Her baggy jeans are rolled at the hem, with ultra-frayed rips at the knee, with a cut-off sleeveless denim jacket with frayed edges. She wears lace stockings under her jeans and a black bowler hat. 

A similar look features the same jeans and lace tights, but with a blue denim jacket, pink bow in the hair, pearl choker, a trio of belts, and layered black studded bracelets. These looks summed-up much of the streetwear styling of the 80s favored by both Madonna and the mainstream fashion customer. 

Make it yours: look for a blue denim jumpsuit or overalls with frayed edges, and layer with a white tank. Wear a black beret or bowler hat and a wrist full of miss-matched bracelets and bangles. 

  1. Seafoam green layers at 1985 Live Aid 

At the 1985 Live Aid concert, Madonna performed in a very New Romantic-inspired outfit. She layered a seafoam green waistcoat, a satin Baroque-style seafoam coat, white lace top, and floral cropped trousers. She wore black French Neoclassical-style shoes with 80s-centric white socks (very Michael Jackson!), layered necklaces, big gold earrings, and her classic red lip. 

Make it yours: explore Amazon for a long, satin brocade coat and layer it with a white shirt or lace crop and floral jeans or trousers. 


1989: Nirvana Plaid and The Loveshack Video

1988: Bon Jovi and Joan Jett’s studded black leather…

1987: Jennifer’s Red Off-Shoulder Dress and Spandex Bodysuits…

1986: Preppy-Sport Style and Baggy Denim

1985: Madonna’s Floral Pants and Prince

About The Author

May can usually be found reading a magazine and that will be more than likely a fashion or environmental magazine. When not absorbed in the latest gripping articles on fashion or eco living, May is a fashion writer who is passionate about two things fashion (especially 80s) and the environment. May believes in looking and feeling good whilst living an eco friendly lifestyle. In her spare time she loves cooking, playing her guitar and going for country walks. May lives in the UK and enjoys spending time with friends, family and her two adorable cats.

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