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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.
Madonna has been a music icon for decades. Her meteoric rise to stardom began in the 1980s, when her debut self-titled album was released. It was throughout this era that she made a name for herself.
But her early success wasn’t simply a result of her hit pop songs, it was also achieved through her bold fashion choices.
We have selected Madonna’s most iconic show costumes and pap-snapped fashion looks of the 1980s, with tips for making them yours!
- 1. The Bridal White Lace Corset and Tulle Skirt from ‘Like a Virgin’
- 2. Madonna’s Black Bodysuit and Fishnets on the 1987 Who’s That Girl Tour
- 3. Madonna’s Pleated High Waisted Pants and Cropped Blazer in Desperately Seeking Susan
- 4. The Jean Paul Gaultier AMA’s black lace corset dress and leggings
- 5. The Cone bra (disclaimer: 1990 but we’re sneaking it in!)
- 6. The “Madonna” Album cover: cross earrings and rubber accessories
- 7. Madonna’s Pink Satin Evening Gown in the “Material Girl” Music Video
- 8. Madonna’s Suspenders and Skipper Cap in “The Lollipop Session” Photo Shoot of 1983
- 9. The Black Mesh Tank and Pink Hair
- 10. The Silver Gown from the ‘Who’s That Girl’ Premiere
- 11. The Frayed Double-Denim, Lace Leggings, and Bowler Hat
- 12. Seafoam green layers at 1985 Live Aid
1. The Bridal White Lace Corset and Tulle Skirt from ‘Like a Virgin’
In the 1980s, Madonna could mostly be found wearing black. But in 1985, through the release of her “Like A Virgin” music video, she single handedly brought bridal wear into the mainstream.
In the now-iconic music video, and in subsequent live performances of the song, Madonna was almost always seen wearing her signature all-white “wedding dress” look.
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!).
This outfit featured a midi length white tulle skirt, a lacy white corset, elbow-length lace gloves, long pearl necklaces, and of course, a necklace with a cross pendant.
There are so many layers to this outfit, but what we love most about it is the overtly feminine nature of it. Between the pearls, ballerina-esque tulle, and lace bodice, there are so many aspects of this all-white outfit that are back in style today.
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.
From her all-white bridal chic ensemble in “Like A Virgin” to her black bodysuit and fishnets on the Who’s That Girl tour, check out this list of Madonna’s most iconic 80s outfits.
2. Madonna’s Black Bodysuit and Fishnets on the 1987 Who’s That Girl Tour
It was during a performance on her Who’s That Girl world tour in 1987 that Madonna donned what would become one of her most iconic looks of all time. The pop singer came out on stage wearing nothing but a black corset bodysuit, fishnet stockings, and heeled black boots.
Needless to say, the crowd went wild. This ensemble inspired the artist’s look for many decades to come, but it was in the 80s that it originated.
To replicate this edgy ensemble, all you’ll need is a black corset or bodysuit (tassels optional), a pair of black fishnet tights, and black booties.
3. Madonna’s Pleated High Waisted Pants and Cropped Blazer in Desperately Seeking Susan
You knew Madge acted too, right? In addition to her legendary music career, Madonna has taken on multiple acting roles on the side. Her first role was in the 1985 dramedy Desperately Seeking Susan. She starred opposite Rosanna Arquette in this flick and in it, she rocked one of her best 80s outfits.
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.
The look consisted of a pair of pleated black high waisted pants, black sneakers, a black lace corset, 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.
High waisted pants have been back in for a while now, but it’s only recently that 80s pleated pants are having a resurgence.
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 in to today!
Madonna’s Desperately Seeking Susan look combines both of these trends into one and then takes it a step further by pairing them with a sexy lace bustier and edgy blazer.
Complete the look with long layered necklaces and a bow headband.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Madonna’s Pink Satin Evening Gown in the “Material Girl” Music Video
Material Girl” may have been the song that launched Madonna into superstardom, but part of the song’s success was definitely the music video.
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 hot pink strapless gown 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.
Strapless has been one of the most popular necklines, with completely sleeveless tops and dresses popping up in stores all over the world.
In addition to the neckline, there is an oversized statement bow affixed to the back of the dress, which relates more trends within the world of high fashion (statement backs on dresses and bows).
Achieve the Material Girl look by accessorizing your hot pink gown with matching elbow-length gloves, a chandelier necklace, a red lip, and plenty of diamond or rhinestone bracelets.
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.
8. Madonna’s Suspenders and Skipper Cap in “The Lollipop Session” Photo Shoot of 1983
In 1983, Madonna was photographed in what would become one of the most famous photo shoots of her career. The photographer behind the camera was Deborah Feingold and the subject was none other than a 25 year old Madonna.
For the shoot, Madonna wore a plain white t-shirt underneath black pants held up by suspenders and a black skipper cap. Skipper caps have only recently started trending thanks to celebs like Bella Hadid who have been spotted wearing them all over town.
Jumpers with suspender-like straps have also made a comeback, proving that Madonna always has been and always will be the queen of 80s style.
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 modern times!
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.