Looking back at the culture, art, glamour, and fashion trends of past decades is our favorite pastime. For we visual creatures, fashion is a great way to piece together the past and get a sense of what life in the clubs, on the streets, and in the workplace was like (for a certain lucky few). 

Let’s start with the year 1980. Yup, fresh off the 70s. 

I can tell you now, (white) skin is very tanned, hair is feathered or long and wavy, dresses are metallic and slinky, and makeup is shiny and glossy. 

Here are our favorite fashion trends and moments of the year 1980. 

P.S the bullet points are there to paint a picture of our favorite 1980 looks, but they’re also a quick-fire guide for putting together the look yourself. 

Pussybow blouses and high-waisted pencil skirts in ‘9 to 5’

Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda are the superstars of 1980 comedy flick ‘9 to 5’. If you’ve never seen the movie, you’ve surely heard the theme song (“workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’”). The fashion in the movie is delicious, as are the permed, helmet-like hair styles. Our favorite pieces are:   

  • Blouses and sweaters with high necklines and pussybows 
  • Fit-and-flare dresses with cinched, belted waists
  • High-waisted flared skirts worn with blouson shirts 
  • Sheer, shimmery tights 

Windswept hair and bronzed skin in ‘Blue Lagoon’

While ‘Blue Lagoon’ is an odd movie (seriously, watch it), it sure has some excellent beauty. A young Brooke Shields flits about a desert island in torn cotton threads, falling in love with the equally disheveled Christopher Atkins. While the movie is a trip, we’re inspired by the overall beauty aesthetic: 

  • Bronzed skin 
  • Minimal makeup and strong brows (we expect no less from brow-beauty Brooke)
  • Long, windswept hair straggling over the shoulders and swishing around the face 

Wide collars and pale suits at the ‘Blue Lagoon’ premiere

We’re not done with ‘Blue Lagoon’. This time, we’re at the premiere. Wow. It’s so clear that this movie was released very close to the 70s, and a great example of 70s-into-80s transition. Why? 

  • Christopher Atkins’ blue shirt with a pointed collar, top buttons undone, and satin suit 
  • Do we spy a 90s foreshadowing? Check out Christopher’s beaded necklace 
  • Brooke Shield’s ultra-glossy lips, kohl-lined eyes, and sunkissed skin 

Sally Field’s Feathered hair and sequins at the 1980 Academy Awards 

Sally Field at the 1980s Academy Awards is 100% amazing, but her look is also refreshingly casual. In fact, I swear I wore a similar outfit a decade ago in my university years. We love: 

  • The midi-length white pencil dress with a shallow neckline
  • That vintage-style sheer blouse with floral sequins, tied at the waist
  • The bouncy, feathered hair flicking outward at the face
  • The shimmery lips, glowing cheeks, and smudgy dark eyes 

Sequins, velvet, and high-shine beauty in Olivia Newton John’s ‘Magic’ video

Deep breaths for this one. Check out this video for Olivia Newton John’s song ‘Magic’, it’s spectacular. Legend Olivia shows us how to rock velvet, sparkles, all-black, and a solo dangly earring. We’re seeing shades of the 80s to come. Put it all together like Olivia:

  • A wide-shouldered mini dress in black velvet with silver sequin and diamante fringe
  • Cinch the waist with a black leather belt
  • Polish off with opaque black tights and dangly diamante earrings (or just one)
  • Put away the liquid matte lip and go for pale pink gloss and a bronzed cheek 

Kate Bush’s Black Lycra in the ‘Babooshka’ video 

Kate Bush is a creative, eccentric goddess, with her most well-known song being ‘Wuthering Heights’ (excellent). However, her 1984 video for her song ‘Babooshka’ is our inspiration today. The two looks in this video are sure signs of trends to come (in the 80s), with feathery hair, sharp makeup, spandex, animal print, metallics, and saturated accessorizing. She rocks: 

  • A full lycra bodysuit with a deep V-neckline
  • An animal print tie belt 
  • Sheer black veil 
  • Striped hotpants 
  • Metallic headdress, feathers, and a sword 
  • The look is whimsical warrior goddess meets 1980s aerobics queen 

Read

1981: Dynasty Fashion and Princess Diana’s Wedding Dress

1982: Grace Jones and Jane Fonda’s Leg Warmers

1983: Culture Club’s New Wave style and Annie Lennox

1984: Bruce Springsteen and Ghostbusters

1985: Madonna’s Floral Pants and Prince

Jerry Hall’s Metallic cutout dress 

Jerry Hall was the it-girl of the 1970s and Mick Jagger’s lady from the late 70s to the late 90s. She’s a tall, willowy goddess who could wear a halter dress like no other and dazzled the d-floor at Studio 74. 

Check out this hazy footage of Jerry Hall and others walking in the Antony Price show in London in 1980, oh the glamour! Jerry was snapped wearing a nude sequin fitted bandeau dress with white clam shells on the chest, with a diamond choker and a disheveled Mick Jagger. JH wore so many phenomenal looks in the early 80s, such as a particularly delicious and very wearable midi dress she wore out with Mick: 

  • A plunging, crossover V-neckline
  • Cutout at the navel
  • Cinched waist and flared a-line skirt
  • Long, wavy locks and signature red glossy lip 

Catherine Bach’s teeny, tiny shorts and tank in ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’

Iconic US show ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ was in full swing by 1980, and so was Catherine Bach in her unforgettable ‘Daisy Dukes’. Catherine Bach as Daisy Duke often wore plaid shirts tied at the waist, with blue denim shorts, (a look still beloved and often worn today, but slightly less skimpy). However, it’s this look that truly made us swoon:  

  • Tight pink hot pants with a thin cream belt (swap for a mini or midi skirt?)
  • White tank with floral detail 
  • Shimmery, sheer stockings 
  • Peep-toe slide heels (swap for slick sneakers or ankle boots?)

Lauren Hutton’s drop waist and gold at the Academy Awards 

The gorgeous Lauren Hutton has worn some of the most beautiful Oscars dresses, (check out that incredible pastel Halston gown in 1975!). At the 1980 Academy Awards, she went glitzy with metallic gold: 

  • A mini-length cocktail dress ending mid-thigh
  • ¾ sleeves and a high-scoop neckline
  • Dropped waist, knotted at the hip 
  • Sheer black stockings and simple black heels 
  • Sharp cheekbone contouring, glossy red lips, bronzed skin, and a simple blonde bob

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