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It’s 1984. The Apple Macintosh computer goes on sale, miners are striking in England and L.A swarms with the Olympics. Band Aid is founded and ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ jangles across the world. Pop down to the cinema to catch the release of ‘Ghostbusters’, ‘The Karate Kid’, ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ and ‘The Terminator’, all still considered treasured classics today. 

Before we settle down for a 1984 movie and music night (complete with preppy clothes from an Esprit catalog), let’s explore the best fashion moments from 1984. 


Paulina Porizkova in plunging pink on the cover of ‘Sports Illustrated’

Swimwear in the 1980s involved high-cut bottoms, neon, metallic, bandeaus, plunging necklines, animal print, and tanned bodies. In February 1984, Paulina Porizkova appeared on the cover of ‘Sports Illustrated’ perfectly sporting a few of these: 

  • An extremely plunging neckline, all the way to the navel
  • A low back and high-cut bottoms 
  • A bright, almost-neon shade of pink
  • A surprisingly non-80s straight hairstyle and bangs 

Madonna’s controversial and edgy bridal dress in ‘Like a Virgin’ at the VMAs

Madonna was a megastar in the 80s, and her 1984 hit ‘Live a Virgin’ was a huge contributor. The song demonstrated her edgy, controversial nature as she took a bad-girl approach to the good bride. At the MTV VMAs she danced on a big white cake in a now-iconic costume: 

  • A bra-style lace bustier wedding dress 
  • White lace gloves
  • Layered necklaces
  • A white veil (that she tossed aside to reveal curly, unruly hair)
  • Sweet white heels 

Courtney Cox in Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ video 

You know Courtney Cox as Monica Gellar from ‘Friends’, but did you know she appeared at the end of a Bruce Springsteen music video? Wee Courtney danced on stage with The Boss in the ‘Dancing in the Dark’ video in a very understated outfit consisting of: 

  • Blue jeans
  • A cut-off Bruce Springsteen tee
  • White sneakers 
  • A short haircut 
  • EPIC 80s dance moves with Bruce (why does no-one do that ‘wiggle and bop’ anymore?)

Sigourney Weaver’s metallic orange off-shoulder dress in ‘Ghostbusters’

‘Ghostbusters’ is a comedy treasure, (with its very own modern remake) and was released in 1984. While you may not consider it a fashion-iconic movie, take a look at Sigourney Weaver in that metallic orange dress and change your mind. 

  • A draped, shimmery, orange-gold midi dress
  • Asymmetrical hemline and soft pleats
  • Off-shoulder top with blousy batwing sleeves
  • Cinched waist with contrast-tone fabric tie belt 
  • A bouncy perm and carved cheekbones 

Michael Jackson’s solo white glove and embellished military jacket at the Grammys

We can’t cover 1984 without talking about Michael Jackson’s iconic white glove and sparkly military jacket at the Grammys. This was peak MJ, with the dark sunglasses and glossy curls falling over his forehead. The look consisted of: 

  • A navy and gold military jacket covered in glittering diamantes 
  • Gold rope epaulets and trim
  • A solo white diamante-covered glove 
  • Black trousers with shine-finish side trim
  • Diamante-embellished white socks and black slides 

Cyndi Lauper’s boots, layered skirts, and blue eyeshadow on the cover of ‘Rolling Stone’

Cyndi Lauper was a bright fashion light in the 1980s, showing a generation of youths how to layer, clash, and take a “more is more” approach. She was known for piles of colored beads, neon clothes pegs as accessories, and choppy, multi-colored locks. Her Rolling Stones cover is a perfect example of her loud and rebellious style, complete with the open-mouth action shot. She wears: 

  • A blue corset-style dress with black waist belt
  • Layered underskirts in contrasting shades of yellow and green
  • Shimmering silver stockings
  • Grunge-style green lace-up boots
  • Layered bracelets and mismatched earrings
  • Metallic brown lipstick and multi-colored eyeshadow 


1985: Madonna’s Floral Pants and Prince

1986: Preppy-Sport Style and Baggy Denim

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

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

1989: Nirvana Plaid and The Loveshack Video

White linen, tan suede, and hats in Ralph Lauren’s 1984 Safari collection 

Ralph Lauren was the king of preppy, equestrian, beige-y fashion in the 1980s (and the polo in the 90s). The ‘Safari’ collection demonstrates the wealthy-woman-on-vacation vibe, complete with: 

  • White and cream suits worn with straw hats and diamonds
  • Puff-shoulder blouses with brown lace-up boots and white trousers
  • Roomy khaki trousers and short-sleeved linen shirts (complete with lion cub)
  • Brown suede skirts and coats, with brown knee-high boots and riding trousers

The Thompson Twins’ fingerless gloves, baggy blazers, and neon details live in Japan 

New wave group ‘The Thompson Twins’ (“hold me now…ooohh warm my heart”, you know the one?) performed in Japan in 1984. Their fashion was a picture of quintessential 80s new-wave style, similar to that of Boy George, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, and New Order (the latter were a little tamer). The video is a little blurry but check out these: 

  • Baggy suit jackets 
  • Fingerless gloves
  • Floppy mullets 
  • Neon sunglasses
  • Whimsical wizard’s hat
  • Dark lipstick
  • Neon satin fabrics hanging from black hats 
  • Neon gloves and matching neon shoulder pads 
  • Classic bouncy 80s dance moves 

Silver wigs and dangly earrings in Vogue 

Vogue covers are a great way to get a feel for the makeup, jewelry, and color of the time. During the early-mid 1980s, the Vogue cover style was a facial close-up with plenty of accessories in the frame (they were also predominantly white models, no people of color to be seen, a fact we must acknowledge). On the December 1984 cover of Vogue, the model wore a silver tinsel wig and diamond chandelier earrings. This playful, space-age, party-centric look was in keeping with the fun and frivolity of 80s pop fashion. 

About The Author

May is totally crazy about the 80s and everything the decade inspired! Having grown up in a household that was totally taken over by 80s music and fashion its only natural that May lives and breathes the 80s!

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