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We’ve taken a trip back in time (in the DeLorean) to 1985. Take it all in. Prince Harry is born, Michael Jordan is cementing himself as a sporting god, and Gorbachev is the leader of the Soviet Union. 1985 was a history-making year in many facets from politics to human issues to music. 

The Live Aid charity concerts are played in London and Philadelphia to raise funds for those in need in Ethiopia. Queen played their iconic show, with Freddie Mercury showing the depths of his incredible talent. 

1985 was a stellar year for films, with still-favorite classics ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘The Goonies’, and ‘Back to the Future’ released. All three of these films are still on high rotation on movie channels and in the homes of many buffs. 

However, we’re in a fashion frame of mind here, as usual, so let’s find the best fashion looks and moments that defined 1985!


Whitney Houston’s metallic dress, bow, and ultra-80s makeup in the ‘How will I know’ video 

Whitney Houston (RIP) was one of the world’s greatest vocalists ever. She brightened up the 1980s with her voice and vibrancy, perfectly demonstrated in the ‘How will I know’ video. The video is a perfect example of 1980s pop fun, color, “more-is-more”, detail-heavy style. She wears: 

  • A tight, metallic charcoal cocktail dress with matching sleeves 
  • A matching metallic scarf nestled in her stunning curls
  • Metallic pink lipstick with purple and pink eyeshadow  

Note the 1980s-style jazz dancers in turtlenecks, pearls, and tights!

Block colors and layered knits on the cover of ‘Teen’ Magazine 

The August 1985 cover of “Teen” magazine is a snapshot of 1980s preppy female fashion. While the cover isn’t a big moment in itself, it’s certainly a record of big fashion in the mid-80s. We see a blast of color and tonal contrast, with baggy-meets-tight silhouettes. These bright young things wear: 

  • Pink spandex tights with an oversized blue sweater
  • A striped knit dress with cowl neck and layered with a pink knit letterman cardigan
  • Shiny black lace-up brogues with rolled-up socks peeking over the top 
  • Fluffy, feathered blonde hair 

Molly Ringwald’s disheveled princess look in ‘The Breakfast Club’

The ‘Breakfast Club’ is a classic 80s movie by the teen movie hero John Hughes, starring the 1980s teen sweetie Molly Ringwald. Her main costume in the film would fit right in here in 2020. The style is feminine and subtle, yet has a touch of bohemian ease: 

  • Pale pink linen-style v-neck tee rolled above the elbow
  • Brown midi-skirt and layered brown leather belt
  • Knee-high brown leather boots
  • Pearl earrings 

Prince’s sparkling purple hood and black lace gloves at the Academy awards

Prince was one of the greatest musicians of all time, and his style was just as excellent. Prince was known for his regal purple attire, and his look at the 1985 Academy Awards (he won Best Original Song Score) is a perfect example. The look was dramatic, glamorous, mysterious, and oh-so 80s: 

  • A sparkling purple cape with draped hood and tassel sleeves
  • Matching embellished purple trousers
  • Black bodysuit
  • Black lace gloves
  • Chunky gold choker necklaces
  • Gold hoop earrings 

Note: see the legend here, and note Kathleen Turner’s very 80s sparkling gold-orange shoulder pad concoction at the start! 

Madonna’s floral pants and layered jewelry at Live Aid

Madonna took the stage at Live Aid 1985 (iconic charity concert to raise money for the Ethiopian famine) in Philadelphia. Her look represented a large chunk of 1980s youth style, with eclectic layers, interesting textures, and abundant accessorizing. This look reminds us a lot of Molly Ringwald’s character Andie from ‘Pretty in Pink’. 

  • Seafoam green satin coat with shoulder pads 
  • White lace top
  • Floral pants
  • White socks with black court shoes 
  • Layered necklaces, bracelets, and earrings 
  • A bouncy bob and red lips 

Tina Turner’s black leather mini and fishnets at Live Aid Philadelphia 

Let’s check out another Live Aid performance from Philadelphia. This time, Tina Turner during her set with Mick Jagger. The legendary Tina looks equal parts rock chick, punk goddess, pop icon, and red-hot woman. She wears: 

  • Black leather mini
  • Black bustier-style leather top
  • Black fishnets 
  • Black heels
  • Iconic feathered hair and red lips

Note: check out Mick’s pink pants, purple tee, pout, and iconic Jagger dance moves. 


1984: Bruce Springsteen and Ghostbusters

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

1982: Grace Jones and Jane Fonda’s Leg Warmers

1981: Dynasty Fashion and Princess Diana’s Wedding Dress

1980s: Wide collars and Metallic cutout dress

Belted blouses, capri pants, and bright colors on ‘227’

The American sitcom ‘227’ ran from 1985 to 1990, starring Marla Gibbs, Hal Williams, and Regina King. Check out 46.40 of this clip (oh, the vintage commercials!), Regina King wears an outfit so joyfully 80s:

  • Bright pink blouse with shoulder pads
  • Rolled-up sleeves 
  • Blue waist belt
  • Aqua-blue capri pants
  • Barrel-rolled fringe and half-up-half-down bobbed hair 

LL Cool J’s bucket hat, puffer jacket, pastel hoodie, and layered necklaces 

In 1985, LL Cool J released his first album, ‘Radio’, making hip-hop history. LL did his first (televised) interview in 1985 and the fashion is a time capsule of 80s hip-hop style. 

  • A grey bucket hat 
  • Pale blue hoodie
  • Black puffer jacket
  • Layered chain necklaces
  • Little gold stud earrings 

Note: listen to LL’s story of how he broke into the industry, it’s pretty inspiring. 

Jamie-Lee Curtis’s high-cut spandex activewear in ‘Perfect’

In 1985, Jamie-Lee Curtis starred in ‘Perfect’, a film by James Bridges that wowed the world with JLC’s lithe body in a plethora of 80s activewear outfits. Check out this montage scene from the film, (your head will explode from the saturated 80s imagery and music!). Jamie and her workout followers wore: 

  • Shiny spandex leotards with high-cut sides
  • Shimmery nude tights
  • Slouchy leg warmers
  • Elastic waist belts
  • High necklines
  • Matching sports bra and high-cut panty sets
  • Horizontal pink stripes (our favorite)

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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