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1987 was a significant year for pop culture, that’s for sure. ‘Full House’, ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’, ‘French and Saunders’, and ‘21 Jump Street’ all debuted on the small screen. Cue the loving sighs as Johnny Depp becomes a heartthrob! 

The cinemas are fluttering with hit movies ‘Dirty Dancing’, ‘The Princess Bride’, ‘Robocop’, and ‘Fatal Attraction’. Meanwhile, the radios are blasting Whitney Houston’s ‘I wanna dance with somebody’, U2’s ‘With or without you’, and Rick Astley’s ‘Never gonna give you up’. 

As far as fashion goes, the red carpets, award shows, and music videos are serving pure 80s saturation, but with a little 90s foreshadowing sneaking in. Here are our favourite fashion moments and trends from 1987…


Jennifer Grey’s red off-shoulder dress at the ‘Dirty Dancing’ premiere

At the ‘Dirty Dancing’ premiere, lead actress Jennifer Grey wore a dress that straddles the late 80s and the early 90s. The off-shoulder style and wide waist belt? Total 80s. The clean silhouette and lack of sparkles? 90s. The perm? Oh, 80s all the way.

  • A bright red off-the-shoulder ¾ sleeve midi dress
  • Wide black waist belt (a nod to the 60s setting of ‘Dirty Dancing?’)
  • Bouncy perm and red lips 

Janet Jackson’s black leather and jeans at the 1987 Grammy awards

Janet Jackson is one of the best dancers and pop performers of the 80s, 90s, and all time. She performed at the 1987 Grammy Awards (check out the video for the BEST 80s-meets-Fosse choreography) in a timelessly-cool black get-up: 

  • Cropped black leather jacket with puffy shoulders
  • Fitted black jeans 
  • Silver-buckled belt
  • Pointy-toed, stiletto-heeled shoes
  • Dangly earrings
  • Big, bouncy curls 

Leather, top hats, and bandanas in the ‘Sweet child o’ mine’ video by Guns n’ Roses

The 80s were filled with fluffy-haired glam rockers such as Guns n’ Roses, Bon Jovi, and Poison. One of the biggest rock hits was ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ by Guns n’ Roses, (still belted out at karaoke bars today). The video is a perfect time capsule of the glam rock look, including: 

  • Bandanas tied around the forehead
  • Long, luscious locks (perfect for thrashing around)
  • CBGBs tank tops
  • Bare midriffs
  • Tight leather pants
  • Studded belts
  • Extravagant top hats
  • Leather and denim jackets with fluttering fringes 

Bodycon dresses in Whitney Houston’s ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ video

Whitney Houston’s ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ is quite possibly the best pop song of the 1980s, especially if you love to get your groove on. The video is a bright, joyful example of 1980s music video extravagance. We’ve got colored backdrops, jazz dancers, and the beautiful Whitney in a series of fitted cocktail dresses: 

  • The tank-style lilac dress
  • The red one-sleeve bodycon dress
  • The striped two-piece with long sleeves and bare midriff
  • The high-neck black bodycon dress 
  • Bonus look: white tank, blue jeans, and black leather jacket 

Note: Whitney’s makeup in this video is a great reference if you’re looking for 80s party inspiration. Green on the lid, peach in the crease, plenty of blush, and shimmery peach lipstick. 

Mullets, pastel sweaters, and leather jackets in the pilot episode of ‘Full House’

Family sitcom ‘Full House’ premiered in 1987, with John Stamos (Uncle Jesse) busting out some fabulous 1980s fashion. The rocker uncle showed up with his black guitar and rather insane black mullet. His look consisted of:

  • Black leather jacket
  • Tight black pants
  • Pale blue polo-neck long-sleeved top
  • Black belt with silver buckle

Note DJ Tanner’s pale pink and white shirt with western-style tassels, black mini, and pale nude stockings. Precious. 

Raquel Welch’s LBD and wide belt at the 1987 Emmy awards 

The little black dress has been a fashion concept since the 1920s and has gone through many phases. At the 1987 Emmy awards, Raquel Welch wore her own version of the LBD, with a core 1980s aesthetic. Her dress was similar to Jennifer Grey’s red off-shoulder dress mentioned earlier. This highly versatile look featured: 

  • A wide Bardot neckline (off the shoulders)
  • ¾ sleeves slightly rolled up
  • Pencil silhouette, just skimming the knees
  • Wide, satin-finish waist belt with a large buckle
  • Short, feathery hair and dangling earrings with blinding jewels 


1986: Preppy-Sport Style and Baggy Denim

1985: Madonna’s Floral Pants and Prince

1984: Bruce Springsteen and Ghostbusters

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

1982: Grace Jones and Jane Fonda’s Leg Warmers

Plastic jewelry, shirts with belts, slacks, and more mullets in ‘Married with Children’ 

Katey Sagal starred as Peggy Bundy on ‘Married with Children’, the sitcom that also shoved Christina Applegate into the spotlight. Peggy Bundy’s style has been recreated over and over, defined by animal print, tight capri pants, huge hair, and heeled slides. Our favourite Peggy staples from the pilot episode in 1987 are: 

  • Plastic hoop earrings and layered plastic beads 
  • Pastel blouse 
  • Waist-cinching belt 
  • Diamante brooch
  • Fitted, ankle-grazing trousers 
  • Almost-mullets with feathered roots 

Ripped jeans with sweaters and blazers on ‘21 Jump Street’ 

‘21 Jump Street’ debuted in 1987, about an impossibly good-looking group of cops who infiltrate high schools to uncover crime and abuse. Johnny Depp (Officer Thomas Hanson) starred, and his broody eyes, floppy hair, and sharp jawline stole hearts in a big way. The ‘21 Jump Street’ Johnny Depp style can be summarized as: 

  • Loose-fit blue jeans, sometimes with ripped knees
  • Black lace-up boots
  • Turtle or crew neck sweaters worn with black blazers
  • Leather jackets
  • Shiny locks falling over the face 

Shoulder pads and round gold clip-on earrings on ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’

Ever watched a true 80s-90s soap opera? Now’s your chance. Check out this clip of a ‘Bold and the Beautiful’ episode from 1987, complete with a stage slap (note the dramatic music and completely OTT acting!). This is a great example of 1980s accessorising and silhouettes: 

  • Big gold clip-on earrings in chunky shapes
  • High, collarless necklines
  • Shoulder pads
  • Contrast trim on hemlines and pockets 

Spandex bodysuits, flat boots, oversized jackets, and chunky chains in Salt n’ Pepa’s ‘Push It’ video

Salt n’ Pepa were one of the most popular hip-hop duos of the 80s, with their hit single ‘Push It’ evoking an entire generation to get up and dance (80s style). The iconic Salt n’ Pepa fashion as worn in the ‘Push It’ video includes: 

  • Full black spandex bodysuits
  • Flat boots with a slight slouch
  • Thick gold chain necklaces
  • Red, yellow, and white bomber-style jackets 
  • Band members and back-up singers wearing turtlenecks with blazers, chains, and dark sunglasses

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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