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We’re nearing the end of the 80s, finding ourselves smack bang in 1988, looking ahead to the 90s (oh, what will the future bring?). ‘Rain Man’ is cleaning up at the Oscars, and family shows are adding to the nightly TV schedule. 

‘Roseanne’, ‘The Wonder Years’, and ‘Murphy Brown’ are making their debuts, and glam rockers are kicking out the jams. Munch some popcorn while watching uber-hits ‘Die Hard’, ‘Big’, and ‘Coming to America’ at the cinema.  

Fashion didn’t let us down in 1988, with some real winners (arguably) strolling the red carpets and across the screens. Get ready for sparkles, velvet, animal print, acid-wash, chains, and plenty of leather.

Here are our favorite fashion moments of 1988! 


Daryl Hannah’s sparkly midi dress, gloves, slingbacks, and platinum blonde at the Academy Awards

At the 1988 Academy Awards, Daryl Hannah showed up looking all kinds of old-Hollywood glamorous. Her platinum blonde waves were reminiscent of 1940s Veronica Lake, with red lips like Marilyn. Her look certainly had the OTT glitz and glam of the 1980s, but it had a more refined silhouette that would become more popular in the 1990s. 

  • All-over beaded gold cocktail midi-dress  
  • Fitted all over the body, with a zig-zag neckline and spaghetti straps
  • Pale stockings and silver slingback heels
  • Over-the-elbow white satin gloves 
  • Retro sunglasses

Kirstie Alley in red velvet at the 1988 Emmy Awards

Over on the Emmy Awards red carpet, Kirstie Alley brought a look that was far more typical of what we associate with 1980s glamour. If red velvet and metallic details are your jam, this is your dream retro fashion reference: 

  • Turtleneck, long-sleeved gown in bright red velvet
  • Metallic orange-gold ruffles at the hips
  • A red clutch and cigarette in hand 
  • Gold earrings
  • Red lips
  • Shoulder-length blonde hair quaffed at the front 

Jackee Harry’s purple animal print and asymmetrical ruffle hem at the Emmy Awards

Jackee Harry (from ‘227’ and ‘Sister, Sister’) wore a dress to the 1988 Emmys that was so 80s even the 80s was taken aback, and it freakin’ rocked. The dress sums up much of the cocktail-wear styling of the decade, with a sense of fun, drama, showbiz, and all-out glamour: 

  • Black and purple animal print
  • Ruched tulle black Bardot neckline and shoulder straps
  • Asymmetrical high-low black ruffle hemline
  • Black heels
  • Black dangly earrings and a black clutch 

Jackee Harry animal print & matching Earrings

As we can see from the photo below Jackee Harry loves her animal print and matching earrings. Oh and don’t forget red lipstick so 80s!

Bon Jovi’s leather fringes, acid-wash denim, bare chests, and fluffy hair in the ‘Bad Medicine’ video

Bon Jovi were glam-metal rock gods in the 1980s, with fluffy long hair flying all over the place and plenty of bare-midriff gyrating (yum?). In their video for ‘Bad Medicine’ (you know the one) we see everything we need to see when it comes to the Bon Jovi look: 

  • Raggedy denim jeans 
  • Leather pants
  • Barely-there tank tops
  • Leather chaps over blue jeans
  • Cowboy boots
  • Leather jackets with wide lapels
  • Sleeveless denim jackets over bare torsos 
  • Once again…fluffy mullets!

Note: timestamp 1:08 on the video to see a full-body shot of the gang in all their glory. Also, check out the groupies and photographers! We see slouchy boots, shirt dresses, crop tops, mini skirts, Bardot tops, over-the-knee tights, and plenty of lithe limbs and bare bellies. 

NWA’s basketball caps, gold chains, blazers, and crew neck sweaters 

NWA brought gangsta rap to the world in a major way. Their most iconic hit ‘Straight Outta Compton’ spoke of police brutality against black people in America (tragically topical in 2020). In this interview regarding the track, NWA wear understated yet definitive 80s hip-hop outfits:  

  • Plain white t-shirts 
  • Black baseball caps
  • Chunky chain necklaces
  • Black crew neck tees with black blazers
  • White lace-ups 

Note: listen to the lyrics of the song and what the guys speak about in the interview (police brutality of black people in Compton). This was 32 years ago, let that sink in here in 2020. 

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

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

Joan Jett’s studded black leather, tight pants, feathered mullets, and smokey eyes in the ‘I hate myself for loving you’ video 

Joan Jett (from The Blackhearts) was a badass rocker in the 80s, and her style matched her tough skills on the guitar. The ‘I hate myself for loving you’ video perfectly sums up the Joan Jett punk-rock style: 

  • Tight black spandex pants
  • Studded black leather boots
  • Black spandex tank
  • Layered silver necklaces and bracelets 
  • Feathered black mullet
  • Heavy, kohl-lined eyes 
  • Black leather jacket with a fitted waist and wide shoulders

Note her bandmates’ groovy get-ups including a particularly fabulous green suede jacket with fringe.  

Prince, Sheila E., and Cat Glover on the LoveSexy tour in 1988 

In 1988, Prince embarked on his LoveSexy tour with percussionist and singer Sheila E. and choreographer Cat Glover. This tour was not only music heaven, but it produced some of the coolest fashion of the decade (you can check out the whole show here). We spy: 

  • A black and white polka-dot suit and tie 
  • Miniskirt and bra sets with over-the-knee socks
  • Flouncy blouses with waistcoats, short shorts, and over-the-knee boots
  • Red corset-style tops and over-the-elbow gloves
  • An iconic cropped white blouse with ruffles and hoop earrings

Note: check out Sheila E. killing it on the drums with white gloves and corset top here

George Michael’s iconic ensemble during the ‘Faith’ tour

George Michael (as a solo artist and with Wham!) had hit after hit in the 80s, such as ‘Careless Whisper’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Club Tropicana’, ‘Last Christmas’ and ‘Wake me up before you gogo’. His fashion moments were 80s treasures, such as neon short-shorts and tiny white speedos. During his ‘Faith’ tour, George Michael wore the outfit we most associate with him: 

  • Black leather jacket with popped collar
  • Solo gold cross earring
  • Swept-back hair 
  • Leather jacket or black blazer
  • White tank
  • Black leather fingerless gloves 

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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