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Join us for a 1980s dance fashion party! 

We’ve explored the number-one hits and top songs of the 1980s to find the very best fashion in rock, pop, and hip-hop from ‘80 to ‘89. 

Throw on your slouchy boots, sequin blouses, headbands, fingerless gloves, kohl liner, and mix yourself a blue lagoon. 


1. Michael Jackson, ‘Rock with you’, 1980

The style: the sparkliest, all-over embellished outfit you ever did see (this was disco, after all). Black and silver striped tight pants, slouchy silver boots, and a striped long-sleeved top. The effect is chandelier-meets-jar-of-sequins, and we love it. 

2. Diana Ross, ‘Upside Down’ 1980

The style: a slinky white gown with thin straps, cinched and gathered waist, ultra-high front split, and an elegant train. At the start of the clip, Diana wears a draped white jacket with wide shoulders and all-over sparkling embellishments.  

3. Dolly Parton, ‘9 to 5’, 1981

The style: country-style dark blue jeans, a red blouse, and frosty lilac eyeshadow. In the movie ‘9 to 5’, Dolly wears fit-and-flare shirt dresses with t-shirt sleeves and cinched waists, with her signature platinum curly hair.

4. Blondie (Debbie Harry), “Rapture” 1981

The style: a black embellished bandeau top with black short-shorts and a blonde (of course!) bob. A wash of purple eyeshadow and nude lips. Debbie swishes a black lace shawl over her arms and slinks into the club with a black leather coat over her shoulder at the end of the clip

5. Olivia Newton-John, ‘Physical’ 1982

The style: a white sweatband among blonde locks, an aqua sleeveless tee, tied at the waist, and a white, high-cut leotard. Berry-toned spandex tights and blue leg warmers. Check out the video, it’s truly something (and rather strong on the fat-shaming, to be honest). 

6. The Human League, “Don’t you want me”1982

The style: a stone-colored trench coat, a full fur coat, and plenty of popped collars. The makeup is peak 80s, with glossy red lips, pale matte foundation, heavily-kohled eyes (the guys and girls), and sharply-contoured cheeks.

7. Irene Cara, “Flashdance…What a Feeling” 1983

The style: from the ‘Flashdance’ movie, this song is synonymous with grey sweaters with frayed edges and slouchy shoulders, leg warmers, leotards, and baggy jeans with white tank tops. Extra points if you can recreate that iconic audition choreography. 

8. Bonnie Tyler, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” 1983

The style: a white wrap gown with long, blousy sleeves, and a draped, crossover top. A high split at the front and wide, 80s shoulder pads. The hair is the 80s in a nutshell: a blonde, fluffy, mullet. Smokey eyes with a boat-load of black kohl, and terracotta-brown lipstick. Oh, and plenty of smoke and wind machines. 

9. Culture Club, “Karma Chameleon” 1984

The style: a top hat over screeds of pom-poms and colored braids in long hair. Red lips, angular brows, and yellow eyeshadow. Fingerless gloves, a puffy long-line shirt, waistcoat, cropped pants, black lace-ups, and a plethora of details the eye takes a moment to register. 

10. Run DMC, “Sucker MC’s” 1984

The style:  black leather suits with black sweaters and bowler hats. Beanies, striped sweatpants, matching sweatsuits, chunky chains, bucket hats, baseball caps, and basketball singlets worn over hoodies. 

11. Cyndi Lauper, “Time after time” 1984

The style: a dyed red feathery mullet with side shave, blue eyeshadow, red lips, and thin brows. A sparkling multi-hue flared skirt with an oversized blue jacket, ruffle shirt, and bowler hat. Further in the video, we see layered, mismatched earrings, a tartan hat, matching tartan trousers, and scarf. 

12. Madonna, “Like a Virgin” 1984

The style: an acid-green, neon lace top, black pants, studded belt, and layered necklaces. A cropped and cutout black tank dress, purple spandex leggings, studded belt, rosary beads, and silver crosses. A meringue-style white wedding gown with lace, puffy sleeves, and layers of pearls. 

13. Starship, “We built this city” 1985

The style: a white shirt with sleeves rolled above the elbows, with black slacks. A pineapple-print shirt with a bright red high-shine blazer, and black jeans. A white tank, black elastic-waist trousers, white fingerless gloves, a mullet, and handlebar mustache. 

14. Simple Minds, “Don’t you (forget about me)” 1985

The style: an excessively oversized coat, fingerless gloves, baggy denim jacket, chunky lace-up boots, red scarf, and bad attitude. A red plaid shirt over a white long-sleeved tee, and floppy bad-boy hair. A zip-up hoodie, leather sports jacket, sleeveless top, blue jeans, and white lace-ups. A pink tee rolled at the sleeves, a high-waisted skirt, and a leather jacket. Plenty of teen angst. 


1989: Nirvana Plaid and The Loveshack Video

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

1985: Madonna’s Floral Pants and Prince

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

25 of the Best 80s Movie Fashion you just can’t forget

15. Whitney Houston, “How will I know” 1986

The style: a metallic silver bodycon dress with matching over-the-elbow floating sleeves, a low back, and a scoop neckline. A matching metallic silver bow tied jauntily in curly hair, with pink lipstick and purple eyeshadow. Dancers wearing black turtleneck sweaters, sheer tights, heels, and layered pearls. 

16. Bananarama, “Venus” 1986

The style: a cropped black sweater with high-waisted blue ripped jeans, a black belt, and side-swished blonde bob. A black spandex top, black leather jacket, black belt, and black pants. An LBD (little black dress) with overall straps, silver cross earrings, “lawnmower” hair, and red lips. Black velvet bows in choppy blonde hair, black rubber bracelets, and bare midriffs. 

17. Bon Jovi, “Livin’ on a prayer” 1987

The style: slouchy cowboy boots, dark sunglasses, fluffy mullets, tight spandex pants, and blousy white shirts with sparkling embellishments. Black leather jackets with extreme shoulder pads and long fringes. 

18. Billy Idol, “Mony Mony” 1987

The style:  a black leather-paneled jacket with silver studs, black leather pants, fingerless gloves, and an ultra low-cut tight black tank. Layered silver cross necklaces and platinum blonde hair. A white leather suit with a bare torso and gigantic, feathered, dark hair. A white mesh tank, cut-off denim jacket, heeled boots, and floppy 50s-inspired mohawk. 

19. Rick Astley, “Never Gonna Give you up” 1988

The style: black brogues, stone-hue pleated slacks, black belt, horizontal stripe sweater, and black blazer. A black turtleneck sweater, beige trench coat, black trousers, and black lace-ups. Back-up dancers in Bardot-style tight black mini dresses, or black cropped trousers and black tanks with heels.

20. Poison, “Every rose has its thorn” 1988

The style: black acid wash jeans, a black cowboy hat, black tank, and extremely fluffy long blonde hair. A black leather baseball hat worn to the side, with a black tank top emblazoned with a green dragon image. Silver cross pendants, sunglasses, and plenty of sweaty rocker skin. 

21. Paula Abdul, “Straight up” 1989

The style:  strappy tap shoes, black ripped jeans rolled at the ankle, a black leather jacket, sunglasses, and a black hat. A sparkly, bejeweled corset top, polka-dot jacket, and big hoop earrings. An oversized blazer dress with patches, sheer tights, heels, and a voluminous fringe. 

22. Roxette, “The Look” 1989

The style: a cropped black velvet jacket with ornate brocade trim, black straight-leg pants with black boots, and a chunky belt. Short, spiky hair with small, dark-lense sunglasses, and layered bandanas around the neck. A slinky red dress with low back, (and feathery hair being rather viciously yanked by a woman in white).  

23. Madonna, “Like a prayer” 1989

The style: a black midi slip dress with corset-style top, visible bra straps, and structured cups. Silver cross jewelry, curly dark hair, matte pale skin, red lips, and bold brows. The video was criticized at the time but is highly relevant today. 

24.The Bangles, “Eternal flame” 1989

The style: a metallic sheer blouse, tangerine waistcoat, metallic mini skirt, and layered necklaces. Inky black outfits emerging from hazy shadows and crossfade transitions. A blunt blonde fringe and straight layered locks, feathery red hair with raised roots, and a mop of bouncy brown curls. (Check out the neon yellow plastic hoops and pink neon sweater in the background at the start!)

25. a-ha ‘Take On Me’ 1984

The style: Black leather jacket, black jeans, white t-shirt and black boots. The video is a sketch coming to life. So forward for its time. An absolute classic.

26. Toto, ‘Africa’ 1982 

The style: T-shirt, Shirt, Long Hair

27. Bruce Springsteen, ‘Dancing In the Dark’ 1984

The style: White polo shirt, Jeans, Belt and boots

28. Dirty Dancing ‘Time of my Life’ 1987

The style: Black shirt, black slim fit trouser and black shoes. Pink ruffle short dress

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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